Unhitch Your Wagon from the Stars

“Abandoning the Pursuit of Approval”

Beth K. VogtGuest Blogger: Beth K. Vogt

Excuse me while I unhitch my wagon from the stars.

No, I’m not choosing mediocrity. I embrace Ralph Waldo Emerson’s original intent of the phrase “Hitch your wagon to the stars” — encouraging people to strive for great things like love and justice.

Emerson, lucky man, knew nothing of today’s “stars” that so many writers pursue: the ones found in Amazon book reviews. Or Goodreads. Barnes and Noble. CBD. Books-A-Million. Pick your preferred online book seller.

I’ve seen many a writer chase the virtual stars tossed across the Internet. Hey, when my nonfiction book was published, I climbed aboard that wagon and chased down each and every review, gathering up the stars of opinion. But with my debut novel Wish You Were Here hitting the bookstores next month, I’ve thought long and hard about the whole “here come the reviews” wild ride.

And I am not aiming for the stars.

Don’t get me wrong. I hope people like my novel. I mean, why else would I write a book – for people not to like it? Sheesh.

Here’s one thing I know:

Some people will like my book. Some people won’t. And hitching my wagon to the stars tossed out by readers and reviewers sets me up for a bumpy ride. Five stars = a smooth, paved road. One star = wagon in a ditch.

Do I want to anchor my sense of self, my sense of satisfaction, to a daily tally of virtual stars? Believe me, given the right set of circumstances – fatigue, a need for approval, unrealistic expectations – I could be all about the tally.

Here’s something else I know:

I am not the sum of the stars amassed on some website – no matter how many 5-star reviews I receive. And I am still not the sum of the stars amassed on some website – no matter how many 1-star reviews I receive.

People can decide whether they like my book or not. People can even decide if they like me or not. I’ve already decided where my sense of worth is found – and it’s not in an unstable, always shifting pile of stars. I’ve hitched my sense of who I am to my faith . . . and that’s all I’m going to say about that. Not because I couldn’t say more, but because I truly want this to be a dialogue – a conversation – not a monologue.

Has your wagon ever been overturned by bumpy reviews? Have you ever been buried under a pile of stars? Have you hitched your sense of self worth as a writer to anything – and how’s that working for you?

***

Wish You Were Here

Beth K. Vogt provides her readers with a happily-ever-after woven through with humor, reality, and God’s lavish grace. She’s a non-fiction author who said she’d never write fiction. She’s the wife of an Air Force physician (now in solo practice) who said she’d never marry a doctor—or anyone in the military. She’s a mom of four who said she’d never have kids. Beth has discovered that God’s best often waits behind the doors marked “Never.” She writes contemporary romance because she believes there’s more to happily-ever-after than the fairy tales tell us.

Click to visit Beth online.

Click for Beth’s Facebook.

Click for Beth’s Twitter.

  1. Madun says:

    We’d forgotten about puffs! That was one of her first food words. Nana also just meeiotnnd pumpkin which I’ve also added to the list. The count now stands at 28.

  2. Love this post and the insight about those stars. I too often go there when it’d be best if I stayed grounded in today’s assignments. Thanks for the reminder, Beth. And thanks for providing a wonderful place for writers to hang out and learn, Rachelle.

  3. MAC Makeup says:

    Thtank you for share!

  4. Brianna says:

    This is a good reminder to be patient and remember that our stars will come when they are meant to.

  5. E. Kaiser says:

    -“affects”-
    Rats! A typo already.
    😉

  6. E. Kaiser says:

    Good thoughts, Beth! It’s so important to be able to hold onto the nuggets of wisdom, and remember to implement them at the right time! But… also soo, sooo hard!

    As writers we all are trying to reach someone outside ourselves with our words, and when those are flung back in our faces it does feel like personal rejection on a first-love-and-they-don’t-like-you-back sort of level.

