"Black Dog and Rebel Rose...is the best Urban Fantasy love story I've ever read."
--Two Lips Reviews, 5 STAR Review, Awarded BD&RR the Recommended Read Award and the Reviewer's Choice Award
"...everything in the story felt rushed; and the plot was very predictable..."
--A Reader, 2 STAR Review
As authors, we all get them. Whether it's sooner or later, they manage to bite us in our most tender spots and leave us smarting like nothing else.
If you're me, you instantly feel like curling up in a ball, sucking your thumb, and eating french fries as you lick your wounds. Oh, and never picking up that laptop again...well, at least for a day or so...until, eventually, you get over it.
Writing, like any art, is a subjective business, and is tough as hell. I'm convinced that most could not stomach it. As my one-time tattoo teacher, the brilliantly talented Beth Emmerich, once told me: "There are days when I want to say 'Fuck it, I'm gonna go work at a gas station'." It sounds funny initially, but in the end I catch myself thinking that locking up the laptop and strolling into the local Gas n' Sip ain't such a bad idea.
Our books are like our children, at least in a vague philosophical way. They grow in the womb of the mind, nurtured as tenderly as a babe as it is cradled in its mother's belly. If we are good writers, we prune that sprouting tree with care, making sure it leaves our hands and enters the publishing world as polished as bright chrome. We offer it openly, saying, "Here world...take my offering, this piece of my spirit, and enjoy." And, again, if we are good writers, most of the world will do just that.
Since my most popular book, Black Dog and Rebel Rose, went on sale at 99 cents, sales shot up. As did bad reviews...most of them stating that the story felt "too short/rushed" and that the romance developed unrealistically "too soon" (which is really funny, since in the original final draft I had made the heat between Skrike and Rose come to the surface more slowly, and only changed things after a pro editor advised I "speed up the romance" since that's what readers of the genre "wanted"...go fig). And after my initial heartbreak and questioning as to *why* I ever thought about sitting down to create this story, I began to ponder just how bad a "bad" review really is.
Even a bad review (in my lucky case, only 2 star reviews thus far, though I know that first inevitable 1 Star is just around the corner--I can feel it in my bones, like an old man feeling a rainstorm coming on) is still a review. It mentions your work. A wise writer once said that many readers are leery about books with only 4 and 5 star reviews, since that shows that the writer's work isn't really "out there" all that much and circulating through the general public. Where would I rather be: in the magic 4 and 5 Star safety bubble, or out in the open, my heart and soul exposed a little bit more for the benefit of having it reach a larger audience? Gimme a larger audience any day...even though I will bleed more for it.
I think it's easy to feel like you let the reader down. I always feel that way...I have made it my practice to message certain writers of bad reviews to graciously THANK them for their candid opinion, since it may truly benefit me in the end to show potential readers a broader spectrum and give my work more weight. I also do it because it makes me feel better, and takes some of the crushing weight of second-guessing my work off of my shoulders. And I tell said reviewers that they have given me food for thought...because they have. In the end, they will have helped me become a better writer. I rarely hear back from them...maybe they think I'm a weirdo. But in the end, it did me good, and that's what matters.
There is always the little voice me that gets frustrated and starts to scream, "If you don't like quick reads, look at the goddamn page counts before you buy, people!!!" I think that's natural. I'm human, and that is a pretty human reaction. Will I ever become another Jacqueline Howett? Hell, no. The woman was insane, unprofessional, and quite frankly, a bitch. I understand her hurt at getting a bad review; we all feel that. But to go on such a tirade...it shows a distinct lack of respect for your readers, both current and potential, and does your work (and you) a serious disservice. And repairing such damage will most likely be impossible. But I acknowledge my feelings of frustration...and then I go and have a swig of whiskey (or, in my current pregnant state) a few spoonfuls of double chocolate ice cream, and move on. You cannot guess why someone didn't like some aspect of your work...and it is unfair of you to judge, no matter how thin and raw your skin may feel.
So I thank all of those who took the time to review my work...whether or not you found it worthy in the end. Because, at the very least, it was worthy enough for you to take the time to write about it period, and in the end, that is a gift I am more than happy to accept.