I read a post this morning on a Facebook group I belong to for indie writers that has left me feeling sad. A young woman, Lauren Howard, has cancelled the release of her debut novel because of people who have not even read the story yet, but are giving her bad ratings on a website. http://laurenpippa.tumblr.com/post/58778318048/cancelling-the-release-of-learning-to-love
(Forgive me, I’m not very good at posting links in a blog post, but I’m working on it!)
It saddens me that because of this, she has decided not to release her book. I personally have not read it, but from what I read on her blog, it sounds like she poured her heart and soul into it. I know exactly how she feels. Let me explain how hard this process is for a writer.
In August 2011, I started writing a story on this blog, Death of a Cantankerous Old Coot. It was just for a few friends and another Facebook group. They all encouraged me to publish it. I was a bit hesitant…ok, I was terrified. Publishing a book has always been a dream of mine, but to have the dream come close to reality was frightening. I did share it with a publisher, who liked the story, but they wanted me to make it longer. I didn’t agree; I felt it would take away from the story. So with the help of a good friend, who designed a cover and formatted it for me, I self-published the book on Amazon and Nook. Then I waited.
The waiting was the hard part. Sales were awful for the first four months. I had started my second book, Death Makes the Front Page, but with sales so bad, I was having second thoughts. But suddenly, sales took off and I felt brave enough to publish the next one. There are now five Lizzie Crenshaw mysteries that I have self-published, and I am working on a sixth one, plus two new series.
Every writer deals with rejection. We all struggle, hope and pray that our stories will be accepted by people. These stories are a part of us; they are our babies. We spend countless hours working on them. We give up precious family time, sleep, sanity (although many in my family question my sanity on a daily basis) to tell the type of story we want to share with others. Then we send it off to beta readers and editors, breathlessly and nervously waiting to find out what they think. We cringe at the notes we get back, scratching our heads at how we screwed up one part so much. We make the changes, send it to the editors and pray (writers pray a LOT) that people will enjoy our efforts.
With the help of friends, we spread the word of the upcoming release. Word of mouth helps writers tremendously. What happened to Lauren is a writer’s worst nightmare. What is worse about this situation is that the book has not even been released, yet people are giving it bad ratings and trashing her. She has tried to get help from the administrators of the website, but they say it is all within the rules.
Help a writer. Read their books, give an honest review. If you don’t like their books, explain why. Most writers do provide their email addresses, and we love hearing from our readers. Tell us what you like or don’t like about the story. I always read all the emails I get, and I pay close attention when they tell me there is something they don’t like. I do my best to fix the things they point out to me. They also send me great story suggestions, and I do use them!
I feel sorry for Lauren Howard. I hate that she isn’t going to publish her story, but I respect her decision. I hope that she writes another one and has the courage to publish it. I will be one of the first ones to read it when she does.