    On the flip side; as writers we strive for continual improvement, and hearing what readers have to say is important with that. Choosing which readers you listen to can be really tough. (Is it an “I’m great” or an “I’m awful” day? I find this effects who I believe!)

    I think writers who have found a network of other writers who both understand and build them up are incredibly lucky. Cherish that!

    Thanks for the post!
    Elizabeth

  7. Receiving feedback in a critique group helps smooth out the bumps in the writing road. Honest critiques toughen your writing skin as you bump along learning the craft. I enjoy the way this post reveals normal vulnerabilities that writers experience.

  8. Beth,

    You always have a fresh way of sharing truth. Thank you.

    I look forward to reading your book. As you know I rarely read fiction, but I do plan to read yours.

    I credit your encouragement to my writing journey. I would’ve quit years ago if I didn’t have you. Remember my whining as I worked through the guild course? Haha. You taught me to press on and through. You helped me believe I was a writer.

    And today, I’m still writing.

    Thank you,

    Tiffany

  9. Suzanne says:

    Beth-

    You have such wonderful perspective! I will be praying for you as you pursue all of the doors thrown open to you, especially since it sounds like you never would have opened them yourself.

    Blessings!

  10. Heather says:

    Your post is wonderful, but in reading your bio, I burst out laughing. After all, I too said I would never marry a fellow architect, and especially the man who is my husband. Never say never I guess. I’ve also said never to kids… lets see how that one turns out.

  11. Beth, I love this. Good for you. While I’m not yet published, I have several friends who are. One of them got an awful review and even though she’d gotten a ton of positive ones, she was so down that she couldn’t write for months. She now doesn’t look at reviews.

    Thanks for sharing!

    • Beth K. Vogt says:

      Jenna,
      The power of one — one negative, that is. This is why a “safety net” is so important — a group of trusted friends who will hold on to you when you’re knocked down by something like a negative review or even an offhand comment. Sometimes those trip me up more than anything else.

  12. Great reality check, Beth. Thanks!

    • Beth K. Vogt says:

      Thanks, Megan. I’ve appreciated the times we’ve gotten together over breakfast and talked about life along the writing road. You help keep me grounded. 🙂

  13. Donna Pyle says:

    Beth, I love the honesty and transparency here about your publishing ride. Thanks so much for sharing your wisdom to ensure our wagon is hitched appropriately. 🙂

  14. Josh says:

    Amen Beth, a post from the heart. Congrats on your upcoming book.

    • Beth K. Vogt says:

      Thanks for the congratulations, Josh. And, yes, this post was from my heart. But the conversation that was shared here today –wow. It so, so encouraged me and challenged me even more to unhitch my wagon from the stars.

  15. Michelle Lim says:

    You bet!So excited about your new book!

  16. Michelle Lim says:

    Great Post, Beth! I need to remember this.

  17. Peter DeHaan says:

    Once after a public speaking gig I was able to review the written comments on the speaker evaluation. Nineteen were positive; one was negative. The negative note is the only one I remember: “I thought a keynote address was supposed to be entertaining.”

    • Beth K. Vogt says:

      Peter,
      Isn’t it always like that?
      Sheesh.
      It’s said that one negative comment can obliterate all the positives … and it’s been true in my life.
      That’s why the older I get (not revealing my age) ;), I’m more and more determined to have a strong foundation and a laser like focus on the truth — so the comments and reviews don’t determine my attitude.

  18. Thanks again, Rachelle, for hosting such a wonderfully encouraging forum. I need to be regularly reminded about abandoning the pursuit of approval- and the list of all the things Beth Vogt said she would never do brought a knowing chuckle.

  19. Leslie Payne says:

    So glad we “met” today, Beth! I appreciate your post and the wisdom it contains.

    When I lost my career and active life I loved, I realized how much I had hitched myself to those stars. I loved being an interpreter and a dancer. But living with chronic pain? Not the identity I was looking for. Yet in the journey I’ve learned our worth comes only from Him, by His grace.

    As the Lord continues to allow me to write, I hope and pray He is all I hold onto.

