Wednesday, August 7, 2013

IWSG: The Fall Will Kill You

There’s a famous scene in Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid where the title characters are trapped on a mountain ridge and a posse of hired guns is chasing them down. Sundance is prepared to fight them off, a fight they’ll likely lose, but Butch sees a way out: jump into the river at the bottom of the ravine. Sundance refuses. After a hilarious back and forth, Sundance admits that he can’t swim. Despite the desperation of their situation, Butch cracks up, not because Sundance can’t swim, but because he’s worried about the wrong thing. “The fall will probably kill you,” he says.


I’m posting this as part of the Insecure Writer’s Support Group, hopefully they welcome new members. Anyway, it’s been three months, give or take, since I released my novel, The Wind Maiden. I had no marketing plan, kind of on purpose, and kind of not, because I wouldn’t know what I was doing anyway. Well, anyone who’s published a book – or put their artwork on display, or released a CD, or in any way put their creativity on display for the would to see – understands the sheer terror involved giving it to the world. You also know it’s a thrilling kind of terror, like jumping out of an airplane.* Also like skydiving, the terror fades once you commit. Staring out the side of an airplane at 13,000 feet can get the hardest of hearts jittering, but once you’re tumbling through the air like a load of laundry, there’s not much point in being afraid.


My personal anxiety was simple: what if everyone hates it? I know it’s good, or good enough to be published, at least. I also know it’s not perfect, and good or not, everyone has different tastes. I braced my for the bad reviews. Everyone gets them, even the great ones like Neil Gaimen and Michael Chabon, and I’m not near their territory - not yet, anyway. So bad reviews are the price of doing business, and I was prepared for them. But there was one problem:

I was worried about the wrong thing.

I haven’t gotten any bad reviews yet because I basically haven’t gotten any reviews at all. I’ve sold some books, even to people I don’t know, but so far I have no idea if any of those people have even read it, or if they tried to and gave up, or heck, even if they liked it. I should have expected it: I read a lot, but before I saw things from the author’s perspective, even I never reviewed things, so I’m definitely not taking it personally.

On the other, I really need feedback. I was worried about bad reviews, now I’d kill for one,** This is my first book. I’ve gotten positive comments (and some critiques) form people I know personally, but the readers that don’t know me from Adam, they’ll tell me exactly how they feel, good or bad. And that’s what I want to know.

I’ve just got to figure out how to find them.


*With a parachute. I rather not experience the thrill of jumping without one.



  1. Welcome to IWSG! There's no winning sometimes is there? I personally have not gotten to the point of publishing, so the first thing I want to say is congratulations on it! That is amazing. The next thing is that it's time to network. You gotta get out there and sell your story to people. Starting here is good. Find some other writers with large followings and offer to write up something about their book (good or bad) if they'll write up something about yours. That's an easy way to get some new readers. Try putting your book out there for free through Amazon and see what you get. When I get home from work I'll check out your book and your blurb about it and see if it's engaging. You'd be surprised how many wonderful books never get read because the writer put a teaser that doesn't tease on there.

    That's the best advice I've got right now. Blog tours are kind of a thing and I think it's a good way to start selling some copies and getting some feedback.

    Good luck!

  2. Hello Dan. I am co-hosting ISWG today and welcome you to the group. It really is a great support system. I agree with Mencara, it's wonderful that you a, finished your book, and b, published it. There are wonderfully gifted writers here and you can tap into a wealth of information and resources. Good luck!

  3. Also remember that people are much more likely to complain if they hated something than they are to praise something they liked. Take no news as good news. Good luck!

  4. I agree with Angeline above. Hang in there! :) and enjoy the journey!

  5. Welcome to ISWG! Great post. I am still too scared jump out of the plan and publish my book, so kudos to you. Your book sounds interesting. I'd love to review it for my blog.

  6. Consider hiring a book blog tour and looking into finding some book reviewers. Typically, you give them a free copy of your book in exchange for an honest review. As far as the tours go, they often offer reviews as a part of the tour.

    Many of them, because a tour is promotional in nature, won't post the reviews if they're less than 3 stars. In that case, the review blogger is given the option to post some other content instead (release announcement, excerpt, etc.) and wait until later to post their review. Of course, you have to plan ahead so the reviewers will have time to read your book before the tour.

    Another way to get the word out is to engage in announcing cover reveals and book releases for other authors. If you do that, most will do the same for you in return.

    Welcome to the group! IWSG is a great way to get plugged in to the writing community. :)

    August co-host and IWSG #110

  7. Best of luck, and thanks for sharing your insecurities with us all. I can't imagine self-publishing yet, so you're either further along or braver than I am.

  8. Reviews are hard to come by, which is probably why some of the more scandalous folks pay for them. Are you on Goodreads? I think more people review there than on Amazon. Good luck!