I need to stop reading reviews of my work.
Those of you who are on my Facebook page already know I’ve said this. And I mean it!
When I first started out, I read reviews for a couple of reasons. One reason I read my reviews was because I like to highlight some of my favorite ones in the front of my books. Unless you preview the book, you might not even see those (Kindle skips directly to the first chapter, so you miss all the beginning goodies, things not everyone likes to read). But for anyone previewing the book who was on the fence, I thought good reviews might convince them to take a chance.
Another reason was so I could learn and grow as a writer. I took the reviews very seriously, good and bad, and tried to change some things. For example, several readers complained about how short my books were. Well, that wasn’t always something I could do anything about (after all, the story dictates the length, and there’s nothing I hate worse than unnecessary padding. I find it insulting), but I was willing to try. I let stories develop more slowly so readers could savor the build up. Well, I’m sure you can see where this is going. Two recent reviews complained that a plot dragged out and that my writing is too wordy.
So, the ultimate lesson is this: You can’t please everyone, so don’t even try!
I received another review recently that complained that the sex in Everything But was “very vanilla.” Well, I never claimed to be a BDSM writer. Stephen King tells us to write what we know, and I’ve never been brave enough to venture too far into those forests! I get the appeal, but let’s face it: there are authors out there who are good at writing that kind of thing, and I’m not one of them. I’m not going to torment my readers by trying to write about something I don’t have much experience in just to sell a couple more books.
But, in the midst of all my bemoaning that maybe “vanilla sex” isn’t what people want to read anymore, several of my Facebook fans assured me that they read my writing because they like it. They’re not looking for anything from me other than what I already do best. There are plenty of authors out there (starting with E L James but definitely not ending with her) who will take care of the other flavors of sex, and they will do it much better than I. I will focus on what I already do and what fans expect, AND…I will stop taking the reviews seriously.
The main reason why, other than they distract the heck out of me and make me fret needlessly: Any of you who have worked in customer service have heard about how one dissatisfied customer will go out of her way to tell everyone she knows about how lousy a company’s service or product was, but happy customers rarely do that. So…I need to tell myself that these “dissatisfied customers” are going to be vocal, but the happy ones are usually quiet. I will keep that in mind and keep writing…the only way I know how.
Hope you like vanilla!