    • Beth K. Vogt says:

      Enjoyed “meeting” you too, Leslie — yet another wonderful aspect of the writing community. I admire your courage as you turned chronic pain into a reason to write and encourage others.

  20. Another thought just hit me. Have you read “You are Special” by Max Lucado? It’s a children’s book, but says all this so well. My daughter combined it with some of Melody Carlson’s Color Me series books into a speech that made it to nationals when she was in high school. Powerful. I wish I had 100 copies of that book to give away to kids and adults alike. Make that 1000.

    • Beth K. Vogt says:

      Paula,
      You and I could share a “remember when” moment, couldn’t we?
      I’ve watched you walk the writing road with such faith and humility –always considering others more important than yourself. I’m still celebrating your book contract being announced at ACFW last September!
      And yes, I love Max Lucado’s book.

  21. Great post, Beth. I think part of the reason it took me ten years to publish my first novel is so the LORD could help me understand that whether I get rejection letters or contracts, I am still me. The stars (or lack thereof) still affect my emotions sometimes, but not my core. In that place, I know who I am and what I am about.

  22. Joe Pote says:

    Beth, I think I’ll just support you in your stance, by not telling you whether or not I like this post… 😉

  23. Beth K. Vogt says:

    Jennifer,
    Loved reading your stargazing story. Yeah, all writers need an occasional kick in the ol’ keyboard.

  24. Jennifer Major says:

    I write an op-ed column for our city’s newspaper.And with that column goes a photo. I refuse to let them change by photo because it was taken 4 years ago. It’s my “I just got back from a mission trip and wow, talk about a fabulous diet!” picture. I am *that* vain about a headshot. There’s one star.
    I actually do get recognized, annually, and it used to totally go to my head until one sad day in the line up at Stuffmart. A woman seemed really bouncy and excited when she looked at me, who knows why, and asked “Are YOU the lady who write in the paper?!?!?!”
    Fixes hair. Adds 2 stars.
    “Yes, yes I am.”
    Get’s ready for the compliment.
    “Oh.”
    That was IT. She set me up and I completely fell for it. Those stars hurt when they land on your head.

    There is a saying “get your wagons in a circle!” It means to surround yourself with your trusted protectors and combat the attack from within.
    As I finish/edit/tweek/re-read/edit/tweek/finish my first novel, I have let my trusted critique team keep me grounded. I may get star-struck again, but I know God will send someone to kick me in the keyboard should I start pulling shiny objects from the sky.
    I don’t write for the fame/money/stars…I write because I like it when people say, “Wow, that was a great story”. My worth is in the One who gave my my story telling skills.

  25. Amy Sorrells says:

    Yet another reason you’re so amazing and I want to be just like you when I grow up, Beth!!!! So thrilled for you and your novel!!! And thanks for the important reminders in this post.

  26. This is a brilliant post. A keeper. Thank you for speaking this truth that every author needs to hear!

  27. I ignore the stars and read what is written. After all, I’m a unique person and have my own idea about what I’m looking for in a book. Popular voting won’t tell me if it’s there, intelligent comments will. Some of my favorite books were never very popular, and I’ve read best sellers that I hated. I’m glad that my tastes are “not written in the stars.”

  28. Beth, I love this. Great post. I don’t think a lot of people understand that the writer’s life is about rejection, even after you get published.

    I started a series on my blog about Ridiculous One Star Reviews on Amazon, where I look at literary classics and their one star reviews. It’s pretty funny and I basically use it as a coping mechanism for when my books get one star reviews! 🙂

    http://www.mikalatos.com/search/label/ridiculous%20reviewers%20on%20amazon

  29. Beth, I look forward to reading Wish You Were Here. 🙂

    The prospect of reviews is scary enough. To tie up all our self-worth in them would be silly.

    You’re awesome and I know your book will be, as well!

    Such great advice! Thank you!

