For my first book release, I did what many authors do. I gave copies of my book to everyone I knew, followed up with them with the intensity of an air traffic controller, and then begged to be evaluated. It was only when I had garnered about twenty five reviews that I was comfortable enough to share my work with strangers.
For my second book, I have been much bolder. I only showed Petty Cash to a select few people (about five) and then launched it on Amazon. Each day, I pull up the page with one eye closed, bracing myself to get hammered. But you know what? It really hasn’t been that bad. In fact, total strangers have written the best reviews of all. Who knew?
It’s awkward to provide feedback to our loved ones at times. People often avoid conflict with those close to them, and they may whitewash their feedback in an attempt to encourage us. Although this is done out of love, we must take the feedback from those who love us with a grain of salt. The people closest to us will also see the content a bit differently than the writing of someone about whom they know nothing.Those close to us will have a built in filter as they regard each character, setting, and turn of phrase.
On the other hand, strangers have no such filters. Since there is no fear of impacting the relationship, the comments and reviews of strangers are incredibly forthright. Some of the feedback from strangers has been so outstanding and helpful, that I have modifed the story slightly to reflect their feedback, which is easy to do with an e-book. Some of the people who write reviews are so eloquent that it seems like they should be reviewing books on a professional basis – and maybe they do.
From what I understand, it is considered bad taste for authors to engage with strangers who have written reviews on their work. That makes sense, but sometimes it’s hard to keep silent and not thank them for putting in the time and effort of creating a review. The exercise has really driven home the concept of relying on the kindness of strangers. Honesty is actually a type of kindness, even if it stings from time to time.
For a myriad of reasons, friends and family may not be able to convey the true value of our writing. It just might be the people you have never met, perhaps in other countires or on the other side of the world, who may end up giving you more validation and insight about your work than you ever imagined.
Who do you trust to provide feedback on your writing?
Have you ever received helpful comments and reviews from total strangers?