This post is for the authors out there, but readers are totally welcome to join the party.
1: The taxes are beyond complicated, you will pay a lot more in taxes than your traditionally employed partner, and if you aren’t good at reading IRS shenanigans, hire a tax accountant. Seriously. The taxes are THAT complicated.
2: It takes money to make money. (Seriously. You get what you pay for, and readers don’t care if you’re on a tight budget. They’re after their next new favorite read. Your feelings are not a factor in their next new favorite read.)
3: Don’t read the reviews. Any unasked for advice is unwanted criticism, and the reviews are for other readers. Every now and then, hire someone (yes, hire) to go through your reviews and report back if you get a common trend of “this book wasn’t edited.” That’s really the only unwanted / unasked for criticism you should be looking out for. And remember, just because a reader didn’t like how you set up your plot doesn’t mean it’s unedited. If the reader is complaining they didn’t like your plot structure, that’s a matter of taste.
Typos are not a matter of taste.
3a: MAYBE 1% of happy readers will leave a review. The percentage of people who will leave negative reviews is significantly higher. Readers don’t pick up books because they want to make YOU feel good… they pick up books because they want you to make THEM feel good. When you don’t accomplish that, they get mad.
Mad people say nasty things.
Brace yourself, for the negative commentary will come. It’s only a matter of when.
3b: Happy people really aren’t inclined to leave reviews. It’s okay to ask now and then for people to help you out and leave a review if they liked the story, so other readers know the book was a fun or interesting read.
3c: Reviews don’t actually sell books. Some of my best sellers have sold without a single review up during release week. (This is because the cover, description, and writing sell books.)
3d: The publishing industry has sold literally billions of books in brick and mortar stores without the help of reviews. If you can’t sell books without reviews, you have a problem with your cover, description, or your writing. (Get over it and fix it if you want to succeed at this industry.)
4: Go back and fix the typos. They ruin the reading experience for readers. (This hurts my soul to type it… but go back and fix the fucking typos.) But only the ACTUAL typos.
5: Do not change how you write strictly because some cry-baby reader didn’t like your regionalisms. HOWEVER, there is a difference between a legitimate regionalism versus just being wrong.
Example: This needs to be washed. This needs washed. Both are regionalism. Grammar nazis prefer the first one. The first way is typically found in affluent communities. The second way is typically found in country or poorer communities.
Basically, getting crabby over to be being dropped is essentially elitist. Both ways are correct, and I use them in my stories based on if the character would personally drop the to be or not.
Be on the right side of that line. If you can’t go “This is how they speak in THIS EXACT region/income bracket/etc”, and someone from that exact region can’t back you…. you’re probably just wrong.
6: Covers sell books. If you slapped together a DIY cover, and it looks like a DIY cover, you’re going to get DIY cover sales… meaning the book probably isn’t going to sell. If you can’t slap your book down on the shelf at your local brick and mortar and trick people into thinking it’s from a big publisher… it probably isn’t good enough.
7: With the influx of KU writers who don’t bother to edit, readers check samples more and more frequently. If you want to sell books, it doesn’t matter how brilliantly you write… if your writing has a lot of basic errors (your instead of you’re, typos every page, etc), you’re just not going to see any real success.
8: Readers are brutal. They decide if they want to read a book within a few seconds. If your marketing package isn’t spot on, you have lost your chance with that reader. Don’t! Skimp! On! Your! Cover! Description! and Writing! These are what sells books. Period. Stop. End of story.
9: Advertising guarantees nothing. Your cover, description, and writing sell the books. Advertising just gives your cover, description, and writing a chance to sell the book for you.
10: Save up for the fucking bookbubs. Seriously. If you can’t land a bookbub, fix your cover, description, and writing. Bookbub CHECKS these things, because they want to sell books.
They don’t care about your feelings. They care about finding books they want to read.
11: Don’t feel like you’re a failure for having 4* reviews. Seriously. They liked the book. It just wasn’t their FAVORITE book. Authors are trained to believe the only review that matters is the 5* review. 4* reviews are fine. Personally, if my book has only 4 and 5* reviews, it’s done beyond fantastically well.
