The Right "Write" Attitude

Rolling with the punches inspired this article because I'm still sick and supposed to be taking it easy. Sometimes you just can't go about business as usual. You just have to take a step back whether you want to or not.

Today, let's talk about the way you respond to your audience. When your work is put out into the world, you'll sometimes receive unanticipated responses from that audience.

(This article previously appeared in Writing Hacks, my subscription newsletter for writers. Subscribe today if you want to read articles like this as soon as they are published.)

A lot of authors indie publish a book and wait for the bucks to roll in. They're stunned when their book doesn't sell. A month passes, and they want to weep when they see their sales report. They get depressed. They begin to question their writing and their writing career.

A lot of authors indie publish a book and wait for accolades to be tossed their way. When they immediately get a scathing 1-star review, they're devastated. Weeks pass, more bad reviews appear even though they also have a few excellent 5-star reviews. Each bad one is like a knife in the heart. They get depressed. They begin to question their writing and their writing career.

Tempered and Tough

Most of these authors I've described above have not been in the trenches for years on end -- writing, submitting to NY editors and agents, and getting rejected over and over. Or, they've never had a book come out from a publisher and had it trashed by "real" reviewers, meaning those hired by a periodical to write journalistic reviews, not casual readers posting reviews.

The problem with these authors who are having their hearts broken is that they haven't been toughened by years in the trenches. I've been doing this for more than 20 years. Just as steel is made stronger by heat-tempering, so is an author by being roasted alive on a fairly regular basis.

I have some advice for all of you who aren't selling like you wish or those who are getting savaged by heartless reviewers. Consider adopting these characteristics for the new year.

7 Tips For Attitude Adjustment

1. This is a marathon, not a sprint.

If you're in this to make some quick bucks over a short time frame, then you're in the wrong business. From the moment you begin indie publishing, you must know that you're in it for the long haul. It will take time to build an audience and name recognition and begin selling steadily each day.

2. Learn everything you can about marketing and promotion.

Pick and choose among the many avenues and do what you can do without sacrificing the writing.

3. Write and keep improving.

4. Strive to publish at least 2 books a year to keep growing your audience satisfied.

5. Learn to ignore bad reviews because you will ALWAYS get them. There's no avoiding them. Just read some of the scathing reviews the biggest names in romance get -- like two of my favorites, Susan Elizabeth Phillips or Linda Howard -- and you'll realize that there are a ton of people who don't like the 2 most popular names in the genre! So if people don't like your books, then you're in good company.

6. Focus on the good -- making sales however few they may be -- and adopt the attitude that tomorrow will be brighter and keep trying.

If you sold a book this week, then rejoice! Careers are built one book at a time; one sale at a time.

7. Don't look at other authors who are doing well and envy their success. For heaven's sake, don't try to sabotage your fellow authors because they're succeeding, and you're not. What goes around; comes around.

I've been a professional writer -- meaning earning my primary income from writing -- for a couple of decades. I had a lot of lean years even when I was selling regularly to NY. There were more years when my writing income came from freelance clients not from books. I just didn't give up though, and finally all the hard work paid off. A lot of people might look at me and say that I made it big in less than a year, but they don't see that other 20+ years of work and dedication.

Takeaway Truth

No one has it easy. You either pay your dues in the beginning, along the way, or just when you think you're going to get the big break. No one gets off scot-free, but you can make it easier on yourself by adopting the right "write" attitude. That attitude adjustment will help you be less vulnerable to stinker reviews, and it will also keep your motivation ramped up.


  1. I thought I was prepared for the bad reviews. And maybe I was because I didn't bat an eyelash at the first "This sucks!"

    The ones that got me were the "This is better than I expected" or "Wow! This didn't have that many grammatical errors."

    DH has now banned me from reading any reviews.

    Stay in bed and get healthy, Joan!

  2. Suzan Harden ... Yep. Nothing like a left-handed compliment to make your eyes cross.