My book, A Sinister Six, hit virtual bookshelves on Wednesday of this week. Although it is my second published book, it’s the first full book, not short story, not novella, but a collection of darkly disturbing stories, and as such it means more to me. Here’s what I learned, with ***LEARNING POINTS*** that you can find at the end.
I follow a lot of blogs and one of the things that I’ve learned, is the importance of getting reviews for your work – the social proof that tells others that this book is good, or indeed, bad. With that in mind, I began contacting review sites ***LEARNING POINT ONE*** over the last couple of months or so, the idea being to get one or two reviews in the bag.
If I said that was frightening, it would be an understatement. By sending MY book to these bloggers who spend a lot of their time just reviewing books, I was leaving myself up for ridicule and massive disappointment; the last few months of my life have been all about this book: telling people that I have a book coming out, blogging about my book, showing people the cover of my book, telling them the synopses of the stories in the collection.
So I did all that (am still doing it). I did as much as I could to ensure that this was my best effort. Then I submitted it to a number of review sites. Just 1 week before the launch, I had an attack of nerves. My book would be bad. Terrible. The people I had told about my book would laugh. The reviewers would review my book and tell me it was 2 stars at best. My family would disown me. My children would tell their friends about me, and they would walk around me, saying ‘unclean! Unclean!’ My writing life would be over before it started.
I called a friend who had read the stories ***LEARNING POINT TWO*** and he told me to stop being stupid. ‘The stories are good,’ he told me. I believed him, as he is not only a voracious reader, but he will also tell me that something is bad when it’s bad and good when it’s good. ***LEARNING POINT THREE***
The only way through this was to feel the fear and do it anyway. So I published the book and closed my eyes when I saw the first review notification in my inbox late on Wednesday. Through the slits between my fingers, I read the first line:
“5 Stars! Six incredible stories!”
It’s hard to put into words how that felt, but let me just say that usually, climbing the stairs is difficult for me, as the wheelchair doesn’t cope too well with stairs. On Wednesday night, I think I actually floated up the stairs. Really, actually, floated. ***LEARNING POINT FOUR***
It was a while before I realised that there was more text in the review. Rather than tell you what it said, I would like to send you to the blog of the reviewer, author Amy Shannon, to let her fill you in.
Of course, all of this means nothing. That may be it, as far as reviews go. We’ll only know over time. But I do know one thing: this has been the most amazing time of my writing life (so far), and will hopefully be only the beginning.
***LEARNING POINT ONE***
If you are interested in getting reviews, you can do far worse than heading over to The Indie View. They hold a list of hundreds of reviewers that you can submit your work to for a review. The list notes which genres the reviewers will and will not review, and their submission guidelines. Many of these are VERY popular, with many of them currently not accepting reviews, due to the huge backlog they have. I suggest rolling your sleeves up and starting at the top and working down the list.
***LEARNING POINT TWO***
Consider getting yourself some beta-readers. These are the ones that will look at your work before you publish and tell you what you need to strengthen. You could, of course, miss this step and hope that your work is already awesome, but then you really do run the risk of all those bad things happening.
***LEARNING POINT THREE***
Get yourself a critical friend, or maybe a few (see above). Someone that will tell you when you’ve written something that stinks. Your mum may say she loves it. If she’s like my mum, who is my biggest supporter, I think I could write anything and she would tell me she loves it. Not very helpful. Having someone you trust to tell you when something isn’t working is invaluable.
***LEARNING POINT FOUR***
Don’t try to float down the stairs. It could end in significant injury. Floating UP is ok, NOT down.