Friday, June 21, 2019

Friday Fricassee

One thing I started training myself to do years ago is not to take negative reviews to heart. Because EVERY AUTHOR OUT THERE IS GETTING NEGATIVE REVIEWS. 

I mean, I checked. One of my favorite authors, for instance, is Mary E. Pearson. How could ANYONE write a 1- or 2-star review for Dance of Thieves? And yet, they did. And they'll do it again for her next book.

Mind you, some of the low-star reviews are just...nasty. And it's easy to discount them, because they're...nasty. Or else they're ridiculous. Like, "This book is about dinosaurs and I really hate dinosaurs." (I made that up. But you know it happens.)

So I'm pretty sure it's a good idea to not read low-star reviews for our own books--not because they're not a normal part of author life, but because we really don't need to see all the reasons why someone hated our book--or didn't finish it. Literature is subjective, like all art. There will always be folks who would rather eat a live squid than read the book we just handed them.

Professional reviews, on the other hand, are a little harder to steer clear from. I've been nervous for weeks, knowing that Kirkus had my book and would eventually post their much-dreaded review. (Kirkus is not known for its kindness, to say the least.) I was relieved beyond measure when I finally read it the other day--and discovered that they didn't hate STORMRISE at all.

Mind you, it's easy enough to pick up on the mild digs if you read the whole review on their web site. But the above quote encapsulates the overall positive tenet, and I'm delighted--and so thankful.

If you follow me on Goodreads (PLEASE ADD STORMRISE TO YOUR TO-READ LIST!), you may notice that I haven't reviewed a single book. That's because the writing community is a small world. Over the years, I have interfaced with, worked with, and forged relationships with countless authors. Some of them write stuff I love, some write stuff I haven't read, and some write stuff I'd probably only give 2 stars to. (Disclaimer: that's almost never true.) I'd rather support ALL THE WRITERS by leaving my opinions largely to myself.

(My silence doesn't mean I didn't enjoy a book, either. It only means that I'm sticking to my own rule of not publicly commenting on most books I've read.)

If I do gush about a book, it's almost always something written by an author I don't have a personal relationship with. (Or at least didn't have at the time I read the book.)  I'll occasionally do a public swoon over a book that particularly grabbed me (like Holly Bodger's 5 to 1, which I admittedly gushed over on this very blog), but overall I choose to remain respectfully silent.

(Most of the time it's a companionable silence. I really do enjoy almost all the books I read!)

All that to say--the words people say about our books matter, but not that much. Of course we want people to fall in love with our characters and stay up reading late into the night. We want to please others with our creative offering, and refusing to admit that isn't doing us any favors. But in the end, we mustn't be fueled by those words of praise, because that will give the words of criticism far too much power to disable us.

Write. Work hard and keep your eye on whatever your personal writing goal is, but don't use the words of others as a litmus test.  If you can get to the point at which you learn that someone hated your book so much that they threw it away, and you merely shrug and say, "Bummer. Guess my book's not for everyone," then you're in a fabulous place. Stay right where you are!

Of course, I'd be remiss not to share the most fabulous blurb I could've dreamed of, a portion of which is on the cover of STORMRISE:

“A bold girl, a kingdom under attack, magic everywhere―I devoured it in one sitting! This book is one wild ride!” ―Tamora Pierce

That Ms. Pierce would take the time to read and blurb a debut novelist's work says more about her than it does about me. I literally fell to my knees after my editor sent me the blurb (I didn't know she'd sent STORMRISE to Tamora Pierce), felled by shock and thankfulness.

Is this amazing, humbling blurb the main source of my affirmation? No. For as wondrous and kind-hearted as it is, it's just one person's opinion of my novel. A positive opinion, couched in superlative terms (Tamora Pierce read my story in one sitting!), to be sure. But in the end, just one more opinion.

The flip side is that, had she hated my book, I wouldn't have heard a word from her. (I wouldn't even have known she'd read it.)

Words have so much power (which is why stories move us). I'd like to continue to use mine to the best of my ability, and I invite you to do the same.

I'm thankful, too, for the beautiful book photos that are starting to show up on social media (shout out to Dorothy Dreyer for the above!). I stare at each one as though I've never seen the cover of STORMRISE before, marveling at how the photographer took the time to arrange everything just so to create a piece of art.

(Disclaimer: I'm not very good at this myself, though I do try.)

I could spend many hours thanking every person who has blessed me along the way. Sometimes I feel like I'm in a perpetual state of overwhelming thankfulness. (Except when I have to cook dinner. Then I turn instantly grumpy.)

A final thank you to all who have preordered STORMRISE, and a reminder to save your receipts for an upcoming preorder giveaway.

Places to preorder: 

Thanks, everyone, for being part of my world! A quick reminder that submissions will open at noon EDT for our PITCH FOR THE WIN contest (details HERE).

Have a glorious weekend!

No comments:

Post a Comment