  30. Reba says:

    Beth:
    Thank you for the post. I do not chase reviews. Who needs a total stranger making ups jump through hoops?
    They do not know us the person, or us the writer. So why give them that power?
    Don’t get me wrong, I do care what my readers think about my books, and when I get feedback I tend to listen. But we must ask ourselves; who’s approval are we seeking? and Why?
    Thanks again for your post, it was an encouragement.

    • Beth K. Vogt says:

      Nodding my head as I read your comment Reba — uh-huh, uh-huh. I could make myself crazy chasing after everyone else’s approval.
      Wait a minute. I think I went that route for a while …
      😉

  31. Beth K. Vogt says:

    Michael,
    Oh. My. Word.
    Every book cover has a story behind it — every author knows that is true.
    The art department did an amazing job with my cover, didn’t they? I love it.

  32. Michael Jennings says:

    Beth — aside from a great post, I love your cover design … nice wholesome cover. The woman looks like a younger you.
    My romance novel (out this summer), is probably as wholesome as I believe yours is; even my parish priest and saintly mother would approve of it. Looking forward to reading your novel.

  33. Beth K. Vogt says:

    Sarah,
    Thanks for the verbal hug.
    Writers encouraging writers, that’s what it’s all about.
    We can do this.

  34. Such wise words, Beth. (But then again, I wouldn’t expect anything else coming from you. :)) I’ll admit, the obsession with stars is one of the things I fear most in publication. I’ll come to you for a pep talk when I feel myself caving.

  35. Beth,

    Thank you for this encouraging and sane post. You’ve developed the healthy attitude / outlook that I keep trying to adopt. As a recovering people-pleaser, I do better some days than others.

    Like P.J., I don’t yet have a published piece of writing to hitch to stars. But there are stars in so many aspects of life. Trying to live by their light leads to a lot of tripping and falling. So my light is God, and my self-worth rests in being a child of God. When I remember this, all is well.

    Congratulations on your novel and on having the courage to move into a new genre.

    Blessings!

    • Beth K. Vogt says:

      Christine,
      Thanks for sharing such an important insight: Some days are better than others when it comes to abandoning the pursuit of approval.
      It’s not a one-time decision. It’s a choice I made one time — and that I continue to make, again and again.

  36. Rachel Hauck says:

    Great post! And so very true. As you know from my experience this week.

    Yeah, my beloved The Wedding Dress got a one star review from a man who claimed I had a problem with men.

    The one star killed but the judgment on my character and heart knifed me.

    I have amazing relationships with men — from my father, brothers, friends and husband.

    But I had to let it go. And in some way, examine his review to see if there were any nuggets of truth. Not about me, but about the way I portrayed the men in the story.

    Reviews are personal more to the reviewer than to the author. But it’s really hard to see that when our “babies” are being slammed, when WE are being slammed.

    But that’s part of the fun of it all!

    I think I’ll unhitch my wagon from the stars. And Beth, you book is going to do amazing!!!

    Rachel

    • Beth K. Vogt says:

      Rachel, aka Madame Mentor,
      You’ve been my “safety net” so many times.
      And you’re part of the reason I know I can’t hitch my wagon to the stars.
      And if I try to do it, I know you’ll slap me upside my head and say, “What up, girl?!”
      Everyone needs someone like you in their life.
      I thank God for you.

    • Rachel, who knows what wave rocked his boat. Some folks thrive on negativity.

      I can’t wait to read The Wedding Dress! 🙂

  37. Hi Beth!!! So fun to see you guesting here today. I totally know what you mean about the stars. Since my debut is coming out, I wouldn’t say I’m chasing stars, but I’m definitely overcome with curiosity to see what people say. I hope though that I don’t let the number of stars define me or my writing. I’m just really excited at this point. Now if I start getting one stars, that will probably put a damper on my enthusiasm. lol

    This is a great post and something I need to keep in mind. Thank you!

    • Beth K. Vogt says:

      Jessica,
      Stay excited.
      Celebrate.
      Happy dance.
      I’m all about that.
      You get a one star?
      Email me — and we’ll figure out a way to find the music again and keep on dancing!

