Reviews: How indie authors breathe!

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Carl Rackman very proud of himself at his first book signing.

So you’ve written your first book. Congratulations! It’s a feat in itself. And the part you thought was the hardest.

Then comes the part you possibly didn’t consider. You begin to review what you’ve written in your first draft. You leave it to cure for a bit, then tweak it, rewrite parts, craft it, edit it some more, and maybe pay a few quid to a professional to give it that final polish.

Then you probably pass it around family and friends, and everyone tells you how great it is, and how great you are. You separate a couple of people you know will read it with more purpose than your mum might (unless your mum IS that person!) You absorb the feedback, and make more adventurous changes. Perhaps the finished article is a significantly different work to the original first draft that you were so proud of. And from your initial feedback among the twenty or so first readers, it IS something to be proud of.

Armed with that praise, you begin to seek a wider audience, that acid test of your writing and crafting skills. You may pass your manuscript around agents or publishers, believing that each letter is the gateway to success. Every little nibble on the line that you trawl before the industry is the heart-stopping chink in the door.

But the rejections begin to pile up, and it preys on your confidence. Soon you are struggling to believe in the very thing that drove you into each day with a spring in your step and dreams of new freedom. Worst of all – perhaps you begin to think that this writing malarkey was a waste of everyone’s time, including, most of all, your own.

Then thank goodness for self-publishing. Because getting your book out there on Kindle is a wonderful thing. It doesn’t lead to mega-sales and financial security, but it does get your hard-fought artistic triumph out in the wider marketplace.

And that is where the reviews begin to trickle in.

I’m still on the foothills of creative writing, having produced just one novel so far (another is a written first draft, but more on that another day!) and I can barely convey the extreme relief I felt when independent reviews began to come in for my book Irex. They don’t have to be five stars, nor even four (I would draw the line at three!) but simply being read and acknowledged, especially by other authors, is a wonderful thing for an indie.

More than that, the huge sense of achievement that I get when someone not only enjoys the book but “gets” it – that literally breathes life back into my endeavours.

I recently had an review from an independent author, Terry Tyler, which did exactly that. Terry Tyler Blog I can’t credit her with superior knowledge, as I don’t really know her other than on Twitter, but she “got it”. It made everything right again.

So I would re-iterate yet again what really makes the lifeblood of indie writing – (and yes, we’d all like to be millionaires and make passive monthly incomes of five figures, but that’s not what makes writing work for me.) It’s the reviews. It’s when you realise that your writing works, and people are getting your messages.

So please support your indie colleagues; write, read and review – if you enjoyed it, of course!