Okay, so my subject line. That's laughable, right? Especially if you know me. Or if you're married to me. In that case you're laughing really hard right now.
My relationship with other people's books has always gone something like this: I become intrigued by a book after stumbling upon the book jacket description somewhere or having the book recommended to me ---> I read a short excerpt to see if I connect with the writing ---> I sometimes check out reviews to see what other people think, and if there are ratings across the board, I'd be more interested than if there are all 5s and 4s; I'm contrary like that ---> I obtain the book in some fashion, be it buying it new or used or borrowing from the library or a friend ---> I read the book.
When the book that I wrote sold and there was suddenly this idea that people out there were going to one day read and review it, I was nervous, but not that nervous. I hoped people would love it. I didn't hope that people would hate it, but I figured that some would and that would be fine, too. I know that a 1-star review can sometimes inspire me to read a book (especially if the reviewer sounds like a tool or likes books that I hate), so maybe a 1-star review could have that effect on someone else. Hooray and yay!
And then it started happening. Reviews, I mean. From the get-go, FREEFALL got bunches of 5-star reviews and a few 4-star reviews. I was happy about it, but I was bracing myself and actually ready for some less-than-stellar feedback from a stranger. And then that happened.
On Friday, October 1st -- two days before my 33rd birthday and four days before the release of That Book I Wrote That One Time -- I happened upon a 3-star review that KICKED ME IN THE FACE. It wasn't even so much that the review was negative. It was that it was just so blah. This person discussed about how the book just wasn't memorable and [a whole bunch of other stuff that I just realized I've blocked from my mind. Thank you, brain defense mechanism!]. I then clicked and saw comments like, "Wow. Thanks for the warning. I was looking forward to this one too. Oh, well."
And I was like, !$#@%^&&^%$#^%&^*!@$^&()*%^$*+=%$#
Because, I mean, WHAT? This book had dozens of good reviews and suddenly these people were just going to give up on it and not even give it a chance because of this ONE review?
ARE YOU SERIOUS?????????????????????????????????????
I won't lie. I kind of . . . shut down. And freaked out. And shut down. And freaked out. I spent the rest of that day eating popcorn and ice cream and watching some of my comfort movies while alternating between having panic attacks and wanting to cry. Then my husband came home from work and we went to the $3 theater in keeping with my do-nothing-but-eat-junk-and-watch-movies-all-day plan.
Afterward, he suggested that we go to Barnes & Noble because their website indicated that Freefall was now in the store. I had another panic attack. I didn't want to go. I didn't want to see my book in a bookstore because I couldn't handle that people were going to dismiss it, because I was afraid that all the positive reviews up to that point were a fluke, and that EVERYONE moving forward was going to say that my book just didn't matter.
But we went. And afterward I posted this picture of me looking as if a-less-than-stellar review had KICKED ME IN THE FACE earlier that day. And now you know why.
Life went on. I got really busy with traveling and book events in October, but when I had time, I still read more reviews when the Google Alerts came in. There were a couple of kind of brutal ones that bothered me enough that I can still quote back lines from them if I really wanted to, but none have affected me as badly as That First One. For the most part, I've stopped having totally flip-out reactions when I think about negative reviews of my book.
It's all weird, right? I never expected to feel so vulnerable and persecuted by some people's opinions. Because as a reader, there are times when I definitely see value in negative reviews. As an author, though, I can tell you that there is not one negative review of my book that has helped me out in any way. I've now learned that lesson about myself. I accept it. I embrace the concept that reviews of an author's book are for readers, not for that author.
But how best to move forward having made that realization? Well, it all boiled down my having to decide whose opinion of my book matters TO ME. Do I care about the criticisms of a big-time paranormal fan who gave Twlight five stars and my book two? Do I care about the dude who complained that there was too much flirting in my book and that it reminded him of something that should be on a CW show? (By the way, CW peeps! Make my dreams come true and call my agent. PLEASE!)
Or do I care more about the woman who once suffered a tragedy similar to what happened in my book and let me know that it gave her comfort and helped her process what happened? Or the teenage boy who thanked me for writing something so real that he could relate to? Or the teenage girl who has already read it multiple times and says it's changed how she thinks about people and made her less judgmental? Or the other writers out there who say that Seth makes them strive harder to find an authentic male voice in their writing? Or the man in his 40s who wrote to me to tell me that he really connected with the love story? Or the dozens of readers who admired Seth, Rosetta, and/or Kendall and really enjoyed spending a few hours of their lives with them?
I can't please every reader. It isn't possible. But I'm pleased to have have the opportunity to please some people. I'm also pleased that some of those pleased people have taken the time to contact me and let me know that my book pleased them.
It truly means everything to me. ♥