Updated: Oct 10
"Why?" Because that's where the biggest lessons are hidden. It doesn't matter if your first book fared well or not. It doesn't matter if people left bad reviews or if you didn't sell a single book. The only thing that matters is what you learn from it before you start writing your second book.
When I wrote "A Hot Mess," I didn't give the readers what they wanted, and that was my first mistake. When I wrote "A Hot Mess", I was not true to my writing, and that was my second mistake. When I wrote "A Hot Mess," I didn't do it justice to it, and that was my third mistake. But my biggest mistake was that I didn't hire an editor.
What does it mean when I say I didn't give the readers what they wanted?
Before stepping into the world of self-publishing, I read a lot, and everywhere it said, "Write a series," because that's what readers want, and it's easier to sell three books to one reader than to sell three books to three different readers. But I didn't follow that rule. I didn't want to write a series; I wanted to write standalone books. So, when I read the reviews that a few readers left, they thought my book, "A Hot Mess," was left on a cliffhanger. Although I didn't understand how because, in my eyes, I gave it an ending, I guess the readers just wanted more. As a writer, I should have given them more. But I didn't, and because my book wasn't slated to be a series, I couldn't give the readers what they wanted.
What does it mean when I say I wasn't true to my writing?
Now, when I read my book back, I feel that my characters lacked the depth and connection that needed to be there. One of the reviews said that the book is a fun read, and that's exactly what it was. But I also know how to write other emotions. Sadly, my book, "A Hot Mess," couldn't depict that. However, I'm glad that this book took Matt back in time :)) And I know I can write better. I can do so much better than "A Hot Mess," but for some reason, I thought throwing in a few super steamy scenes would make up for the lack of emotions, or throwing in a billionaire would just make it work, and having a super beautiful female protagonist would suffice for the plot. And I know, somewhere, I wasn't true to my writing because I don't write steamy scenes, I don't do quick romance. So, why did I go with that route with "A Hot Mess"? Unfortunately, I don't know! But I learned from this. When I started writing my second book, I didn't write mindlessly; instead, I took the time to understand my characters, and I wrote from my heart, not just what would look good on paper.
Why do I feel like I didn't do justice to my writing?
It's because I cherished the plot of my book, but regrettably, I couldn't bring it to its full potential. My readers weren't satisfied, and their disappointment became my most valuable lesson. Instead of succumbing to negativity and criticism, I made the choice to learn from it. I decided to take diligent notes, and, above all, I resolved not to let it shatter my spirit.
Alright, let's talk about my most significant lesson—editing!
To be fair, the first book did go through an editing process. I also wanted to experiment with using "gurl" instead of "girl" at times because I believed it could capture a character's accent or slang more effectively. However, it turns out that I was mistaken. This time, for my second book, I've decided to have it edited by someone who isn't 'Indian.' Hopefully, this will prevent readers from attributing any issues with the book's structure or word choices to my cultural background. I tried something unique by incorporating slang for a few characters to highlight their distinctions in speech, as not everyone talks the same way. But, I've come to realize that I'd rather heed the feedback from my readers and reviewers than the voices in my head. I've shown you some of my harshest reviews, not to dwell on negativity, but because those critiques have become my source of strength. While I may have lost some potential readers due to these reviews, it doesn't mean I won't find other readers who connect with my work. One positive aspect I've gleaned from these reviews is that they loved the story! As a writer, my greatest asset is the story itself, and I'm proud of that accomplishment :D This has motivated me to keep writing, and the encouragement from other 5-star reviews only fuels my determination. In any endeavor, be it writing or any other field, we mustn't allow rejection or criticism to be our downfall. Instead, let it be the driving force that propels us forward.