BE STILL MY BEATING HEART!
With every copy I send out to be reviewed, or every reader who’s read ‘Femme’ so far, I’m freaking out. Short of breath, racing heart, shaking hands. It doesn’t last long, but every time I press ‘send’ on an email that sends out ‘Femme’ for a review, I travel through a short, anxious path to the other side. For those who used to watch the TV show Lost, and there was that very short blast of music that was the intro for the show – that would be the soundtrack to my singular emotion.
I can calm myself down (mostly) but there’s still that concern: What if they (the reviewer) hates it? What if they give me a one star review with the singular feedback of ‘This is rubbish’? I love criticism, don’t get me wrong. When my beta-readers found flaws I was ecstatic because 1) they were mostly minor and 2) fixing them made my book better. But criticism from the public? Criticism in the form of a single star and no other explanation?
TWINKLE TWINKLE LITTLE STAR
I honestly don’t believe I’ll attract a one star review, but I have seen them on books where I thought the rating was unjust. One star is a rating reserved for an unedited, unpolished, structurally flawed story, isn’t it? I wouldn’t give one star to something I simply didn’t like. There are tons of stories that don’t interest me or thrill me that are worthy of four or even five stars. As a writer I can recognise the difference between a story well told and something I merely have (or don’t have) preference for. I think I’ll be able to weather a one-star review or rating on ‘Femme’ as long as I have a fair amount of good ratings to offset it (like 10 good ones and 1 bad one maybe? I could survive that!)
THE COURAGE TO PUBLISH
The worst case scenario is that I’ll attract nothing but 1 star ratings from the public which will cause me to never write/publish again. The ratings I can’t control, but the writing I can. Thankfully, because I’ve had short stories published a number of times, I’ve already received the acknowledgement of other people (and DIFFICULT TO PLEASE people) that I’m not wasting my time writing commercially. Even so, publishers are not who I need to please – and that’s never been truer for me at this point. I need to please readers.
So what happens if ‘Femme’ returns with one star reviews and a sound bashing? What happens if it gets throttled and criticised and everyone who touches it hates it?
I’ll very likely take it off my website and the digital shelves. I’ll shed a few tears, shake it off, learn from it and move on. I’ll understand that perhaps a science fantasy entwined with a romantic coming-of-age story set in a utopian slave-world is not what the public wants right now. Maybe nobody will ever want it except me. I have more stories, more ideas. It sounds a ridiculous thing to imagine (to summon your worst fears) but it was the thing that gave me courage to publish; to consider the absolute worst-case scenario and think about what I would do in the face of it.
SO WHAT HAPPENS IF EVERYONE REALLY DOES HATE MY BOOK?
It won’t kill me. It won’t stop me writing. It’ll make me feel like crap for a while. Then I’ll set my sights on a different goal to what I’d initially intended, with different kinds of stories. I’ll review what it is that everyone hated and I won’t make the same mistake again. It will be the end of the Wanderer of Worlds series (because Femme is semi-connected to it) but it won’t be the end of me.