Grit your teeth

Publishing a book is an emotional experience. After months, sometimes years of work, your creation is suddenly pushed out into the world… where anyone and everyone can now read it.

All authors want readers. I love writing. The process is (mainly) pleasure. Give me a keyboard or a pad and pen and I can have hours of fun coming up with ideas, playing with words and making up stories.

Ultimately though, I want to create stories that others can enjoy. That’s the real point of the process: to spin a tale, put across ideas, entertain… and provoke a reaction.

The trouble is, reading is such a subjective experience and what one person loves, another may think is dreadful. Which is why putting my work out via Amazon has meant pain as well as pleasure.

Thin Ice is the third novel I’ve published via Kindle. Thankfully, my first review was four stars and pretty positive (once I’d sorted out an initial formatting problem). Reviewer Willie Wit described the story as “clever and entertaining”.

It was a good start and just got better – three five star reviews followed – with a reader called Elaine G described Thin Ice as “a very cleverly crafted crime thriller with a difference, absolutely gripping from start to finish”.

‘Oh joy’, I thought, ‘everyone loves my work’. Then I put the book on a five day free promotion and was even happier when I suddenly had thousands of copies being downloaded.

Then came my first one star review and a two star review – from one reviewer who thought my characters so cliched and badly drawn that they gave up, and another who gave up because they were confused by the number of characters. (I really don’t understand that as by my reckoning there are eight ‘main’ characters and maybe a dozen more minor characters.)

For a moment, depression kicked in… ‘I’m terrible, I might as well give up now!’

Luckily, I was able to remember the good reviews on Amazon.co.uk – and the fact that Thin Ice also got a very positive write-up the US review website LL Book Review, which described it as “an entertaining, complex story”.

I guess that’s the downside of pushing my baby out into the wide world. Not everyone out there is going to like it. It’s just a case of gritting my teeth and hoping that the positive reviews continue to outweigh the negative.

So… if you’ve read Thin Ice and enjoyed it… please help keep the scales tipping the right way by adding your thoughts. Thank you.

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3 responses to “Grit your teeth”

  1. Lloyd Lofthouse says :

    Huw,

    You are not alone when it comes to one-star reviews, and many one and two-star reviews are written by what we call Trolls. A Troll’s primary goal (they have serious emotional issues) is to trash an author’s work and cause anarchy, chaos and turmoil. To make it simple, they want to cause another person emotional pain.

    It is usually easy to tell the difference between a one-star review from a Troll and one from a reader that didn’t connect with an author’s style and/or plot.

    Troll’s usually stay away from the specific and criticize in a general sense. For examples, you might want to read a few of the one-star reviews for Harper Lee’s To “Kill a Mockingbird” that has almost 2,300 reviews on Amazon in the US. There are 1,703 five-star reviews and 87 one-star reviews. Many of the one-star reviews have nothing to do with the novel but were complaints about the product/purchase from Amazon. However, a few of the one-star reviews reveal the Troll at work. As a rule Troll’s prefer to stay anonymous and do not have the courage to reveal who they really are.

    Here are a few examples:

    “I waited 52 years to read this book. I should have waited 52 more. A real snooze fest. I don’t see what all the fuss is about.” – Nick T. Francone

    “In my opinion, this book suffered from various major problems. First of all, the plot line was weak, The characters did nothing but wonder around the town tring to coax Boo Radly out of his house. Second of all, the characters interaction seemed forced, they behaived like they could not stand each other. The Third and final deterant is the ending, for almost 200+ pages(out of 281)the almost unbearable wondering ends with the description of a boring trial and an obscure presentation of the final climax and resolution. Half way through the book I was just wishing a bunch of mockingbirds would fly in and end everyones misery (mine included).” – A customer

    Source: http://www.amazon.com/To-Kill-Mockingbird-Anniversary-Edition/product-reviews/0061743526/ref=cm_cr_pr_btm_link_2?ie=UTF8&filterBy=addOneStar&pageNumber=2&showViewpoints=0

    “Now I’m not one of those negative people that go around bashing everything just for the pleasure of making everyone else miserable, so please do not make that assumption. I was made to read this book for and English class and I absolutely hated it! I’m not rascist at all, so don’t make that assumption either. The whole time I was reading this I kept thinking how much this whole thing sounds like it was written by a 5th grader! Not just when the kids were speaking either. The writing style overall just seemed very juvenile to me. This “great American classic” just seemed to be replaying the old boring rascism vs. humanity theme that we’ve all seen time and time and time again. But this time it just has an even dumber ending! Everyone says how “deep” this novel is and how much thought it takes to really know and love the story. When actually, there are only a few tiny little moments when you have to know on your own what’s really going on and decide for yourself. The plot goes absolutely nowhere! Yes a few things change, but by the end of the story, basiclly the same thing is happening that was happening when the story first begins! This novel was BORING! Not because I don’t understand it, but because it has a lack of any real depth to it at all. It was about as inspirational and moving as ‘The Cat in the Hat’.” – A customer

    Source: http://www.amazon.com/To-Kill-Mockingbird-Anniversary-Edition/product-reviews/0061743526/ref=cm_cr_pr_btm_link_3?ie=UTF8&filterBy=addOneStar&pageNumber=3&showViewpoints=0

    You may also find Troll review examples on Amazon of J. K. Rowling’s Harry Potter. The first novel in the series has 4,881 five-star reviews and 88 one-star reviews.

    Whenever a one-star review from a possible Troll shows up for my work, I spend a few minutes reading the one-star reviews of my favorite authors to put it into perspective.

    Source: http://www.amazon.com/Harry-Potter-Sorcerers-Stone-Book/product-reviews/059035342X/ref=dp_top_cm_cr_acr_txt?ie=UTF8&showViewpoints=1

    There are people out there that find it challenging to be positive. They are called hard-core pessimists or Trolls for short.

  2. Huw Thomas says :

    Thanks Lloyd – it’s sad that there are people out there with nothing better to do in their lives. Must be quite a sad existence.
    I guess there’s nothing much you can do about the Trolls except ignore them and hope other readers see beyond their comments.

    I also think that as a writer you need to develop a thick skin and be pretty stubborn anyway otherwise we’d probably all give up after the first few rejections. Back in the days (long before e-publishing) when I was plugging away trying to get mainstream publishers to at the very least read my work, I used to remind myself of the story of Richard Adams – he got turned down about 50 times before he got a publisher to take on Watership Down.

  3. Jennings says :

    I only have 1 book out, and it’s only been out a month, so no trolls yet, but this happens with anything online. My husband writes articles for a political website, and he gets his share of these. I suspect some of these are from people who don’t read anything other than your blurb or “see more inside” stuff from Amazon. (On his articles, people comment based on the title ALL THE TIME.) But also, no one’s going to like everything. Think of the visual arts – what you may think is garbage someone else may think is the best thing ever, and vice versa. All you need to find is the ones who love your work, and hold onto them! A small loyal audience is better than a large fickle one!

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