So last week I got my first ever review on Getting Lucky (here). It completely caught me by surprise, I went to the Kobo store to copy the link for a friend and I noticed that a review had appeared. I wish I could say I was a true artiste and the opinions of others were irrelevant to my opinion of my writing, but if I did I would be lying. I wasn’t nonchalant about it at all. I read the whole review right then and there before fist pumping and jumping around like a cheerleader after one too many coffees. I surprised even myself with my excitement that someone I have never met said nice things about my book.
Here’s the thing. As a writer, there’s something deeply personal about my writing and for the longest time I didn’t let anyone else read it. Whatever I wrote was never ‘ready’, it was always just one more draft away from being good enough to show to someone else. This continued for years. When I found myself unemployed a few years ago I started writing more regularly, and naturally my wife was curious to see the output of all those hours spent in front of a computer. I tried the ‘it’s not ready’ ploy for a while but eventually she convinced me to let her read a few pages, so I did, and then watched nervously as she thumbed through a few pages. It wasn’t nearly as traumatic as I expected, she laughed at all the jokes and helped me tweak some of the sentences to flow better. Suddenly sharing my writing wasn’t quite so scary any more.
I put drafts of some of my stories online, but they never really made it outside my circle of friends. I got good feedback, people told me they liked them, but they were my friends and so quite frankly they had to say that. Once at a party a friend of a friend mentioned she had read one of my stories and liked it, but I just assumed she was being polite. In essence, any compliments I had ever received about my writing were from people I knew.
Have you ever had a friend who couldn’t sing? What did you say to them after every butchered karaoke classic? If you are anything like me you said, “Wow, great job! You really nailed it!” Everyone says that, because honestly who is going to say, “Wow, you just totally ruined that song for me forever. You made me want to nail my ears shut!” Nope, we just grin and bear it, they keep singing and you keep suffering. I secretly worried that was me with my writing. When I made Getting Lucky available I asked my closest friends not to post reviews, because quite frankly that is just awkward for everyone, not to mention cheap and cheesy. I wanted my book to stand on its own merits, with no obligations of friendship adding an extra star or two along the way.
I know I shouldn’t need validation that my writing is enjoyable, and I know it is just the subjective opinion of one person, but it still feels really good to know that someone I have never met read my story and enjoyed it. It’s certainly made me appreciate the power of a review, especially for people just starting out. The next time I enjoy a book by an indie author I am going to be certain to go online and tell them exactly that!