This is a guest post written by, Leigh Ellwood. Please take the time to read it. I've written on this topic many times. And I'm thrilled to publish this post here on my blog because I think it hits so many notes across the board. Especially the part about reviews and, nowadays, Interweb talk.
Hello. My name is Leigh Ellwood and I write erotic romance, erotic, and GLBT erotica. I'm pleased for the opportunity to blog here today with regards to self-publishing and writing in particular, and I hope you'll check me out on the Web at Erotic Romance by Leigh Ellwood. One of my latest releases, M-Squared, is an anthology of gay erotic fiction published through my private imprint, DLP Books. It is available through Kindle, All Romance, Nook, and Smashwords.
Today, I'd like to share some quotes with you. Don't worry, I'll explain the relevance soon.
"A grand and glorious film that may well be the smash hit of 1977, and certainly is the best movie of the year so far. " - TIME Magazine on Star Wars
"...there's no breather in the picture, no lyricism..." - Pauline Kael on Star Wars
"It is flawlessly crafted, intelligently constructed, strongly acted, and spellbinding...Movies like this are not merely difficult to make at all, but almost impossible to make well. The technical difficulties are so daunting that it's a wonder when the filmmakers are also able to bring the drama and history into proportion. I found myself convinced by both the story and the sad saga." - Roger Ebert onTitanic
"...the most dreadful piece of work I've ever seen in my entire life." - Robert Altman on Titanic
Words are powerful. They can draw so much emotion is so little time. When arranged in certain patterns, they evoke laughter or tears, inspire thought, and change minds. They can also cut deeper than the sharpest blade and leave behind magnificent scars.
If there is anything a writer should know about words, it's how to master them, and not allow them to consume you. This holds true especially for reviews and snark. You look at the above quotes on Titanic, and if I were to ask you what you'd see, perhaps you'd say two differing opinions by two experts. The renowned film critic loved the film, the respected director hated it. We know in which direction popular opinion swayed (It took two months of waiting before I could get a seat during the film's first run).
We see two experts telling us what they think, but at the end of the day they are just two men - two out of billions on the planet. You, as a writer, may feel the entire planet gangs up on you in the wake of a bad review or snarky comment, but it's no reason to let those words bother you to the point that you're unable to function.
So Robert Altman hated Titanic. Big deal. The film had the last laugh on him. You might think, well, certainly lots of people hated that movie - but look at the bigger picture (no pun intended). James Cameron still works, Kate Winslet still makes movies, life moves on.
You may also think, the book isn't Titanic. Perhaps not in the greater scheme of things, but isn't it Titanic to you? You put your heart and soul into your work, you should be proud to have accomplished something not many people get to do. Unlike the actual ship, you'll survive the journey if you take control and steel yourself against words designed to harm.
What does all of this have to do with self-publishing? Well, despite the news we're hearing about certain authors selling thousands of books and eventually signing traditional book deals, there is still a stigma attached to being an "indie." Look up the title of any successful self-pub author and you may see glowing reviews, but there also exist a number of complaints with regards to spelling, grammar, and style. If you plan to see your project to fruition, be prepared for the fact that not everybody is going to like your book, and that some people will not hesitate to point out the flaws. Even if you're selling the book at 99 cents, a popular price point right now, readers won't be pleased to spend that much on a faulty book.
I can speak from experience here. I have been published through small digital houses, and I have self-published...many years ago before Kindle was a glint in Jeff Bezos's eye. I've received the wide spectrum of commentary for my books, and I've learned from every experience. I've learned the importance of good cover art, critical beta readers to help you make sense of your story, and strong editing. Even if a book is blessed with all three, inevitably one reader will decide the book is just not his cup of tea. That's okay. What is important is that you continue to write for the love of writing, and eventually for your following.
If you do not write but love to read, give an "indie" a chance. You never know, you may find a new favorite.