I Know It’s Coming, But How Will I Fare?

I’ve read and heard that to be an author you have to have thick skin. Well, I call BS on that. How in the heck is that even possible when you pour so much of yourself into writing? Writing is difficult, and wonderfully-fun and fulfilling, and exposing and nerve-wracking. I know I can only speak for myself, but I find it very hard to believe that I’m the only author out there who labors for years on a book, who struggles to find confidence that others will see the value in my work, who constantly struggles with self-doubt.

When I write, my characters are alive to me. They are in my head constantly, sparring with each other, working their way toward an epic HEA, and they demand that I take time from my husband and kids, time from the comfort of my own bed well into the night (even though I’ve got a nine-hour work day ahead of me). They demand that I steal every possible second away in order to write their story.

Then, come the reviews.

So far, so good, I’d say, but I know it’s gotta be coming. And that is, the bad review, the scathing appraisal of my years of work, sacrifice, and agonizing over details and editing. It’s got to come because not everyone’s tastes are the same. Someone’s gotta dislike my book(s). And when that bad review comes, I wonder how it will affect me. I get the idea behind the whole “thick skin” comment, but it is far easier said than done. I care about my stories, and I want people to LOVE them. If someone says they didn’t, I’m afraid that I will feel like I failed. Intellectually, I know that’s crap. In business, and in life, I have learned that you absolutely cannot please everyone. Why can’t I let that sink in with my writing?

Now, constructive criticism I can handle. When I entered Love of a Lioness into the Amazon contest and made it to the quarter-finals I considered it a huge win, even though I didn’t move on to the semi-finals. But then I received my review from Publishers Weekly and I got upset. The reason I got upset was because it was a good review! According to the contest rules, it was the PW editors who determined which books moved onto the semi-finals. When my book didn’t move on, I was upset, sure, but I was anxious for that PW review to find out what I could improve on, to find out what went wrong to boot me out of the contest. So, to find a good review was unacceptable to me. I wanted to know why and that review didn’t tell me. If it was that good, why didn’t it move on? Well, the only other logical conclusion would be that it just wasn’t as good as the other stories, or not good enough. To feel like everything you did was good, but not good enough is…nauseating. I’m more of a tell-me-how-to-make-it-better gal. So, helpful criticim I can handle, but for someone to just not “like” my story – that will be hard for me. I just know it.

If there are any authors out there who can give some tips on how to bounce back from a bad review, I’d love to hear it…because I know it’s coming.

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9 Comments

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9 responses to “I Know It’s Coming, But How Will I Fare?

  1. It’s how the publishing process itself works. Perhaps your book wasn’t as good as the rest, or perhaps they, assuming if your book has moved on to the finals that it was bought by a house, couldn’t figure out how to market it. I’m making assumptions of course, but you first assumption could be correct.

    It’s tough nowadays to get your book published by a traditional publisher because your book has to stand out to ridiculous extremes, while also following some sort of trend that they can market and have confidence that will sell. When I go into the YA section, a lot of the books on display are often from bestsellers, while the midlisters are just short of shoved into the shelves, spine facing instead of front facing.

    For example, a rejection to the book doesn’t mean it was bad. It could have well been bad, but I know one author who wrote Edge of the Falls, and she received myriads of rejections for this, many praising that they enjoyed the book. But they never explained why it was rejected. She eventually got tired of this and self-published it because she knew she had a story worth telling. Many of them most likely rejected it because they didn’t know how they could pitch it to publishers and have it marketed from there–or how they could whip the book into better shape. JK Rowling’s Harry Potter book was rejected by one agent who did love it, but he didn’t feel like he could make HP THE HP that we have today. Not all agents and editors are able to make every single book awesome, so they work with the ones they have confidence in.

    • Thanks for your feedback, Amber. Yeah, I wondered how much marketability comes into play with the acceptance/rejection of books. That is why I decided to just self-publish and see what happens. I am definitely learning a lot as I go. In my day job, I am a businesswoman, so I get bottom lines. And I’m fine self-publishing if I believe in my work, which I do. I’m not necessarily a trend-follower or a trend-setter. I just write the stories that I like. I guess it never occurred to me that a good story would be turned down because an agent couldn’t figure out how to market it, but it makes sense.

      • Small presses are also an option, as they can devote more time to your manuscript insofar as figuring out how to market it. It’s what I love about my current publisher. I’m sent weekly updates about what they’re going to do to publicize my book–and, of course, I help a lot to double the efforts. Although, I do need to get doing the publicity my PR person suggests that I do.

      • To be honest, I haven’t sent any of my manuscripts to any publishers. I just entered the Amazon contest and then self-published. I started researching all of the efforts of querying and then saw how many publishers don’t even accept unsolicited manuscripts. Then, I looked into querying literary agents and that seems like even more of a process than querying publishers! I did look at only the big ones, though and not many small presses. Any that you recommend?

      • Mine is pretty good, if you’re willing to put in a little bit of cash (this keeps them from failing, as many small presses launch and discover they are unable to pay their editors and artists, so they crash). But they’ll find you affordable options, and they take on the bulk of marketing, something not even large presses do for their first time authors. My publisher is pretty much for people who planned to self-publish in the first place, but then realized just how much it was going to cost. Of course, they don’t accept everyone. Spencer Hill Press is good, too. As well as Month9Books. I think Entangled Publishing is a good place as well.

      • Thanks a bunch. I’ll look into those presses!

      • Also, looking to check out your book as well. It sounds interesting!

      • Thank you so much! It will be released on Dec. 12th in e-book on both Kindle, Kobo, and Nook, in case you need to save your money.

      • Look forward to reading it!

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