Insecure Writers’ Support Group: review-phobia

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“Let’s rock the neurotic writing world!” Alex J Cavanaugh

It’s time for this month’s Insecure Writers’ Support Group post! I’m going to preface this post by re-stating one of the key reasons the blog-father, Alex J Cavanaugh, founded this support group:  “Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak.”

So no teasing! Cos I’m about to tell you one of my real, genuine fears.

Now that I’ve decided to indie publish my first novel The Big Smoke, I’m faced with the fact that people everywhere around the world will be able to purchase my writing and then tell everybody else what they think about it. That’s AWESOME but it’s also FREAKING TERRIFYING.

I fear that, soon after The Big Smoke is released, my Amazon page will be swamped with bad reviews by people who absolutely hated my book.

Thumbs down

Bad, bad, bad.

Now, I know that bad reviews are par for the course. I know that every book is bound to get a few negative reviews in its time. But what if they come first? What if the very first reviews that appear on my Amazon page all say my work is rubbish? Then no one else will give it a chance – including the people who just might love it.

Don’t get me wrong. I have confidence in my writing. I do. If I didn’t, I wouldn’t have decided to put it out there. But that confidence doesn’t negate the fear. And I think indie publishing perhaps makes that fear a little stronger. If I had the tick of approval from a publisher, I don’t think I’d be as concerned about reviews. But for indies, reviews really are the make or break. Hence, the fear.

I know a lot of you reading this have published your own work – either traditionally or independently. Did you fear bad reviews too? Have you had any? I don’t mean luke warm, I mean reviews where the reviewer seems to believe your fingers should be chopped off so you can never write another word. Any advice on how to quell those nerves?

P.S. Don’t forget to support other insecure writers!

21 Comments

Filed under Creativity, Fear, Insecure Writers Support Group, Self publishing, Writers, Writing

21 Responses to Insecure Writers’ Support Group: review-phobia

  1. No doubt, it’s a scary part of putting your work out there. But I’m thinking you can cheat a little 🙂 Get some of your beta readers who love your story to put reviews up right away on Amazon, GoodReads etc – wherever your book is marketed or shows up. Then at least you’ll have good ones first 🙂 Also, on Amazon at least, there’s a spot for “was this review helpful.” If you click yes, it helps that review rise to the top. I have gotten the kind of review that makes me want to hide under a rock for Freight Train Trip on GoodReads and for No Sword Fighting In The House on Library Thing. Ouch. But Beth Revis posted a really funny post about reviews recently – go read it – it will make you feel better 🙂 It’s here: http://bethrevis.blogspot.com/ and scroll down to May 31 How To Respond To Negative Reviews – sorry I can’t figure out how to get the exact link!

    • I’ll definitely check Beth’s post out. And you’re right, I should definitely ask some of the people who’ve already read the book and told me that they loved it whether they’d be willing to put that in writing… in full public view! 🙂

  2. Yeah, I was going to suggest getting beta readers to post early (glowing) reviews. At least you know something great will be there in writing 🙂 I think this is a very natural fear to have, and no doubt every writer, indie or otherwise, has it! Except maybe the ones who just don’t know what it’s like to actually edit something they’ve written, and slave hard over rough drafts to make them into something smooth and shining.

    Good luck Cally 🙂

    p.s. I haven’t published anything, indie or otherwise, so I can’t give any knowledgeable advice 😀

  3. Rob Kennedy

    Hi Cally, As a writer you will he able to counter any review that says your writing is rubbish. As you will know this is not a review but rubbish itself. If you need a beta reader, I will be one. I have written four books and completed many writing any editing courses.

    Cheers Rob

  4. (((((hugs))))) I can imagine I would feel exactly the same in your shoes honey. Surely any bad review of any writers work dents their confidence 🙁

    You are definitely not alone hon, and I guess that’s why they say that, as a writer we have to have thick skin. I’ve got very thin skin so gawd only knows how I’ll deal with those issues when my time comes *gulp*

    Good luck honey xx

  5. Ah, review phobia… My old friend… Hehe 😉

    By the time I published my first story, I’d had quite a few people read it, and they’d all had lots of positive things to say about it. So while I knew that bad reviews would come (because you can’t please everyone), I was confident that I had a good story and there would be people who enjoyed it. (But I still felt some definite terror when I clicked the “Send” button to email ARCs to all the reviewers who took part in my blog tour!)

    I haven’t had any of the believe your fingers should be chopped off so you can never write another word. type of reviews (yet?!), so I’m not sure how I’d deal with those!

    PS – Knowing you, you’ll make sure your work is as POLISHED as humanly possible before you put it out there. You’ll have nothing to worry about 🙂

    • I can just imagine the queasiness with emailing ARCs. Exciting, but terrifying! I’ve felt that way with emailing beta readers. Glad to hear no-one wants to chop your fingers off – hope it stays that way! 🙂

  6. I think everyone in your postition would feel the same way but there have been some great tips here!

  7. In my opinion, you need to supply your book to people you know you can probably count upon for a good review ahead of your release date. You can make ARC’s probably on LULU or some other place where they have a plain cover (if you don’t have cover art) and then mail them. Get some reviews in place from supporters so that they can bomb Amazon on your behalf once the book goes live. This provides a “cushion” against the negative trolls a book may collect. And believe me, Amazon has got its trolls (I’ve been hit with a few) but I had the cushion in place because of the way the publisher does business. So, four months before you publish your book, send out Advanced Reader Copies and use Goodreads as a place to have people review your book. A librarian can get your book set up long before you even have an ISBN. I will be happy to take a look at an advanced copy of your book after I get through about four or five novels that I have in the way. If I can’t say anything great about a book, I won’t say anything at all. I just don’t believe in negative reviews.

  8. Bad reviews are definitely scary. When I had a couple come in on the same day (after a free-run, you tend to see more bad reviews because just anyone downloads your book), it was rather paralyzing. I didn’t want to write or do anything, but you must remember that we write for the people who like our books, not for the ones who don’t.

    Cherie Reich – Author

  9. Take each review with a grain of salt – both the good and the not so good ones. Tell your loved ones and your I kinda know you ones to write those first reviews. Feed them brownies. Be a warrior not a worrier. Good pluck to you!

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