It’s been an interesting week. Since my BookBub ad ran last Monday, I’ve had a lot of activity with my ebook – a large number of downloads and a jump in the number of reviews on Amazon. This is good.
So, here’s the thing – I’ve been reading all those reviews. They are, by in large, very positive, with the majority of them being 5-star reviews. I like that. Who wouldn’t? But I also read the 3-star reviews and the one 2-star review. They weren’t so flattering (even if the 2-star review actually made me laugh). How should I feel about those?
As we go through life, a test of our character is how we respond to criticism. I don’t think anyone likes it, but are we willing to learn from it? I tried to read those reviews with that in mind. Was there something I could glean to apply to my second book (and my third)? Is there improvement that can be made? The answer is, of course, yes. But I went beyond that. I started to feel discouraged about those reviews. They had morphed from something that could help me to something that just brought me down.
I had to take a step back and remind myself that those negative reviews were a very small percentage of the total reviews. Not everyone is going to love my book, right? So, was I going to pay more attention to that small percentage or the much, much larger percentage of positive comments?
The answer was – neither.
Yes, I’ll still read the reviews and see what there is to learn, but I had to remind myself of something I decided or accepted when I first began this journey. It came about because of a conversation I had in my head. As I wrote that first book I wondered and worried about how it would be received. I recognized it was a good story, but that it wasn’t Pulitzer material. Then I thought about the Pulitzer winners that I’ve read. Those books have struck me with their mastery of words, but I have often disliked the story. It dawned on me that the books I enjoy the most are more about the story than the words.
As I realized this, I accepted the fact that I will never win a Pulitzer. Wow! I said it. And it’s not even a shock to anyone. So, that’s what I had to remember, to tell myself all over again. And, once again, I knew that I was okay with that. I recently won a prestigious award for my writing which does give me some validation, but it’s not the final say on who I am or what I think of myself.
What matters to me at the end of the day is whether I did my best. My best writing will never win me the Pulitzer, but that’s okay because I’m still doing the best I know how. I’m working hard – writing, rewriting, editing, reading, writing some more. I’m focused and determined. I am Mary Ellen Bramwell – nothing more and nothing less, and that’s going to be good enough for me.