No one likes criticism and sharing something you've poured blood sweat and tears into for weeks, months, or even years, is never easy. But there's a Brightside to the thing that's got you down. And I'm here to show it to you.
As part of the author community you’ve heard people gripe about “bad reviews”. You’ve even taken a day to yourself because of one or two. But here’s the silver lining. That one bad review can help prevent more bad reviews. As a reader, I always look at the bad reviews. Even with Amazon’s ridiculous review policy, I still feel like most 5 star reviews are just people blowing smoke up my ass. (Where the hell did that saying come from?) Moving on. I often get more from the “bad” reviews. Sometimes, they touch on things that would upset me in a story while other times they list things that I actually like. They found it obscure or annoying but it might be my favorite trope. So don’t worry about it! Every review serves a purpose.
Note: If you get a lot of the same feedback in critical reviews one of two things is happening. 1. You’re targeting the wrong readers or 2. You have a reader expectation issue that needs attention.
Note 2: If you only have positive reviews, you aren’t marketing your book enough. Yeah it’s a fine line. Join the 1 star crew and be proud! You’re doing this publishing thing right.
This one is a tough nut for authors to crack. You struggle for so long to build your list up so you can do the things—Newsletter swaps, selling your book, you know, the things—-that you get stuck in this mindset that unsubs are bad. They aren’t. You’re building your list for one reason. To sell books. If they aren’t opening emails and engaging with your content, they are an unnecessary expense. You want to resend an email that had low open and click rates? Resend it. You want to email new subs every month until they buy your book or unsubscribe? Do it. If you think of your list this way, you will never have to “purge” your email list again. They’ll do it for you. This is how you keep your list healthy.
Note: The very first time I resent an email, I got an angry response from one person. That person is dumb. If they don't want to get email from me, they can unsubscribe. I unsubscribed him for him because he clearly couldn’t figure it out BUT don't let those people get you down. You do you, the true fans will hang around and enjoy it and the rest do not matter.
How many Vampire booms do you think there have been since Anne Rice wrote Interview with a Vampire? I know of at least three in my lifetime. And every single time, Anne Rice makes bank on those books. Writing to market can make a difference in your career today, but don’t not write your alpha male shifter romance just because “they” say paranormal romance is over saturated (Or whatever your love project/genre may be). Because it will be popular again. The next Anne Rice or Stephanie Meyer is out there, right now, writing a love story that will melt hearts and cause an uprising in those of us you can never get enough Vampire or Werewolf lovin’. And you can either ride that wave with an awesome back list or you can be kicking yourself as you struggle to write the book you wanted to in the first place as other sell sell sell and build a fan base.
I’m not saying there’s no point in writing to market. I’ve seen enough authors make career/life changing things happen by writing to market to know that it’s worth it. I’m just saying don’t ignore the book that’s in your heart either.
Slow Publishing Schedule
We all know the 20booksto50k theory but that only works if the books are quality. Being consistent overtime wins over rushed unpolished work every time. So if you write slower and can only put out two books a year, that’s okay. You’ll get there too. Focus on building your audience and converting them into super fans. Your next launch will be even better than the last.
On the other side, if you’re putting out book after book and sales are decreasing, something isn’t right. You need to take a hard look at your books, your stories, and your platform. Are you writing the same book over and over? Do you need line editing or a better proofreader? Is your platform set up properly? If you can write fast, by all means do it. BUT don’t let quality fall to the wayside as you fight to hit that 20 books mark or you’ll have 20 books and still not be making 50k.
This goes hand in hand with saturated markets. People seem to see others in their genre as the enemy. Back in the day maybe you were competing for shelf space, and maybe now you are competing for ranking BUT, authors who work together will rise faster in the ranks than those who fight everyone else. Between boxed sets and newsletter swaps, other authors in your genre even writing the same tropes as you, are your best friends. The fact is simple. No matter how fast you can write, readers will always consume your books faster. So, while they’re waiting for your next release, send over your shelf buddy and whet their appetite for more.
Marissa is the founder of Raven’s Quill Publishing and its imprint, Pretty Gritty Love Stories™️. Marissa was trained in Tim Grahl’s connection system for book marketing and launching a bestselling book in 2018, trained as a Story Grid Editor in 2019, and has worked with many authors as both an editor/story coach and book marketing coach since.