  38. What a great post! I think my trailer has been unhitched since I first asked my mom to put my drawing on the refrigerator. I might have been an investment banker if I had ever listened to what people thought of my art.

  39. Tracey says:

    Thank you for this. I try to live my life by a philosophy of ‘I am not defined by others perception of me.’ The tagline of my blog is “The world will put you in a box. Religion will put you in a bubble. You were born to be free; Climb Out!” That said, I am well aware that there are those who dislike my writing, my ideas, me. It’s one thing to mentally prepare yourself for that resistance, but when the blog was finally out there and I was faced with it I found that I cared more than I wished I did. It’s a process, I guess.

  40. Hi Beth,

    I see so many writers riding the emotional roller coaster of reviews. I’ve given a great deal of thought to future reviews of my book that will be released in June, “The Pursuit of Purpose: A Journey to Forgiveness and Healing”. I’ve decided I’m really not interested in reading the reviews because I don’t want the good reviews to go to my head or the bad ones to go to my heart. The book was written in obedience to my heavenly Father and that’s all that really matters. It wasn’t written to entertain. It’s not eloquently written to take the reader through a poetry garden. The book was written to help others and if the reader doesn’t find strength and encouragement in the pages then it simply wasn’t written for them.

  41. karen says:

    Hi Beth!
    I love your analogy of the wagon and the stars. It conjured up an image of a city girl in her jeans and tennis shoes (modern day) standing there with her hands on her hips wondering, “How the heck am I supposed to get my wagon out of the ditch?” while the hero is standing there with arms crossed, silently laughing at her dilemma.
    When I started writing I went in with the attitude, “You can’t please all the people all the time.” Not everyone will like what or how you write, but you must stay true to yourself.

  42. So fun to see you here, Beth!

    Yep, it’s soooo easy to let others’ view of you skew the only view that really counts–how God sees us. I still struggle with this; like Mel, I have the first-born child syndrome going on. Still, God keeps nudging me, reminding me that my self-worth is not found in what I do, but in who I am to Him: a precious daughter.

  43. Beth K. Vogt says:

    Hi, Beth,
    Ah, another Julia Cameron book to add to my To Be Read (TBR) pile. Thank you for adding that perspective to the conversation today: We should write because we love it, because it completes us (Yes!), and it serves our community.

  44. Beth says:

    I really enjoyed this post. Congratulations on your book and the migration from non-fiction to fiction (something I hope to do someday).

    I recently finished experiencing Julia Cameron’s “Walking in This World” and a major theme throughout the book is that we should not create art because we are trying to acquire fame, but because we love it, it makes us complete, and it serves our community.

    I particularly enjoyed the observation that Beth has discovered that God’s best often waits behind the doors marked “Never.”

    Thank you for sharing an excellent reminder and example!

  45. Although I have not published yet, I hope that I will display the same attitude as you…not focusing on what others think, but, of what God wants me to be and do. Thanks for the encouragement, Beth!

    • Beth K. Vogt says:

      Thanks for joining the conversation, Jarm. (Love the name! What’s it mean? ) I love connecting with other writers along the writing road.

      • Jarmila is a Czechoslovokian name which means “lover of Spring”…I am, and I was born in May! My father named me…it was a feminine version of his name: Yaro Victor (I’m Jarmila Victoria). Thanks for asking…

  46. Love this, Beth! Especially in light of where we Debs are on our journey! Such a good reminder!

  47. Heather Kopp says:

    Beth, what a lovely piece. It’s such a timely reminder and one we all need to hear often. I am such a fan. Not of your book or books. But of You!

  48. Jeanne T says:

    Beth, I love the word picture of hitching my wagon to a star (or stars). Such wise words here.

    I keep thinking of the Max Lucado story, You Are Special. I don’t want to be the person who revels in the gold stars or the gray dots. Both give me an inaccurate understanding of who I really am. My worth doesn’t come from what people think. It comes from God.

