I have a nice romance-writing friend named Sue. Her novels have never hit the USA Today best-seller list but she does okay. The people that find and read her books seem to love them. If you type her name in on Amazon, you’ll find tens of dozens of four-and-five star reviews for the work she’s done. And do you know how often she’s mentioned one of those reviews to me? I mean, ever?
Exactly zero times.
She doesn’t think writers should check their reviews, since many of us are never satisfied by the good ones and some of the nasty ones can feel like a dagger in the heart. I think this is a wise philosophy. I try to follow her suggestion and, for the most part, I do. Of course, this is ever so much easier to do when other people don’t send me emails, reminding me that I don’t have any reviews for Live Love Rewind.
I like our novel – a lot – but I always knew the story might struggle to find an audience. It’s a contemporary romance (a pretty crowded field, these days), it’s not a traditional romance (I mean, out-of-this-world aliens allow our heroine to live her life over and over again, in what is somehow not a science-fiction story), and our heroine chooses the wrong guy a couple of times until she gets it right (one hot lover is almost always preferred). But the tale is what it is, I enjoyed writing it, and it’s been downloaded enough that I know some Kindle owners had to have read it.
It’s just that no one has bothered to leave a review after reading the story. That’s okay, I hardly ever take the time to review anything, either. Glynn, on the other hand, loves writing reviews. Instant coffee, over-the-calf white tube socks, and a cell phone charger were some of his most recent postings. He’ll often post a review of an out-of-print book that almost no one has read, just in case someone somewhere might find a copy. It’s like a bizarre hobby.
So where was I? Oh, yes.
So when someone in my writing group emailed me at the beginning of the week, to tell me (a) her romance novella just received “another 5-star Amazon review!” and “I’m so amazed that people love my little story”, I wasn’t in the most receptive mood. I mean, good for her and all, but couldn’t she have just basked quietly in a glow of secret satisfaction? Since we’d never exchanged emails before, did she really have to share this with – well, with me?
I might have felt more kindly about her note if she hadn’t finished with, “So how is Live Love Rewind doing?” (It’s my own fault, talking about recent projects with the group.) Feeling a little pootie, I haven’t answered her. Sales-wise, my book is on a par with her novella, give or take the daily fluctuations. Review-wise, she’s got me beat by a mile. Which I wouldn’t have discovered, if she hadn’t done the humble brag.
I wanted to complain about the email thing to Glynn, but didn’t. I know he thinks it’s a mistake to check reviews, much less compare the number of reviews, so I’d get no satisfaction there. I couldn’t tell Sue, since she’s the no-review gal. I couldn’t even tell G.W., since I know that Glynn and Sue are right about such things. But I wanted to tell someone.
So I’m telling you.