What’s My Motivation?

Have those of you who work outside the home ever called in and said “Sorry, just not feeling it today. I’m going to stay home and play games on Facebook all day. Maybe I’ll see you tomorrow.” Of course not. That would get you fired. So those of us who work from home should be subject to the same rules, albeit enforced by ourselves, rather than a boss. Right? Except writer brains don’t work like other brains. Some days (okay, in my case, weeks) the words just aren’t there. The urge to sit down and get creative is just…missing.

And because I see all these posts on Facebook about the super-productive authors with ten kajillion projects going at once, the ones who have charts and schedules for which blog post comes out on which day, and how many thousand pages they are going to edit on which book and all the new book contracts they’re signing this week…I feel guilty. I’m not working hard enough. Heck, I’m not working at all, so let’s call a spade a spade. I’m a fraud. If I’m not writing, I cannot call myself a writer.

Guilt turned to panic. I haven’t had a new release out in over a year. My readers are going to forget my name. They’ll have moved on to the next author who actually releases on a reliable schedule. Then panic to hopelessness. What’s the point? The first book in my latest trilogy has been rejected repeatedly. Why even finish the series? Does anyone really want to read this? It may be the book/series of MY heart, but that doesn’t mean everyone else is going to fall in love with it.

Writing can be a very solitary existence. And it’s easy to forget that there are others out there who might be going through the exact same thing I was struggling with. So I reached out. And it felt so good to talk with another author who knew just how I was feeling. She told me it was okay, healthy in fact, to give myself permission to take a break. To refill the creative well. She suggested I put a time limit on it, a deadline that would force me back into my chair and getting back to the business of storytelling.

I started to get excited. I thought about all the walks I was going to take with the dog, snapping pictures along the way. I thought of all the plant nurseries I was planning to visit, because something about nature and flowers is connected to my writing. I can’t explain it…it just is. I picked up a book I’d promised to read and review. I told myself that it was okay to put someone else’s book first for a change. I queued up Netflix and looked for a new bingeworthy series.

 

But while I was busy telling myself it was okay to step back, I was already feeling the stirrings of something new. And, let me tell you, the floodgates have truly opened wide. My head is full of blog post ideas, new series’ ideas, people I want to contact, publishers I want to query. I’m considering self-publishing for the first time in my writing career. This excitement — a reason to scramble out of bed in the morning and get to work — it had been missing for a long time and I was worried it would never come back. But I am so thrilled that it did. Yeah, it’s making me a little bonkers because I haven’t laid everything out in a “first this, then that” type of pattern, but I’m enjoying figuring out what fights its way to the top. Today the blog post. Tomorrow a little research, perhaps. But I’m back, baby! I’m not a fraud after all. Just a creative person who was in a bit of a slump. It happens to all of us, and it’s not the end of the world.

Book Reviews 101

reviewmeme3I made myself a New Years’ resolution this year that has been much easier to keep than dieting. It’s fun, it’s easy and it feels good. For every book I read, I leave a review on Amazon and Goodreads. It’s that simple. There have been one or two that I chose not to review, not because the author didn’t deserve a review, but because the author didn’t deserve a poor review. Some books just aren’t for us, and that’s okay. Some books probably could have used a lot more professional help getting them ready for publication. But as a fellow author, I don’t think it’s my place to chastise them in a public forum.

quoteIn talking to readers, I have found that the biggest reason they site for not leaving a review is fear of getting it wrong. They think there is a format. They must first summarize the book. Yes, several professional reviewers do this. No, it is not necessary. After all, that is what the book blurb is for, right? The gist of the review is to tell other readers what YOU thought of the book. Why did you like it? What didn’t work for you? Don’t give the ending away. That just spoils it for everyone. And don’t trash the author. They wrote that book out of love and passion for writing. So it wasn’t your thing. It still came from their heart. If you must express your misgivings, do it in as kind a way as possible. We’re all adults here.

A lot of readers don’t realize this, but the more reviews a book has, the more chances it has for marketing opportunities. Which is really unfair, but an established way of life. So the bestsellers, which don’t need any help, get all the promo spots, while the struggling mid-listers and those of us still in obscurity beg for reviews on the street corner. Authors can list their books with Ebook Soda and the Fussy Librarian if they have at least 10 reviews for their book. Know what? Out of five books I have on the market, ONE has enough reviews to actually list it with these email subscription sites. And those were mostly begged off friends and acquaintances. Heck, I’m not even qualified enough to tell you what an author with enough reviews can do for their books. The more reviews, the more possibilities to get your books before more readers.

wordofmouthI just finished a book last night. PARIS TIME CAPSULE, by Ella Carey. It was fabulous. And I want the world to know about it. So I wrote a review. http://www.amazon.com/review/R30M8U22S0TTUZ I posted it on Goodreads and Amazon. I pinned her book cover to my Pinterest page “Books I Recommend”. I tweeted the review link. Am I doing this for myself? No. But I felt passionately enough about how awesome that book was that I wanted others to discover it. I learned about it on Facebook when another author mentioned how she couldn’t put it down. Word of mouth, people. It’s the biggest marketing tool out there, and it starts with reviews.

reviewmeme1It’s simple, really. When you finish a book (preferably if you know you can give the author at least 4 stars), click “write your own review” on Amazon. Imagine you’re talking to a friend, telling them about this great book you just read. Why did you like it? What was a really unforgettable scene? Was it a character you absolutely fell in love with? Was it the author’s writing style? Did you want to keep turning the pages? Did you want to forgo sleep, hide from your family, ignore the household chores? Say that! It doesn’t have to be long and thought out. It just has to be honest. And no one cares if there are typos in your review. You are the reader, not the author. Something made you buy that book (or borrow it) and you’d be helping countless others if you shared your experience with them. There are SO many choices out there now. We need all the help we can get, as authors – to be discovered, as readers – to find the next great book escape.

Authors: Share your thoughts on what it means to receive a review for one of your books and help others to understand the importance of even the briefest review on Amazon.

Readers: If this doesn’t convince you to write at least one “test” review for a book you’ve read, tell us why. If I can’t help you craft a review you feel comfortable posting, I am sure there are countless others out there who can.

And to those of you who have ever taken the time to leave an author a review, thank you from the bottom of my heart.readingmeme