So I finally get a book out to readers and, as was inevitable, received my first unflattering review.
I'm not going to tell you where it is. You can find it if you're interested. And, even though my sister's eyes widened when I told her and she began to surreptitiously remove items like neckties, razor blades, and bottles of pills from my immediate vicinity, I got over the trauma pretty fast. (Have you seen my rejection file? It's a library unto itself. I am well aware that not every person who picks up my book is going to love it.)
Having said that, I'd like a vote on whether people who write reviews should have to say up front whether they paid for the book or got it free. 'Cause if you feel cheated out of your three dollars, okay, you're fair to warn other buyers. But if you got a book for free, at least say why you felt the need to take time out of your busy day to lay the hate on.
Which is what I said to my sister who immediately launched into a rant about offering free samples at the fudge shop she used to own. Suddenly I was the one tucking away loaded shotguns, fertilizer, and rat poison as she went off about people who think everything should be free and built to their taste and by the way, their opinion is the only right one.
Darling girl hasn't owned the shop for ten years, but apparently those hard years left a mark. Her words took away the remaining sting from my review and then Kristen Lamb's blog hit my inbox, reminding me that negative nellies are everywhere.
Now, I try to find the best in people no matter what. Maybe Kristen's a$$hat was going through a really hard and lonely time in his life, prompting him to strike out at someone whose problems seemed small compared to his own.
Maybe my sister's customers thought she was merely 'the girl' who worked for some big corporate fudge factory and that it was totally okay to feed her extremely narrow profits into their kids like, well, candy.
And, full disclosure, I posted a review not long ago that probably hasn't increased that writer's profits, so I totally had karma coming to me. (But I did pay real money for the information promised within his book, of which there was none. I stand by what I said.)
So this is NOT a defensive 'you said I suck, but you're the one who sucks' response to my reviewer. Say whatever you want. I'm not going to stop writing--I've tried. It doesn't take.
No, this is a reminder for anyone, writer or fudge maker or organ donor (hi Kristen!) that we all face bad reviews from time to time. It doesn't matter if you offer thirty flavours of fudge (including neapolitan.) There is always someone who will squinch up their nose.
This week I got my first squinch as a published author. I'll file it in the folder with my other squinches, like the rejection letter from about twenty years ago where an editor said something along the lines of, "I didn't find the heroine's ownership of a health food store a believable way for anyone to make a living."
Maybe I should rewrite that one with her owning a fudge shop instead? roll eyes (See, that editor took the time to offer me a really good product for free: feedback on my manuscript. What am I doing? Squinching. Twenty years later.)
The truth is, we're all guilty of squinching from time to time. Sometimes it's our turn to take the squinch. These are not stop signs, merely markers to ask if you have enough fuel to make it to the next fill up station. Pullover and take stock if you have to, but persevere.
Unless you're squinching at yourself. I have a distinct memory of my sister coming into my house with a half dozen samples of fudge, lining them up on the kitchen counter and begging me to taste them. "I can't," she said with an expression that was close to retching. "I'm so done with fudge."
At least she still makes a killer mixed nut brittle. No one dares squinch at that.