No, it wasn’t drugs or alcohol, but instead Amazon ranks and reviews. It became an obsession—three times a day habit. I’d find myself breaking my pace, interrupting my writing to check my Amazon rank, or to see if I had another review.
The obsession, the addiction, grew worse. Reviews eventually trumped my rank. I’d go days, even weeks, without a review, wondering why none appeared, even though I’d sold a fair amount of copies. And when the fateful day would come when one was posted, I’d anxiously read it with too much emotion. Good reviews would make my day, bad reviews would hurt my day.
It was a vicious cycle of ups and downs. I was smart enough to not respond to negative reviews, but not mature enough as a writer to accept them. Or more importantly, learn from them.
As I’ve matured a bit, I don’t take them too seriously. It’s a special occasion that I catch up on reading my book reviews. Usually, it’s more curiosity than anything. I read the good, the bad, and the ugly and it doesn’t mess with my mind like it once did. When I do respond to the negative ones, it’s now with humility. Even understanding.
I do, however, appreciate them. I’m happy that someone would buy my work, read it, and take the time to write a review. Good or bad, the reader has earned that right.
I watch writers do what I did. There have even been some epic freak-out moments from authors. Not classy, in my opinion. Though I suppose I understand. You put your heart and soul into a novel and someone bashes it. It’s a blow to the ego, a slow death of many writers. I’ve seen authors with not so thick skin balk at the idea of putting out another piece for public consumption. It’s heartbreaking when your audience doesn’t enjoy your work—especially when friends and family tell you you’re the next Stephen King.
I might be wrong, but I believe Salinger said something to the effect of, “Publication is an invasion of my privacy.”
Indeed, it is.
It’s one thing to spend months, years, a lifetime on your novel. It’s another to open your heart up to perfect strangers and let them read your innermost thoughts and feelings.
And if you’re not careful, you can obsess about that world. You can obsess about what other people think of your work too much, and it can have great detriment. It can change your style, your craft. It can cause you to worry, to doubt your abilities. It can cause you not to write.
Now, in some ways, this obsession might simply be a filter, like so many other things in this industry. Perhaps it’s to help weed out those who aren’t capable of cutting it. Perhaps not. But that obsession of reviews must be handled in a professional manner, not only publically, but in a writer’s own mind. His or her own ego must accept one simple truth: Everyone has different tastes.
As the years of writing and producing books gathers under my belt, I’ve learned to accept them. Like marriage, they’re for better or worse. Good reviews still put a smile on my face. Bad reviews might still make me cringe. But I listen to valid opinions, learn from my readers and fans. And most importantly, I don’t change my style, or my passion, for anyone—including readers. I stay true to what I love.
Because I don’t write for other people. Not my family, not friends, not fans.
I write because I have an obsession to craft stories, but that’s a different addiction for another time.
In 2009, the third installment, Plight of the Warrior, was released. Then, in 2010, Vincent Hobbes teamed up with 11 other amazing authors, and released the first volume of The Endlands, a short story anthology with 17 mind-bending stories. Vincent recently finished producing the second volume of The Endlands, as well as producing the novel, Progeny, by author Patrick C. Greene. Both were released in 2012. Vincent’s novel, Khost, was released late the same year. It is currently being considering for production in Hollywood. Vincent’s upcoming titles include: Seal Team 2025, Betrayal, The Blue Bus and Charms Indigo.
Vincent resides in North Texas with his wife and German short-haired pointer.