Life is funny. Sometimes, you feel like you are on top of the world. You look around and wonder how things got to the point where everything just seems so damn perfect. You finally silenced that inner voice that screams, "It won't last...you never catch THIS good of a break."
And then...that disaster that you KNEW was just around the corner comes at you like a wrecking ball and slams into your face. You lie there, staring up at a gray sky and think, "Why am I so surprised? I knew that this would happen." You start entertaining the idea of just giving up. Not in some horrible way that entails taking your own life or anything, just simply tossing in the towel and letting life "win." (Although, for some, thoughts of suicide are a sad reality and a demon that they wrestle with daily, but I am not qualified to speak much on that subject having no real grasp.)
Like anybody else, I have those moments. Yep, even a writer that is basically living a dream-come-true has days where I feel like I am wearing Milkbone Underwear in this dog-eat-dog world. (Thanks, Norm!) For me it comes from expectations placed on myself, and fostering my own expectations on others (rather unfairly, I admit).
Examples? These are sort of lame, but here is one. Not long ago, I gave away 25 copies of the new That Ghoul Ava audio book (around $350 worth of good audio luvin'). All I asked for in return were honest reviews. Good or bad. I am not one of those types who schleps for pats on the back or people to heap 5 star reviews on me. Do I like them? Umm...duh! Yes! But I also understand the business of entertainment enough to know that you can't please everybody. As of 11:37 AM on February 17, 2015, this is what you will find on Audible.com if you seek out Next on a very special That Ghoul Ava: There are no listener reviews for this title yet. Be the first to review it. (Go ahead and click on it...see for your self.)
And I won't get started on the people who have made it their purpose in life to try and bring me down with them into their own pit of misery, or the so-called friends who always seem vanish when the wheels get bogged down in the mud as they bound over to those seemingly always greener pastures where the "cool" kids hang out. Yes, I do have feelings, and yes, they do get a bit bruised after a while just like any other living, breathing human being.
Recently, an author friend of mine fell victim to a troll. Somebody decided to go to that author's Amazon page and vote down all the positive reviews, vote up all the negative ones and then a slurry of undeserved and highly generic 1-star reviews written by a gaggle of brand new Amazon accounts with no other reviews credited hit that author's work as an extra slap in the face. People may or may not realize that certain promotional opportunities arise based on the average rating of a book. Now, I want to STRESS, this is NOT a plea for undeserved and fluffed up ratings. However, this author did NOT deserve that treatment. To that end, a request was made for that author's fans and followers to please return to Amazon and vote on reviews they found helpful (good or bad was actually stressed as this author does not believe in fluff either). Within twenty-four hours, not only were positive reviews voted upwards of 70+ times as being helpful, but over a hundred new reviews arose, many from fans who simply, up to that point did not realize that their voice mattered. I still have people who rush to my latest release (this is mostly an Audible.com issue where they can rate it and don't even have to leave a review that might be traced back to them, along with a VERY generous return policy) to give it one star. You would think they might know by book 6 or 7 that they hate my stuff and would avoid it.
The rule around this house is that, if I make a book related post and see ten or twenty responses in any form, it is a good day. And I have read posts by those who now think that Amazon reviews don't matter. Well, sadly, they are wrong. Those reviews matter to Amazon. When you get them, they include your work in their advertising emails that say, "If you liked this, then you might enjoy..." The folks who say they DON'T matter are the people who aren't getting them. Yeah...sour grape types. And Amazon is not the only place to let your voice be heard. There is Goodreads (now owned by Amazon), Audible.com (owned by Amazon)...wait...are you seeing the trend?
The reality is that, especially as an indie where we sell one book to every 1000 of Stephen King's; and the realistic norm is that we can only hope for 5% to leave a review. Indies rely on our readers much more than some big shot. That is why we cultivate relationships with you. That is why we see you as more than just readers. To many of us, you are our friends, even if we never meet face-to-face. I don't think I ever want to reach the point where I can't respond personally to my emails from people who have read my work and love it (or even hate it if they do so critically and not just out of spite).
This might seem like a bunch of crying. It might seem like I am rambling with no direction. And guess what? Sometimes, that is how my mind works. Writers, much like most entertainers, are usually very full of self-doubt and insecurity. My blog is sort of where I go to just empty my brain sometimes. You would be amazed if you read the many posts that I have written and deleted. Sort of like writing that angry letter, but not actually mailing it. It gets the poison out of your system and allows you to move on. Many of those call out people by name when they mount some sort of social media jihad or show an overwhelming willingness to take, and then suddenly vanish when reciprocation is requested. You don't want to read that, and besides, it most likely makes me look bad, or like a great big baby. Hell, this one might do that. But, hey...nobody is perfect.