I’ve been feeling weird.
This whole second half of August has been like one long, awkward pause.
I’m not good with too much downtime. When things are quiet, the mind will play tricks.
Some of my recent interactions have felt…charged. I feel restless. I have a mild toothache, this one tooth that’s feeling ultra sensitive, and upsetting all the other teeth.
Then, the other day, I broke my personal policy of never reading reviews of the book, and read a horrible one by accident.
I was reading a good one (“Fantastic book! 5 stars!”), when my eye slid to a 1-star review, a man named “Dave” whose review was one big obnoxious eye roll about “Do we really need another life coach” (excuse me, I am not a life coach), and something to the effect of, and I’ll paraphrase because I’m not rereading it, “This woman is privileged and boring and nothing’s ever happened to her of note, it’s a horrible book, she has zero intellect or creativity, and she must have known people in order to get the book published.”
The voice in that review is precisely the one that rang through my head while I was writing it. Now my critic has a name: Dave.
Maybe I am boring and have nothing to say and will be just another (insert name of loathed author here). And maybe I’m not.
(He also called me a Mel Robbins knock off, and you know what? I’ll take it. Happily.)
Here’s a link to the reviews if you want to see—I’m staying out of there.
What happened as a result of that 1-star review? Absolutely nothing.
Not one thing. No one cares that Dave is howling into the void.
Here’s another winner: One company actually returned the 25 copies of the book they bought (who does that?) because they found it…inappropriate, unprofessional, vile. What? Does this book look vile to you?
I would have preferred that she burn the whole lot of them, and posted it on IG. That’d be some amazing PR.
(I told my publisher about the 25 returned books, and they said, and I quote, “We don’t give a f*&! about 25 books.” And I loved them for that.)
Oh! And I also got an email from a Karen, complaining that I used the word “Karen” to describe…a Karen. That’s right. A Karen complained about my use of the word Karen. Read that again and your head will explode.
Will someone hate your stuff? Yup. Will they ridicule, criticize, or call you out? They might. And?
And you do it anyway. You write the thing anyway. You make it, share it, try it anyway.
There will always be Daves, and if it were up to them, no one would take any risks, or make anything at all.
So if you feel your inner Dave surfacing during this weird downtime-y period, I feel you. We shrug, and move on.
Of course, while no single review will move the needle, Amazon ratings overall do matter, especially for new authors like me.
And since someone had to tell me, I’ll tell you how it works:
When you give a book a 5-star rating, you’re not saying it’s the best of all time; you’re saying it’s worth recommending.
The more 5-star ratings, the more likely that title is to get picked up by the algorithm and suggested to people who might like it.
Anything less than that, and it’s like taking copies of my book and hiding them behind other books so that no one ever sees it.
Since you’re on my very short list of people with whom I talk to regularly, I’m going to ask you this favor:
Would you go onto Amazon and give the book a 5-star rating? You don’t have to write up an opus on it. You can read five pages of the book and get a sense of why or whether it’s worth sharing.
Don’t have a copy yet? You can buy it from Amazon in any format you like or an indie retailer here.
We can’t remove Dave from the world. But we can talk over him. Why not? Dave’s been talking over us for decades.
P.S. If you’re a GoodReads person, by all means, copy/paste that 5-star review right over here, too!