I got my first one star review today, or rather, I noticed it today. Someone had given an awesome rating to King’s Silver and had felt very disappointed after reading The Forgotten Village. To be honest, I’m not sure that I blame them. King’s Silver was written and published with Three Furies Press who absolutely rock, are really patient with me and great at sorting out erratic punctuation. They also are able to divide text into chapters, which is utterly beyond me. The Forgotten Village is a very different kettle of fish.
In fact, the story of The Forgotten Village is a perfect example of my life and how I seem to fall into things. I sort of self-published it by accident. I was not in a particularly brilliant place, my son was tiny, I felt very isolated and my family was having a hard time. My uncle was starting to fade and my elderly father was coming to live with us. I had always wanted to write, so started with an urban fantasy story that didn’t really come from anywhere. I was playing around while the story I really wanted to write (ironically enough, King’s Silver) simmered away on the back burner. I posted the story on a writing website, which I’ve long since forgotten, and got some good feedback.
I also got someone who wanted to buy the rights to the book. For a moment I was dazzled. I imagined getting enough money for a new kitchen. Then I took stock, and realised that I would be lucky to get enough for a new toaster. I wasn’t sure about the person who asked, either. I couldn’t find any trace of them, and they would have bought all the rights. I already had a sequel in mind, which I wouldn’t have been able to write if I sold the first, and so I decided against it.
I had just started hearing about self publishing so I thought that I would have a go. I went on Amazon and Smashwords, uploaded the file and away I went. That was back in 2012.
I don’t feel qualified to advise people who would like to write. All I can suggest is do what I do – observe, daydream and write. Write lots. And keep nibbling away, even if it’s just a word or a line, and keep going. My personal life was absolute chaos for a few years after that, but I picked myself up around 2017 or 2018 and now I have three books with the Three Furies Press, a few more planned and some great ideas for my own stuff.
The one star review complained about poor editing (guilty as charged) and one dimensional characters (probably). Of course my instinctive reaction was to deny it. But really, it means I’ve got better. I’m a better writer now than I was ten or twelve years ago and I am getting better with every book. And that is awesome. If I wasn’t getting better, I would be doing it wrong.
I’m getting better thanks to the feedback and encouragement of Rebekah and Isa at the Three Furies, as well as loads of others, like Julia, along the way. I am still writing because of support and kindness from people on this blog and my mum blog, and people around me, and I’m very grateful. And I am sort of grateful for that one star review. It’s a reminder that I’m getting better. And that is not a bad thing.