On this, the eve of publication of my third (and long-awaited) novel, Starting from Scratch, I figured I needed to post about book reviews.
I don't intend to speak for every author in the world, but there's generally a reason they climb out of bed each morning, shuffle their way into the kitchen and turn on the coffee maker, and then sit in front of their computer screen until they have a headache and they can't feel their butts anymore:
They have an idea for a story, and they can't rest until it's written down.
Yes, being an author is so charming and quaint and it's such a cool lifestyle, blah blah blah. You can wear hipster glasses and go to coffee shops and drink huge steaming cups of tea. And obviously you'll be rich, right? The reality of it sucks so much more.
You have an idea, great! It's turning that idea into a 300+ page novel with realistic characters, a believable plot, momentum to keep the story moving, mind-blowing sexual tension...that's the difficult part. And I haven't even talked about editing and formatting and re-writing, or any of the other crap that comes after you finish writing.
So why do authors do it? Why did I spend a year and a half writing and re-writing a story that I promised my readers would be out in the Fall of 2013? Why not just give up? It certainly wasn't the book sales from Baking Bree or Passion's Tide. So why do it at all?
"This is truly one of the best books I've read in awhile. I easily found myself engrossed in it and had a hard time putting it down. I found myself saying , "5 more minutes" and looking at the clock thirty minutes later knowing that I needed to put it down and go to sleep. Looking forward to the next book in the series."
"This was such a cute, heartwarming story, and a great read - in fact, I found myself laughing out loud several times at the many comedic moments in the book - totally my sense of humour. Bree's quirky personality was authentic and adorable, and as one who started out learning to cook by burning spaghetti, I loved reading about her misadventures in cooking. I'm definitely looking forward to more books by this author!"
"This is an amazing book! I couldn't put it down. There were a lot of emotions in this book. I was laughing my butt off in lots of it, then there were parts that I was actually really irritated at the characters( the mom and sister). Then times that I felt a tug on my heart. Not all books can do this, but when it happens, it is a wonderful combination. The love story is....wow....I was completely smitten. Can't wait to read the next book about the sister Emily. I will definitely be reading any books that Sarah West comes out with."
I am so touched by the positive reviews I get on Amazon. Hearing that I made people laugh and cry makes me want to write another book that will do the same! Learning that readers related to so many characters inspires me to bring the characters back in a new story that will keep my readers happy. Getting irritated emails from readers demanding to know where the book that I promised them six months ago is, really makes me write faster.
And you know what? I love my negative reviews, too. I know that not everyone who picks up a book is going to love it. Hell, I've written some pretty negative reviews myself. But as long as they are honest, clearly state what they didn't like (typos? I can fix those. Hated the sex scenes and swearing? Sorry, mom, that's not going to change) I appreciate all feedback. I am always looking to improve, and I'm not afraid of some constructive criticism.
So the next time you finish a book you read, take two minutes and write three sentences explaining what you liked or didn't like. You're helping other readers, who might be on the fence about buying a book, decide whether or not to get it, and you're helping me by giving me feedback about what works in a story and what doesn't work.
In fact, if you're bored at work or stuck inside on a rainy day, go to amazon and click on your recent purchases. You can go down the list and review everything you've purchased. It's sort of fun! And the authors, sellers, and other shoppers will thank you for your opinion.
And now I'm going to climb down off my soapbox and publish my damn book! Recipes to follow.