I’m a day late, I realize but I didn’t post yesterday for two reasons: first, it was my birthday and I decided to take the night off and second, I received news I wasn’t quite sure I was ready to share at the risk of saying something I’d later regret.
From the beginning when I started this Blog, I said I would share my writing journey with you, good or bad, and now that I’ve had a day to really digest the news, I’m ready to share it with you so I can move on. While I did enjoy my birthday, my day fizzled a bit after I also received the much anticipated news on the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award contest. It was what I expected in one sense but also a surprise in another.
But not in a good way.
As everyone knows, I made it as a quarter-finalist in the contest, which really is a big deal. Moving on as one of the semi-finalists would have been awesome, to say the least, but I knew the odds were against me when the numbers were being cut from 100 to only 5 in each category. One can certainly be hopeful but you also have to be realistic.
The prize I was really shooting for was the consolation prize each quarter-finalist would receive, whether they moved on as a semi-finalist or not. That prize was a review by Publisher’s Weekly. As a new author, gaining that sort of review as an indie author is a hot commodity. As it turns out, I was wearing rose-colored glasses with no real idea of the potential for creative growing pains should the review not be what I was hoping. Not that I expected a completely glowing review; if that were the case I’d expect to be one of the top 5 remaining in my genre. But I did expect a review somewhat consistent with the combination of positive feedback and constructive criticism I received with the first tworeviews at the beginning of the contest.
Unfortunately, that was not the case.
After reading my review, I’ll admit I was very disheartened and somewhat dumbstruck. I don’t expect everyone to like my book, my writing or my characters but when it comes to a professional review, especially in light of a first novel, I would certainly expect a critique that can help me learn from the process rather than leave me crushed with hurt feelings. And that’s exactly how I felt. I wasn’t quite sure the reviewer even read the whole book, based on some of the comments, and I very much doubt the reviewer even likes the genre my book represents.
But then, that’s my opinion. And that’s my point; this is a very subjective world, the world of books and writing. But it takes a very tough skin and stubborn attitude to remember that fact.
I’ll admit I was troubled by the review and even spent some wasted time as I doubted myself and my book. That is NOT what an author should ever do. Instead, we have to remember there are critics out there who only wish to cut rather than cure, hinder rather than help and create adversity rather than provide opportunity.
Here’s a quote I found from the author of one of my favorite books, The Lord of the Rings:
“Some who have read the book, or at any rate have reviewed it, have found it boring, absurd, or contemptible, and I have no cause to complain, since I have similar opinions of their works, or of the kinds of writing that they evidently prefer.”
Not everyone loves the story involving all the characters in Tolkien’s fantasy world of Middle-earth. Not everyone has to. What matters is that Tolkien wrote the story anyway so that he could share his fantasy world with those who would enjoy it. And I’m certainly glad he did.
While the art of writing, as well as the author, can and will get better with age, it is from experience, knowledge, research and constructive criticism that we learn and grow from. Negative reviews which are provided in such a way as to destructively criticize or provide absolutely no worth whatsoever are not worth crying over. I will say I was disappointed with the review and while this is one review I thought would really help me with marketing, I guess I learned very quickly that I cannot put all my eggs in one basket. Instead, I had to remember all the positive feedback I’ve received so far and also the great reviews I’ve already received on Amazon, as well as the positive reviews and constructive feedback I received from the Expert Reviewers from the contest. It’s been over six months since I first published No Mother of Mine and this was my first negative review. Should I really discount what so many others have said just because I received a negative review from the love child of Cruella DeVille and Simon Cowell?
It took me awhile to chew on the notion but after I simmered for a bit, I finally realized the answer to that question is a definite and very firm ‘NO.’