Thursday, March 8, 2012

WITH A LITTLE HELP FROM OUR WRITER FRIENDS

by Lois Winston

Recently a very dear friend received a crushing rejection. Several days earlier another close friend received a lousy review. I’ve suffered my share of both. I try not to let them get to me, but if I’m truly being honest? Of course, they sting.

I know some authors who never read their reviews. Me? I’m like a moth drawn to a flame. I click on every link Google Alerts sends me. I can’t get through a day without logging into NovelRank at least once or twice (or three or four or twelve times) to check my Amazon sales.

Death By Killer Mop Doll, the second book in my Anastasia Pollack Crafting Mysteries, came out the beginning of January. Reviews have been dribbling in. At the same time, I’m still receiving reader reviews for Assault With a Deadly Glue Gun, the first book in the series. Midnight Ink did a month-long free Kindle download of the book in January, which is now resulting in lots of reviews being posted on Amazon, Goodreads, and elsewhere.

I’m not na├»ve enough to think everyone will love my books. Why should they? Taste is subjective. I’ve tossed aside books after a chapter or two that other people have raved about, that reviewers have given high praise to, that have made “the lists.” And I’ve loved other books that have received poor reviews and made no lists.

No matter how many people love a book, there are always others who don’t. As a writer I know that there will always be someone ready and willing to rain on my Happy Parade, rejecting my manuscript or proclaiming to the world via Amazon or cyber-review sites, or in the print media that my darling, that precious newborn I labored so hard to produce, is a butt-ugly spawn of the devil. All I can hope is that more people love my books than hate them. Yet no matter how pragmatic I try to be, it doesn’t make the rejection or the bad review any easier to take.

Which brings me back to my two friends because this is what I told them: Not every editor is going to fall in love with your next book, and you’re never going to please every reviewer. It didn’t make either of them feel any better. I didn’t expect it to, but still we say these words to each other because that’s what friends do at times like this. We also first rail about how unfair life is and how so-and-so wouldn’t know a good book if it bit her in the behind. Then we offer a shoulder, a never-ending stream of margaritas, and heaps of chocolate -- not necessarily in that order. We do this for each other because we’ve all been there and will undoubtedly be there again. We, more than anyone else, understand the pain of rejection and scathing reviews.

And that’s something that I’m very thankful for, today and every day. I’m thankful for a community of friends who understands the fragility of an author’s ego. No matter how supportive our spouses, non-writer friends, and relatives might be (for those lucky enough to have supportive spouses, non-writer friends, and relatives), they really don’t and never will ‘get it.’ Only another writer can understand the emotional roller coaster of being a writer.

So I’m declaring today, March 8th as Thankful Thursday, and in doing so, I raise my margarita class and pass the cyber-chocolates to my fellow writers.

Lois Winston writes the critically acclaimed Anastasia Pollack Crafting Mysteries series. The first book, Assault With A Deadly Glue Gun, was a January 2011 release and received starred reviews from both Publishers Weekly and Booklist. Death by Killer Mop Doll was a January release. Visit Lois at http://www.loiswinston.com and Anastasia at the Killer Crafts & Crafty Killers blog, http://anastasiapollack.blogspot.com.

24 comments:

Crystal Jigsaw said...

I've written about something similar on my blog today - I do think a review should be looked at favourably, unless of course it's nasty or rude. Every writer should understand that editors/reviewers won't always appreciate their work, but it is an individual choice.

CJ x

Robin Allen said...

I think anyone who rates or reviews a book should be required to offer their credentials--age, gender, favorite genre, why they picked up the book in the first place. Someone who usually reads historical nonfiction or sexed-up thrillers really has no business reviewing an amateur sleuth mystery and vice versa.

Deborah Sharp said...

Very kind and thoughtful post, Lois. Like you, I always look at my reviews. Funny how 10 people can say something nice, and the negative one is what sticks in your head. Ah, well... there's always something to learn from a well-written, well thought out take on your work. As for the purely nasty? F them... that's ''forget'' them.

Lois Winston said...

Crystal, should we file this under Great Minds Think Alike?

Robin, there are some people who can be very objective in their reviews without being a fan of a particular genre. What bothers me is when someone comes to a genre with pre-conceived notions and an axe to grind. You see this a lot when reporters write about romance and refer to them as "bodice rippers." Dig a little, and you usually find that the reporter has never even bothered to read a romance. I have no problem with people having strong opinions; I just want them based on actual reading experience, not hearsay and stereotypes.