    I appreciate the reminder to not base my sense of self on what others think of my writing.

  49. Beth,
    Amen, Amen and did I yet say, Amen? We can’t expect everyone to like our work. That would be like expecting everyone to be the same. We were not created that way. In fact, as writers, we’d never develop characters that way. If we did, we’d have a boring story.
    I’ve read books by beloved authors and just couldn’t get into them. But do I trash them? No. Because I’ve met others who loved those books, and most of all, were inspired by them. Who am I to take that away? God has an audience for each of us. For some, it may only be Rover, who faithfully listens as we read our manuscript allowed. For others, it’s larger. We need to write the best books we can and trust God to use them as He planned.

    • Beth K. Vogt says:

      Connie,
      Write … and trust.
      Trust that I’ve done my best (for that book.)
      Trust that I’m open to feedback — so I can do my best for the next book.
      Amen!

  50. Shellie says:

    Beth, your post spoke to me where I am and have been mired a while. I have hitched my wagon not only to those reviews, but to approval in general. and when it doesn’t come as freely or generously as I want it to, I find myself feeling like a failure or being angry at those who I think should have been there to cheer. That is an unkind thing to do to people. And to myself. I’m going to read this post several times more, believe me, until I can say with assurance about myself what you said here: “I’ve hitched my sense of who I am to my faith.” Thanks, Beth.

    • Beth K. Vogt says:

      Shellie,
      Wonderful insight about how searching for approval and the disappointment we experience when we don’t get it mires us down. Kinda like a wagon getting stuck in the mud, eh?

  51. Ann Bracken says:

    My first critique group told me I was wonderful, that my book was perfect, and I should get published right away. Unfortunately, I knew they were wrong, but I couldn’t put my finger on what the problem was. So I changed groups.

    When I got over the initial shock of all the corrections the second one sent, I rejoiced. They were able to show me what I was doing wrong with my writing and I learned.

    As long as a poor review adds constructive commentary, I’ll welcome it. Anything that helps me improve as a writer can only be good.

    Congratulations on your book, Beth!

    • Beth K. Vogt says:

      Ann,
      Brava!
      Impressive that you saw through all the “This is perfectly wonderful” praise and went looking for helpful feedback.
      I value criticism — and I trust my craft partners (crit partners, whatever you want to call ’em) and my mentors to provide that.
      Maybe I’ll let them read the reviews?
      😉

  52. Beth, Good advice. When I practiced medicine, I saw many colleagues who equated their self-worth with their profession–and when they retired, they’d hang around the doctors’ lounge, attend meetings, and try to maintain that self-worth instead of moving into a new phase of their life.
    As a writer, I’ve gone through the usual ups and downs with contracts, reviews, etc., but have finally decided to go with the late Grady Nutt’s sage advice: I am me, and I am good, ’cause God don’t make no junk.
    And that goes for what I am whether writing, playing golf, or doing the other things that make up what passes for my life.
    Thanks for sharing.

    • Beth K. Vogt says:

      Hi, Richard,
      Thanks for sharing who said the “God don’t make junk” quote. I’m a quote aficionado (hence, my blog In Others’ Words) — and I love knowing the “who” behind the “what was said.”

  53. CG Blake says:

    Sorry about the typos: “writers” and “then”.
    Curses to auto correct!

    • Beth K. Vogt says:

      CG:
      I always ignore typos in comments for exactly the reason you mention — auto-correct.
      🙂
      And it sounds like you’ve unhitched your wagon to the stars — and then you walk back and peruse the feedback to see if there’s any value in it.
      Very wise.

  54. CG Blake says:

    Beth,
    Thanks for this post and congratulations on your book. I do read my reviews closely and thank goodness they have been positive. I think above all else writer’s should focus on the specific criticisms of their work as expressed in reviews and them make a judgment call as to whether they are valid. There is no place for mean spirited reviews and writers must ignore them, though it is easier said than done. Best of luck to you.

