Writing Wednesdays: What if nobody reads your book when you share it online?

May 10, 2017
Does your fear that nobody will read your book if you post it online stop you from sharing your work? I share some advice on why this isn't something to worry about.

You might have noticed a bit of a theme in recent Writing Wednesday posts… it’s all about publishing online. So naturally, that meant a post dealing with the biggest fear that goes with posting your novel online: what if nobody reads it?

Granted, it may not be quite your biggest fear. That honour might go to ‘but what if people leave horrible reviews and hate my work?’. If that’s worrying you, I suggest checking out this post on howto deal with criticism of your novel – and if you’re still worried after that, drop a comment or Tweet me @Reekles, and I’ll do a Writing Wednesdays about that.

Anyway. Let’s get back on topic: people not reading your book.

I’m going to kick off the advice part of this post with two very, very blunt words.

So what?

Right now, I’m going to assume nobody is reading your book because you haven’t shared it anywhere. So if you now go away and post it online somewhere and nobody reads it… you haven’t lost anything. Sure, you haven’t gained anything, maybe, but there’s no harm done.

If nobody reads your book, that doesn’t mean people don’t like it. Sure, of course, someone might read your story description and think ‘Nope, this isn’t what I’m looking for right now’ and not click your story. But they can’t judge it as a bad book simply based on those couple of lines you’ve used to hook potential readers.

No reads does not equal bad reviews. Remember that. It’s important. There’s a big difference, and it matters.

The next thing I wanted to talk about is what do you mean by ‘nobody’?

Might sound like a stupid point, but bear with me. Are we literally talking zero here, or do you mean ‘nobody’ in a broader sense – maybe 50 reads is ‘nothing’, because it’s not what you were expecting, or it’s not what you’re measuring yourself against.

Again: if you literally get zero reads, that means people didn’t read it. It doesn’t mean your book was badly written, your plot massively flawed, your characters flat and grating. It just means nobody clicked on it.

Sometimes you won’t get a lot of reads on your book simply because people didn’t find it. Your book might be one of the best in your genre, and yet it falls under the radar, and people just don’t come across it. I’ve read some incredible books that have five loyal readers, and then looked at some books online that are badly written (making them difficult to read) and yet… they’re massively popular. So your number of reads isn’t always a comment on your writing ability.

You might also want to look at why you’re not getting any readers. 

Did you use a cover, or a story description? Have you added tags? These are all things that will draw people in to actually read your story. You might like to check out some of the following Writing Wednesday posts for more help on these things:

Here are a few closing points I want you to remember:

Your story is not the same as someone else’s, so you can’t measure yourself against them. Measure yourself against yourself. Maybe you started out with three readers, but now you have fifty readers six months later. That’s awesome! Look how far you’ve come! But if you then try to measure that against someone who’s posted several books, has been active for years, and has twenty thousand readers… It’s just not going to work.

Everyone starts small. I refreshed my very first chapters online obsessively, waiting to see if there was just one new reader recently. It got to a point where I then only checked for every half a million new reads. But I didn’t start out like that, and neither did anybody else. And on that note…

Reassess your goals. Don’t expect to get 1,000 reads in your first week. It might happen, but it probably won’t. Aim for ten readers. Then fifty, then a hundred, then five hundred. Build up. Persevere. You’ll get there, but remember that it will be bit by bit, and not all at once.

Have you published a book online? I’d love to hear your thoughts on this topic – were you worried about getting readers? Maybe it’s something you still worry about? Let me know in the comment section below!

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