Nasty Naysayers Beware

a-to-z-letters-nI’m my biggest critic. Neurotic thoughts often swirl with negativity when I think about myself -when I think about where I am now and where I want to be. The gap between my ideal “me” and the real “me” is wide. For me, writing is personal; my words are part of who I am. While my need for external validation is strong, I know that successful writers learn to tune out the naysayers and the haters.They set aside the rejections and move on.

Fear kept me from putting my words out there in the past; that fear of rejection and not being good enough. Yes, I write for myself, but the smile that comes with a positive comment or a great review of one my books is addictive. I indie-published two romance novels over that last year. I didn’t even try the traditional publishing route. For one I hate waiting and for another I didn’t want rejection to discourage me from my dreams. I did a lot of research before going the self-publishing route. I corresponded with and read the blogs of many romance authors who ditched their traditional contracts and re-published their back lists via self-publishing. These authors were succeeding and making more money than they had with their traditional contracts.  So in the end I decided in this new age of electronic books that I could reach more readers quicker as an indie author.Yet, still nagging the back of my mind  was the thought that I wouldn’t be a real “author” unless a traditional publisher published my books.

This notion led me to enter my first novel in Amazon’s Breakthrough Novel Award – the winner of which would get a publishing contract with one of Amazon’s publishing imprints for romances, it’s Montlake. You have no idea how elated I was when I found my “pitch” made the cut and my excerpt would be read by expert Amazon reviewers. A month later I read two glowing reviews from those experts and moved on to the quarter-finals. Out of 10,000 entries only 500 remained. I started to feel like a “real” author. I knew my chances of making the semi-finals was slim. Only 25 entries moved on to the next level and only five in the romance category. What excited me though was that a Publisher’s Weekly (PW) reviewer would read my entire novel and provide feedback.

This morning Amazon announced the semi-finalists. My book did not make the grade. Don’t get me wrong. I’m fine with that fact. I’m not complaining (much). What I wasn’t prepared for though, given the fact that my first-round comments were so positive and the majority of reviews from my readers were complimentary, was the harsh, borderline-nasty review my book received. I know the PW reviewer gave what he or she thought to be an honest critique, but it felt mean. I write contemporary romance, not suspense or erotica. Yet, the reviewer bashed the book for being too “unexciting and slow-paced” and for not having enough sex in it, saying it was more “sad than sexy.”  I guess it’s a good thing I wasn’t going for sexy.

I’m sure there’s a lesson in there somewhere. If anything, it made me realize I am a real author regardless of whether I have a traditional publishing contract or not. Being an indie author gives me the flexibility and control over what I write and when that I need. It also taught me that not everyone will like my books and that’s OK. Its find for someone to write a negative review so long as they aren’t nasty about it.

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Shar Dimick

I love writing, photography, ice cream, Diet Coke and being a mom. I'm a tech writer/instructional designer by day. In addition to blogging, I also write sweet contemporary romances. I've been a writer as long as I can remember. It's one of my passions in life. Lucky for me, it's also my job!

14 thoughts on “Nasty Naysayers Beware”

  1. Coming to your defense. I haven’t read your book but the PW review stuck in my craw. I would not waste any more time on thinking about that PW reviewer. I find reviews of writing and movies completely subjective. He says it was slow simply because there wasn’t enough sex in it for him. I know, I know, sex sales. But there is also an audience for pure romance novels without it being borderline porn. Obviously, they don’t know their is a difference between sex and romance. Maybe this PW reviewer should get their nose out of Shades of Grey long enough to recognize true romance when they read it. Congratulations on making it so far in the contest. That in itself should give you some validation that you are a good writer.
    If you haven’t done so already, check out The View Outside blog. She is doing the A-Z challenge. She is doing a theme of an author a day. Each post includes a video of the author. It is really quite good and inspiring. Although Stephen King is far removed from being a romance writer, the video she posted of him under “K”, is worth watching. He is talking with a group of high school students and he talks about all of the rejections he received early on and how he didn’t let it phase him. I think it might be of encouragement. 🙂

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    1. Parden my miss use of their for there and their for his and they for he concerning the PW reviewer. I was typing fast and was passionate about my comment. I didn’t take time to proofread. 🙂

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      1. I give up. I’m going to stop trying to correct my mistakes. I have been running on fumes the last few days. misuse not miss use. I’m quitting while I am behind.

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    2. Thanks for your positive feedback. I really appreciate you taking the time to post. You made me feel a lot more encouraged. I’m going to check out the blog you mentioned. I read Stephen King’s book On Writing and it was inspiring too. I’ve never read any of his fiction books (I can’t watch/read scary stuff) but that book was really good. Thanks!

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  2. I’m not cool with negative reviews of indie authors. I recently read a book and didn’t like it, and was actually disappointed by the quality of the writing but I did not review it on Goodreads. I contacted the author and told her directly what I thought and encouraged her to keep writing. I tried t be constructive. She was thankful. The adage “if you don’t have anything nice to say…” applies here. For authors with contracts, huge profiles and loads of sales…it’s different. I think they are fair game.

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    1. I agree. At least the PW review wasn’t public and only appears in my CreateSpace account. I don’t ever give negative reviews either. I think that is a good policy. I would too would rather get a private email with constructive criticism than a scathing review on Amazon or GoodReads. Thanks for the comments.

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  3. I agree with K.Jacqleene. They aren’t looking for a good book, something that people want to read. They are looking for something that will make them a quick buck. I tried sending mine to agents before I discovered self-publishing. The general response, if I got one, was ‘not suitable for today’s commercial market’. Well, I knew that already! But there are lots of people out there who like my sort of story, and there are lots of people out there that like yours. And what’s more, a few forests won’t get destroyed and then pulped when it doesnt sell 600k in the first few months. You are a real author!
    Happy A to Z-ing
    Jemima atJemima’s blog

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    1. I’m sure you’re right – I guess sex sells right now. I’m glad at least now with self-publishing I have the opportunity to reach the niche readers who aren’t looking for mommy porn! Thanks for sharing.

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  4. I read your book and liked it. I agree that you shouldn’t let the review get you down, and that you should keep writing. The fact that it wasn’t full of “50 Shades” scenes was actually refreshing. I fell for the 50 Shades hype, and read part of the series. Notice I said “part” of the series. A little of that goes a long way and I didn’t even finish the books. I was boring after a while. There was hardly enough story line to support the other stuff. Give me a good romance anyday!! Keep at it!

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    1. Thanks for sharing. I’m glad to know I’m on the right track with my writing. I read the 50 shades trilogy too and found myself skipping over of the majority of those scenes to get to the storyline. You can only read so many “oh my’s”

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