I hinted about the review in my last post. And that was an honest portrayal of how I felt at the time, sort of.
That review freaking consumed my thoughts and life for about three days.
For those who aren't struggling writers like me, reviews don't come easy and rarely come free. I had thought about paying for a Kirkus review, but, ultimately decided the fate of my book would live or die with the readers. Kirkus reviews seem to be the most reputable, but their cheapest plan is $425.00 for a seven to nine week turnaround. When I was really debating paying for one, I was confident with my book, but worried about some of the sub-plots. Specifically the sex. There are only two types of people in this world when it comes to books with as much graphic sex. Ones that like or aren't bothered by it, and ones that hate it. That meant I would have been dropping four hundred dollars on the chance my reviewer would be part of the latter group.
So I pretty much talked myself out of it.
When I queried my publisher, I told her that was going to be part of my marketing plan. And then, when it was time to do it, I backed out.
Who knows why I did. That was six months ago and I could have been out of Seagrams Seven, diet Seven-up, Wheat Thins, Frozen Pizza, and Kings Hawaiian rolls, (aka my grocery list) and needed that money to eat. I really don't remember the specific reason or when I decided not to pay for one, but it seemed inconsequential at the time.
I woke up early on Sunday, July 24th, (I work nights so by early I mean 1pm) and noticed an email from my publisher. She said, "Hi: Here is a review of your book." She added the link to Online Book Club who reviewed, Who Is Oliva Green. I was getting up early because I was only working a few hours that night, and was teaching Community Oriented Policing first thing Monday morning.
I was going to work and planned to pretty much prepare my lesson plan but I couldn't concentrate. I read that damn review probably thirty times Sunday night.
I was able to teach the three day class, and thankfully the schedule had the students going out into the community doing projects which gave me plenty of time to ponder the review.
And plan my response.
The reviewer gave me one out of four stars. It started off with a brief description, pretty much copying the back cover, and then went into how much she liked the action sequences. She gave me lots of credit for keeping her on the edge of her seat and how well they were described.
But it went pretty much downhill from there. She didn't like any of the sex, the romance was forced into the book, and all the characters, "just seemed too hungry for sexual intercourse." Then she called Olivia a cliché character, that she was too attractive and smart, and called her too perfect to be realistic. And lastly she really didn't like the ending because it was too abrupt.
She did add that it had the potential to be a good book, but repeated the reasons why she didn't like it, and added it was, "a shame that I was unable to find the book enjoyable."
You can go to http://forums.onlinebookclub.org/viewtopic.php?f=22&t36828 to read the entire review.
Now, over the next few days my mind was all over the place. I would get upset, then resigned, then happy that it was even reviewed, then almost mad and want to challenge the reviewer.
I mean the three hundred words that some lady wrote about my book, some person I've never met, fucking consumed my thoughts, pretty much every hour from Sunday when I initially read it until Wednesday.
Then I decided to comment on her review.
I probably wrote out ten responses in Word that night. I went from short responses, to long drawn out explanations, explaining each critique she had from different view points. I even added comments from readers in quotes in a few of my rebuttals. In another I referenced my seven, COUNT-THEM-WOMAN, seven reviews on Amazon which were all positive. (I knew that pretty much all seven came from friends or family, but I was going to battle in my head)
Then, which is very typical of me, when I'm writing my feelings out instead of trying to think through them, I figure them out.
This woman, her user name is Cliffora, read my book because my publisher sent the Online Book Club a free copy. They either researched the sales or saw the reviews on Amazon, and decided to review it, and gave it to Cliffora. The book is short, only 82,000 words or so, but still, she spent some time reading it. She spent hours reading it.
And she didn't like it.
I've always said that writing is art, and art is subjective.
If my writing is art and she didn't like it, how could I hold that against her? I couldn't and shouldn't. To top it off, she went out of her way to point out the parts she enjoyed.
So I wrote out an eleventh response. This was it:
I really want to thank you for taking the time to review my novel, Who Is Olivia Green. It really is exciting to me that you took the time to really read my story and I'm sorry you didn't like parts of it or the ending. But, I really do appreciate that you took the time to give it an honest review, and that you went out of your way to point out the plot lines you enjoyed. Thanks again, David Heaton
I hit submit and moved on.
Sometimes in life you have to do that, just hit enter and move on. (I think writers will all agree with that)
For the first time in three days I felt good. The weight of the one review I received, albeit a negative one was lifted off me. I felt free. I felt good. I was happy my book got reviewed.
Life was getting back to normal for me when I sent in that comment. My daughter was spending a week at the beach with her mom that week so I had a few days to do nothing but write. And that's what I did. I hit submit and got back to doing what I loved, writing. I think between Wednesday and Friday night I wrote almost twenty thousand words in my latest project. I was getting my mojo back.
Saturday night I went to clear emails and saw I had one from the Online Book club. I opened it and found out that authors aren't allowed to comment on their own reviews, and mine hadn't been posted.
I couldn't even tell the girl who gave me one out of four stars, thanks.
I started to get all upset and was about to write an email to the Online Book Club administrators. Then I thought about the last week and decided to let it go.
Just in case, Cliffora, I appreciate you taking the time to review my book. I really do. It means a lot. Thank you.
Life sure can be ironic.
(postscript) If someone wants to post the link to this post under her review its a pretty easy process. I can't because they know I'm the author, but just a thought.