Deborah, I do try to "F"orget them.

Donnell said...

Thankful Thursday to you, too, Lois and to all the authors out there who appreciate what we're going through. Perhaps we need to find a way to lock our computers for several hours of a day so we can't check. ;) Great blog.

Peg Brantley said...

Here's to Thankful Thursday. And Friday.

Beth Groundwater said...

What a lovely post, Lois! Yes, as someone who was rejected by 89 agents before the 90th one signed me on and almost immediately sold my first manuscript, I tell my prepublished writer friends to keep on querying a manuscript at least 100 times before moving on to another one as long as they're getting some positive feedback.

As for reader reviews, by the time you've been rejected by as many agents and editors as I have (my 9 published short stories were rejected an average of 20 times each before they were accepted), you can shrug off lousy reader reviews.

Shannon Baker said...

This is a crazy business, for sure. My supportive guy often wonders aloud why we open ourselves up for such huge rejection. I can't answer him but I, too, am thankful for my writer buddies who "get it." Thanks, Lois.

Lois Winston said...

Donnell, I think some of us suffer from an addiction that compels us to check certain sites more times than we should. I've tried going cold turkey, but it doesn't last long.

Peg, I'm happy to extend Thankful Thursday into Friday.

Beth, you're a testament to perseverance! Good for you for not giving up. And look where you are now because of it.

Shannon, my husband is very supportive, too, but as supportive as he is, he still doesn't really get it the way other writers do.

Caridad Pineiro said...

And I'm eternally grateful for friends like you who pull me back from the brink when things don't go the way that they should. Thank you for being my friend.

Kathleen Ernst said...

Here's to writer friends and Thankful Thursday! Lovely post, Lois.

Rick Bylina said...

I'll clink glasses with you, but mine has diet coke in it. I'd join you with the chocolate, but I gave it up for lent. What an idiot! I should have given up sex...guess why? Anyway, yup, yup, and yup. I click like a crazed squirrel on Amazon, allow myself ten minutes to go ape**** crazy on a bad review, and no one knows the troubles I've seen as a writer other than another writer. "There, there. You can just write another book." Unfocused wisdom if ever there was some.

jbarbieri said...

I'm on the job, so no drinking for me. Instead I offer up a salute. I'm allowed, 8 years in the service. I did my time.

To a Thankful Thursday.

Lois Winston said...

Always, Caridad!

Thanks, Kathleen!

Rick, wish I could drink diet soda. Can't tolerate the after-taste. And my muffin top is proof of that! I could never give up chocolate for Lent. Brussels sprouts, definitely.

Thanks for the salute, Jeff! Raise a virtual glass.

jeff7salter said...

It's been many,many years since my two co-authored non-fiction books were published, but I still remember the excitement of the great reviews ...and the disappointment of the few tepid ones.

Since my 7th novel ms. -- first to be published -- is soon to be released, I suppose I will be on pins and needles again fairly soon.

"Only another writer can understand the emotional roller coaster of being a writer."
Very true. Very true.

Lois Winston said...

Good luck with your upcoming release, Jeff!

Susan Breen said...

I have my husband read the reviews and if they're good I print them out and put them up on my office wall. And if they're bad--I don't know. He doesn't tell me.

jenny milchman said...

Where would any of us be without our writing friends? I'm proud to count you among them, Lois. Rejections are the medicine that ultimately makes us/our writing stronger, though they can also be a capricious bunch of rot :)

Lois Winston said...

That's a great idea, Susan!

Vicki Doudera said...

Nice post, Lois! And a very happy Thankful Thursday.

Lois Winston said...

Thanks, Vicki!

Linda Hull said...

Your comments are so apropos today. Just got a rejection from an editor on a standalone that called my book a very very close near miss. Oh well! On to the next.

Sheila W. Boneham said...

I'm late to the party, but great post, Lois, and wonderful responses. Just knowing that we ALL go through this softens the blows. And I agree with Robin - the only crummy amazon reviews I bother to remember was re. one of my award-winning books about cats, and gist was "I want a cat and before I can have one I have to read this stupid book." One star. Wrecked my "gpa." I figure it was a kid whose mom said s/he had to read the book first. Meow.

Lois Winston said...

Linda, sending you cyber-margaritas, cyber-chocolate, and cyber hugs!

Sheila, I've found those 1 star reviews on Amazon are usually from people with an agenda. Half the time it's obvious they haven't even read the book, based on the comments made.