Over the weekend I’ve been poking around on Amazon. A few other author friends were talking about all of these things I should be doing to promote my work on there and so I decided to at least have a look. I feel a little weird about some of the system gaming that takes place there, but then, just making sure the tags applied to your story are accurate so people can actually find your work if they’re looking for it didn’t sound to shifty.
Anyway, there was a review on my first published novel The Night Caller. I sort of stopped talking about that book after a brutal review that made it sound like I wrote the book to irritate her personally.
It didn’t help I sent the wrong edition of the digital book, of course, but for the most part, she didn’t say anything I could necessarily argue with. It was a simple mystery. If you didn’t like the characters, the story would suck. I liked the characters, because, well, I like broken people. But, critics are looking for different things than writers and maybe even readers.
I settled it out in my head that maybe she was right and the story just failed on the romantic level, licked my wounds and moved on with my life, playing down the first novel (that I had been excited about, but I decided to accept wasn’t as great as I thought it was.)
So I was on Amazon, checking tags and saw that there was a review on Amazon. I didn’t look at it for a few hours because last time I was on Goodreads there had been a review on there and I’d gone there innocently enough to find that the original reviewer spewed a less spell-checked version of the same review on Goodreads. So, I was hesitant that this was some sort of trick.
But, it was marked five stars and I couldn’t imagine this lady doing that, so I pressed on thinking maybe a well-meaning friend said something nice.
It wasn’t. It was someone I totally didn’t know. They acknowledged the mystery part was less than mysterious, but they liked the characters and liked the relationship. I never thought of myself as someone who looks for a lot of external approval, because as an artist, that’s the quickest road to self-destruction. Art, writing, life itself, is so completely subjective that you have to have a thick skin and a good anchor to keep from being crushed.
But you know, the fact that someone got it, someone who wasn’t someone I know, took such a weight off my shoulders. It doesn’t take away someone being a cuntmonster, but it puts it in perspective. I guess in the absence of feedback, I took bitchiness as truth, which I, the ultimate cuntmonster, should know better.
Anyway, I made a lot of mistakes with that book. Probably all of them you can make as a newb. But I’ve learned a lot of valuable lessons, too. So I’m going to stop shrinking from it and own it. It’s my book. I wrote it. It’s not perfect. I’m getting better.