  55. Great wisdom, Beth. For me it’s the kind that seems to come with the passing of years. I haven’t had to face major in-print reviews (yet), but even contest feedback can be hard initially–until with time I see the pointers w/o the sting. Thanks for this great post.

    • Beth K. Vogt says:

      Excellent point, Dee.
      It’s important to sift through feedback — weighing the good and the bad — and using it to improve your writing.
      I just want to make certain my sense of worth is well-grounded before I start sifting.

  56. “Beth has discovered that God’s best often waits behind the doors marked Never.” – Love, love, love this! I love (note to self – buy thesaurus) the way you measure success, Beth- absolutely loading Wish You Were Here to my Goodreads TBR shelf!

    Have I ever hitched my writer-worth to anything? Contests are biggie for me – especially those sponsored by agents/publishers on my “follow” aka “legally stalk” list. Betas are another one. Post-feedback I waffle between Sally Fields – “They like me! They really like me” and A Few Good Men – “You can’t handle the truth!” 🙂

    • Beth K. Vogt says:

      Love the way you expressed yourself, Kathryn: Post-feedback I waffle between Sally Fields – “They like me! They really like me” and A Few Good Men – “You can’t handle the truth!”

      I think that’s the struggle most writers experience.

  57. Very good reminders here during a time when platform building is pushed so heavily. Thanks for sharing your thoughts. They were very helpful.

  58. carol brill says:

    HI Beth, congratulations on your novel

    thanks for the reminder – Some people will like my book. Some people won’t

    I just finished a novel by a successful author. One of her prior novels sold like crazy and became a movie. I had tried to read that one and did not enjoy the writing…and felt the same way about the one I just finished. Yet, millions of people bought and loved her books.

    If/when, my novels get published, I hope I can borrow your realistic pov about stars and reviews.

  59. Such wisdom here, Beth.

    Gal. 1:10 and I are old friends. Some of the most freeing times in my life have been when I let go of expectations.

    Can’t wait to read your book!
    ~ Wendy

    • Beth K. Vogt says:

      Wendy: Freedom — exactly.
      That’s what I think authors should aim for.
      Unhitch their wagons from the stars and write in freedom from expectations.
      (Not that I’m not a realist. The expectations creep back …)

  60. Good advice! I was just talking with my husband about this yesterday. I see so many authors beg and plead with readers who have given them a bad review on Amazon to give their book another chance, and I cringe.

    I understand why they feel the need to do this, and I know how hard it is to get a bad review (or rejection) for a book, but you are right when you say that that’s just the nature of the business, and reading — some people will like your book and some not. I met a wonderful author recently named Ellen Meister, author of THE OTHER LIFE, and she said to me that she tells her students to check out the Amazon pages of books written by their absolute favorite author and they’re bound to see negative reviews — and these are authors that they consider rock stars!

    It happens to everyone. You’re right — we need to stop chasing these “stars.” Thanks for posting!

    • Beth K. Vogt says:

      Dina,
      You’re right. One thing I’ve heard over and over again: Don’t take on a negative reviewer. It only makes you (the author) look bad.
      On Amazon (and possibly other online booksellers) you have the ability to report abusive reviews — but that’s different than a bad review. It’s also done behind the scenes — not publicly.

  61. Melissa Tagg says:

    This post totally gets five stars from me.

    Yes, Beth, I’ve been known to hinge my self-worth on the wrong things. Possibly I have a mild (major?) case of first-born syndrome – I like to achieve. And it’s ridiculously easy to slip into the mindset of achievement=worth. Which is pretty much just dumb…and contradictory to my faith.

    My worth comes from Christ. And I think the best thing I can do is repeat that truth as many times as it takes to drill it into my goal-driven brain. Meeting goals, even achieving dreams, will never give me the same stable, long-term fulfillment Christ does.

