What do you mean you only gave my book two stars?

What do you mean you only gave my book two stars? I spent a little over six months writing, and then editing and publishing my first book. Since this was my first book I started the whole process without any idea of what to expect. Writing the book for me was not difficult. I enjoy writing and I can knock out my thousand word goal on my train ride to work each day without any real trouble. It’s fun and it relaxes me before the stress of my job. The editing process was a little more difficult for me. You have to reread your book, then have other people read your book and judge what you wrote. I paid for an editing service through Createspace and both of the editors did a great job and offered very good notes on my writing. It was a little difficult for me to make changes to my book and sometimes I wanted to hit my head on the wall for some of the stupid mistakes I had made. This was something I expected. I knew you had to have other people read your book and help you to make the best product you can make. The quote I remember is you have to be willing to “kill your darlings,” and this is true. When you write your mind spills out your thoughts and sometimes the things that come out have no business being on the page. Even the best writers have to have their books edited. It’s just how it is. So I accepted that and moved forward. I had my book edited, had a cover created and finally published my book on Amazon. Just like that I was a self published author. It was a lot of work and I felt good to have my book listed on Amazon. My book has sold and as it has sold people have read and rated my book. On Amazon I have a 4.5 average rating with twenty-one reviews currently. On Goodreads my book has a 3.76 rating with forty-six reviews currently. Most of the reviews are three stars and up but there are also two star reviews. A few of the two star ratings the people wrote reviews to go along with them. For me this is the hardest part of writing the book. People have said a lot of kind words about my books and I enjoy reading those reviews. The problem is those dang two star reviews. I have lived long enough to know that people have a tendency to focus on the negative and I am no different. I have listened to enough people being interviewed to know that anyone who creates something and puts it out there for people to read or watch or play is in the same boat. The problem is that some of the two star reviews are correct. I read the review and look at what the person is saying and I know they are right. There are areas of my writing that I know I need to work on. So I try to take what the reviewers are saying to heart. Then I’ll read another two star review which contradicts what the other negative review says. Now I’ve got two negative reviews each saying something different. The book is to long, or to short. I didn’t understand this characters motivation. The writing is to descriptive. No wait it’s rushed and not descriptive enough. Then if you read the positive reviews they say the exact opposite. Since this is my first book and I want to improve my writing I need to find the areas that I need to work on. I think I have an idea of the areas I need to work on and I know not everyone will love my book. It’s just difficult to stay positive while reading negative reviews. I have finished my next book and will begin the process of editing it soon. I am going to work on the areas that I think I am weak on. I think I need to flush out some of the characters motivations a little more. One point of pride for me is that I have been compared in the reviews to both Stephen King and Dean Koontz. There was a two star rating from a blogger I asked to review my book that said the book started out as Stephen King and switched to Dean Koontz. I think he meant that switch as a negative. To me there was no greater compliment. Both of those authors have written books that I could no put down. Off the top of my head from Stephen King I could not put down The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon and The Green Mile. For Dean Koontz, Phantoms and Odd Thomas are two that come to mind. If their writing careers just consisted of those books I think both of them would be said to be successful. They both have a body of work much greater than that and you would not waste your time if those were the only two authors you read. So I take that as a compliment. The review itself, even though the blogger ended up not liking my book, was well thought out and I appreciated his comments. My daughter says that I need to learn to have thicker skin and I know that she is right. If I am going to write books and put them out there for people to read, I know there will be bad reviews. I have to try focus on the good reviews and when I read the bad ones, I need to see if there is anything there I can learn from. There usually is. I also want to take a moment to thank anyone who has taken the time to read my book. I know there is a ton of stuff out there looking to entertain you. If you took the time to read my book, then you have earned the right to rate it however you like. I will try to keep improving my writing. When my next book comes out I hope you will take the time to read it, and if you like it rate it. Even if you don’t like it I guess you can rate it, but if you accidentally slip and give it four or five stars, I won’t be mad.

My First Book

When I turned forty two years old I had a midlife crisis. I don't think there is anything unusual about that, a lot of people my age start to take the time to look at their life, and the things they wanted to accomplish and realize that maybe their life has not taken them where they want to go.

For me, I realized that my life was probably a little more than half over and I had not done one thing I had always wanted to do. I wanted to write a book. The problem was that I had no idea what was needed to write a book or how I would even go about publishing a book.

Since I am a geek the first thing I did was look for books on writing. It occurred to me that years earlier I had read a book by Stephen King called On Writing. At the time I read it I thought that it was an interesting read, but I set it aside when I had finished and went on to reading other books.

The Wordsmith
By Alan Ayer

I figured this was a good time to reread On Writing. Sometimes in life I make really good choices and this was one of them. I reread On Writing and this time I really focused on what Stephen King had to say about writing.

The book opened my eyes. If I wanted to be a writer I needed to start writing. I always have ideas for stories bouncing around in my head, but I had never bothered to put any of them on paper.  At that point I set two goals for myself.

The first goal was to write at least one thousand words per day. This was easier said than done. I work a full time job and have a family. For good writing you need to carve out some time for yourself.

I decided I would do this every morning on my commute to work. I take Caltrain from San Jose to San Francisco each morning. This proved to be the perfect time for me to write. Most of the time I can get the thousand words done in under the hour that the train ride takes. Sometimes I would finish right as the train pulled into the station, but I would not stop writing until I got the thousand words.

The second goal I set for myself was to finish a novel. I looked online to find out what the best word count was for a first time writer and the consensus was eighty thousand words. So I would limit my novel to eighty thousand words. Looking back I wish I hadn't done that because I feel the ending of the book was a little rushed since I was trying not to go over the eighty thousand words, but other than that I did finish the novel.

Along the way I also wrote a few short stories and found that I truly enjoy writing. I am very happy with how my novel turned out and I have a second one finished that I need to start reading for the first pass at editing.

For anyone else that wants to write a novel, or has an idea bouncing around in their head the only advice I would give is to just start writing. If it worked for me it can work for you. Good luck!