3* reviews mean they liked it just fine but it wasn’t their favorite.
It’s really hard to accept that 4* reviews are good and 3* are fine. If they hurt your feelings… Don’t look at the reviews!
12: Seriously, the REVIEWS ARE NOT FOR YOU. They are for the other readers. You are under zero obligation to look t the reviews.
13: Go ahead and block the critics if they get in your face on social media or bother you. They aren’t your audience. And if they invite themselves to your messages and try to tell you how to do their job, simply state you are not accepting unrequested criticism in your messages. Point them at a form if you have one.
If they don’t take the hint, block them.
You are not there to indulge their criticism. You’re there to write books for the readers who like your stories.
(And seriously, readers… if you don’t like what an author did so much you want to approach them about it… just leave it as a draft, walk away, and go find a reader you WILL like. Authors owe you the book they wrote for the money you spent for said book. That is it, that is all. This is a hard pill for EVERYBODY to swallow.)
Authors are people.
14: For every 50 readers who love you to pieces, that 1 reader who doesn’t is going to break your heart, smoosh it to pieces, let it bleed everywhere, and spoil the whole damned thing. Whenever able… just walk away, use your block tools when appropriate, and focus on the 50 people who love you to pieces.
The negative so-and-so does not. They are not your audience.
15: This bears repeating: the only time a negative review should be considered is if there are a bunch of them that say the book had not been edited. Edit the book. Readers! Don’t! Like! Typos!
16: You are never going to be perfect. I aim to have fewer than 1 error every 10,000 words when I publish a novel. I sometimes succeed, I sometimes fail. But this is the goal.
That is a fairly common industry standard for errors.
17: Your editor isn’t going to be perfect. You’re not going to be perfect. Find a close group of readers who are willing and able to help you spot typos. They’re invaluable. Try to be as perfect as you possibly can… and then get help, because you’re not going to be perfect. (Get over it, fix the shit, and do your best.)
18: Your book will never be perfect. That’s okay. Readers want to read even perfection. (And there’s literally no such thing as a perfect book. SOMEONE is not going to like your book.)
19: It’s okay to include racism, sexism, etc in your books. These are human things. Stop whitewashing your novels trying to be politically correct. Include these things with a purpose.
They are a part of life.
Just understand how to showcase these things for a purpose. If you can’t turn your human flaws into something worthwhile on the page… you’re probably not aware of the problem.
(But seriously… stop removing anything negative about society.)
20: You will be tired all! the! damned! time.
Is 20 a few? I guess so? Anyway, here’s some food for thought for your Monday morning. Now I must go back into the writing trenches, else this book will never get finished.
All of us readers should read this!!
That was some excellent commentary and a great list.
I can’t remember when I first discovered you. It was one of your magical rom coms (with a body count.) after the first one I read them all. (and all the new ones as they were finished. I also read under your pseudonyms that were listed in amazon. Bernadette Franklin and Susan Copperfield. I love all your books and read them as they are published. I tell people the trick to reading is to be in the universe created by the writer. Know that your very hard work is appreciated and read more than once.
Typos happen. Your brain know what you wrote and sees it even if it’s not there. Several people can miss the same one. Sure they are annoying, but not something I’d report, there usually aren’t that many and I don’t keep a notepad beside me while reading to write down the page number and word where the typo appears. And I’m surely not going back to find the two typos after I finish the book! 🤣🤣
The Sneaky Kitty Critic
I DNF’d a book recently where there were typos every 3-5 sentences. Just little things everywhere.
Author was put into my little book of don’t waste time on again. It was, in a way, amazing they could have taken NO care with their book…
Thank you, I enjoyed your post.
I’m number 51 of the people who love your books. And I brought my husband into the fold, so that’s 52. I’d hear him laugh while reading your Magical Romantic Comedies (with a body count). I’d ask him which book he was reading. He’d read the passage. And I’d get to relive that part all over again. Thank you for writing. I’ll keep reading.
Thanks for the good writing advice, and keep up the great books.
Thank you for sharing your gift for writing with us and for these great insights. As a reader, I enjoyed getting a glimpse of what its like in your writing world.