Reviews and customer feedback are golden. Praise can send an author skipping down the street. Criticism (helpful or not so nice) plummets a sensitive soul into the depths of binge watching, carb-heavy gorging, self-destructive pouting funks. After you’ve spent time skipping or pouting, go back and take an analytical look at what your readers are actually saying. I know it’s uncomfortable and maybe a bit scary, but it will help you direct your next literary steps.
I learned something very important during my recent book tour. If a reader enjoys your book and the world you create, they will invest more than money into it. The reader becomes emotionally invested in your characters. They become invested in YOU.
An author’s primary duty is to inspire, teach and entertain. Writing a series is an additional agreement you have with your readers.
“I (State Your Name) swear to continue my character’s story with the same or greater level of quality as I did in Book One. I will not disappoint my readers.”
Example: My latest release is the first book in the Heart Of The Warrior series. I looked at the reviews with an analytical eye and found common themes. First: They loved the characters and are invested in them. (Book Two is on the way. Cross my heart!) Second: Nobody liked the prologue, even though they agreed it gave them historical insight.
My Action: Seeing enough people agreed, I immediately yanked out Book Two’s prologue. Snip. Snip. Issue resolved.
Second Example: I released an urban fantasy in 2014 called, Pariah. It was meant as a standalone novel. I had toyed with sequel ideas, but decided to move onto other projects. A high percentage of the comments have a request for a second book with these characters.
My Action: If readers love the characters and the world I built enough to ask for another story, I will begin outlining that sequel as soon as I’m done with the draft of Book Two in my epic fantasy series.
Bottom line: Storytelling gives me a great deal of enjoyment and fulfillment, however, it is ultimately the Reader I keep in mind.