Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Wow, us authors sure are a mixed bag of weirdos

First of all, if you’re an author and you’re reading this, I’m sorry if I just offended you by calling you, me and JK Rowling weirdos in this blog title. But come on. You gotta admit it’s probably true — right? I mean, some of us love being in the spotlight. Some of us hate it. Some of us take offense at reviews. Some of us don't.

I had this epiphany today at lunch when I was talking about my book with my good friend and co-worker — I’ll call her Candy to protect her identity.

“I got two more reviews,” I told her happily. “I got a 3 out of 5 on one and a 4.5 out of 5 on the other.”

“That’s pretty good,” she said.

“Yeah, well, the 3 out of 5 reviewer said she liked the first two-thirds of the book, but then it went downhill from there. It’s weird because a lot of people have said the opposite. I’m just confused.” I sighed.

Candy — God bless her — gave me a mini pep talk that led to a discussion about a friend of ours who also writes books — I’ll refer to him as Bob to protect his identity. He’d had a awesome fantasy series published a few years ago with a publisher that has since gone out of business, and when he was laid off a few months ago, he self-published his next novel. Now, I know Candy loved his fantasy series and she really liked his new story too, but she had some issues with his newest book. Mainly some gratuitous sex. She said she told him the truth about that -- that the book would have been better without the explicit sex.

Well, he asked Candy to go on Amazon and give him a review to try and boost his sales.

Gasp! This idea horrified me! I would never ask someone I know to give me a review. In fact, it's hard for me not to ask people I know NOT to read my book because it creeps me out, imagining them inside my head that way. Strangers, okay, but people I know?! I could not ask them to review my book. Never! Well, okay, so maybe if a psycho killer were holding a knife to my cat’s throat and ordered me to do it then yes, yes, I would. But I would also really hope I don't know any psycho killers who would do that to me. Anyway.

“Well, did you give him a review?” I asked.

“Of course,” she said. It turns out he'd asked some other friends to give him reviews too.

Wha?!

As I was listening to this, I didn’t grab my chest and gasp for breath in horror — but I wanted to. But I am weird like that. I mean, the mere idea of asking a friend to review my book...uh uh. Can't do it. Call me Queen Weirdo. I don't care.

I can’t really judge Bob for what he did though. Books are a tough business. Yeah, I said it. BUSINESS. Naturally, we’d all love to write for the fun of it, but the reality is, we all have bills to pay, which means we have editors and publishers to impress, along with multitudes of readers to tempt into buying our books.

And reviews are a funny thing too. I actually appreciate the comments that come along with them because they’re helping me to figure out where my weaknesses are. I'm not sure I would trust anyone who knows me to be honest though. A certain book — you know, the one I’m working on now — has changed a little since I started it because I realize now I have a tendency to do certain things that shall remain between me and my computer’s DELETE button. Ehhh-hmmm.

So, please, if you read my book and are kind enough to give me a review, be honest. I might cry a little at first. I might even pound my head against the wall if it’s really negative, but I have a thick head so it’s okay.

And I’d probably hug you if I could, just knowing you read my book. I won’t, cause that would be silly, but still. You read my book, so thank you.And thank you, hopefully, for helping me to become a better writer.

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