It seems like my whole life I’ve been writing stuff hoping somebody would pay attention. That’s what we writers do, no matter what we say we’re doing. We write because we have words inside us that need to get out (writing is kind of like belching), but we publish because we want people to pay attention, to give us feedback, to read those all-important words that are, after all, a part of us.
This is why I don’t want to review. Reviews can hurt. As an editor, I read a lot of stuff that just made me want to fall down on the ground and cry, “Why? Why do you think you can string two words together in a coherent fashion? Seriously?” I never did that. I sent rejections that were as kind as possible. If all else failed, I fell back on form rejections, even though I hated to. I never enjoyed the selection process, and I often felt that it sucked a little of my own writing verve away from me with each rejection I sent.
I’ve gotten as far away from that as possible. I limit my editing to proofreading and editing after selections are made. That’s usually fun and writing life affirming. In helping other writers fine-tune their work, I often learn a little something that helps me along the writing path.
What does all this have to do with awesome news that makes me nervous? Well, although I don’t review, I have tremendous respect for those who do stick their necks out there. Some in particular. I recently approached a few of my favorite reviewers to ask for a favor: review my newest book. The very first of the reviewers I approached was Sarah of Smart Bitches, Trashy Books. I have read a number of the reviews on this site, and let me tell you, these chicks are not easy to please. I figured if I could get even a C grade on this website, it would be worth bragging about. Hell, if I could just get reviewed it would be neat.
Well, I’m not reviewed yet, but today my editor tweeted me with this link: 3 Must-Read Summer Romances, written by none other than Sarah and listing my book on her “Can’t Wait to Read list”. Sarah says in the article, “While usually nebby townspeople bug me, I’m so curious about this book because of the newcomer vs. longtime resident dynamic, and the way in which the characters struggle with the way other people see them.”
I’m fighting the self-doubt. Are my townspeople intriguing enough and did I address the issues Sarah mentions in a cogent enough way for her to love my story?
The truth is, I know there is no way to answer that. I mentioned earlier that I got one two-star review on Goodreads. That bothered me for about ten seconds, and then I realized, I can’t help the way somebody else reads my book. I can’t help the way it makes them feel, and anyway, aren’t I supposed to have thicker skin than this by now?
To be honest, I don’t know how I’ll feel if a reviewer I really respect comes out and says they don’t like my book. It probably won’t be easy. Which is why I don’t review (and why my Goodreads page is a wasteland). And why I respect the people who do. If it’s tough for me as a writer to get a bad review, I think it’s probably ten times harder for a reviewer to give one. I’m certain the really good reviewers out there put a lot of thought into their reviews, and I respect that.
All I can say right now is, it’s gratifying to be listed as a “must read” by such a reviewer, and I’ll keep you posted if Sarah does review WHERE THE HEART LIES.