    • Beth K. Vogt says:

      Um, thank you for the 5 stars …
      moving on.
      You mentioned “stability,” Melissa. That’s what this is all about. Stability. Not letting others’ opinions, others’ expectations take me for a wild ride.

  62. Suzanne says:

    Hi PJ,
    It was ‘Heat in the Outback’ A contemporary Romance with suspenseful elements. The review has been apparently been deleted. lol… 🙂

    • Beth K. Vogt says:

      Didn’t want to interrupt your conversation, Suzanne, PJ, & Evelyn “Lyn,”

      I’d honestly never thought about how a negative review could get someone to buy a book. But y’all are right, controversy can be a good thing and it certainly attracts attention. (Can anyone say “Tebow?” Sorry … don’t get me started. Or maybe I shouldn’t have used that example.)
      🙂

  63. Suzanne says:

    I wouldn’t say overturned. In fact, I think the bad review filled people with curiousity. They wanted to know what all the commotions was about.

    My novel was a best seller for six months or more prior before the bad review, and it kept on receivng top sales for months afterwards.

    I always think that the bad reveiw, that appeared they didn’t even read the novel, helped increase my readership.

    I don’t care what the other half think, as long as I have readers out there who enjoy the journey as much as I enjoy the writing.

    Your release is in May, I’ll keep an eye out for it. 🙂

    All the best,

    Suzanne 🙂

  64. Eight years ago I started writing for a regional magazine and it was my first (modest) glimpse of stardom – and it felt great. But now that I am writing my first novel I am afraid of the American Idol dilemma – you know, when a person comes to audition and the judges say: “Sorry, you aren’t good at singing” but the contestant swears up and down that people have been telling them their whole life that they are good at it. That’s how I feel about my writing – I don’t want to have someone say: “Ohh, sorry, you’re no good – who ever told you that you were?!?!” To which I will reply: “My neighbor, my grandma, the checkout clerk at my local supermarket – everyone!”

    As I blog I am always checking the stats to see how many hits my blog gets and I judge my writing abilities on how many people take time out of their busy day to read it. This is such a small example, but I can see it transferring to a bigger scale should I get “Three yeses – you’re going to Hollywood!” from the judges someday.

    • Beth K. Vogt says:

      Gabrielle,
      Getting in a crit group helped me become a better writer — and one way it did that was by helping me see I needed honest feedback about my WIPs. Receiving only positive feedback (all 5 stars) does an author no good. Sure, it looks nice, but it’s not realistic. And yeah, the potential to hitch yourself to some kind of validation — stars, numbers, stats, followers, comments — is everywhere!

  65. Hi Beth, I have nothing to hitch, but thank you for the post. It’s great to see you have a good attitude going into the rocky ride. I’ll be sure and have my reading group get some copies of your book. We don’t publicly review, but we will milk your book for every insight.

    Remember: Everything we have is a gift and we can joyfully use those gifts without ever ascertaining where we fit on the scale of greatness. Thank you for being diligent with your gift!

  66. Not yet, but come October, I’ll need to decide if I should be reading those reviews or not. I’m the kind of person who generally doesn’t care what people think of me. But it might be a different story with my book. I know not everyone will like it. Heck, I toss half the books I pick up. I just hope people don’t find the need to be mean about it when they write a review. But either way, I won’t pin my worth on what someone thinks of my book. I’m so much more than simply my book.

    • Beth K. Vogt says:

      Congratulations about your book coming out in October! And knowing you’re more than your book will get you past any mean reviews. There just may be some, I’m sorry to say. I’ve seen it happen to other writers … it could happen to me or you.

  67. I think that Beth has a great attitude about not letting what other people think define her. It’s something that a lot of us struggle with, I think, because that feeling we had back in high school of how we just wanted to be accepted continues to affect us even as adults.

    • Beth K. Vogt says:

      Sometimes my “attitude” needs a good talking to — but overall I know where my focus is. Not on me, not on the stars. And I have a great safety net of writing friends who catch me when I trip up.

line
Site by Author Media © Rachelle Gardner.