Friday, June 19, 2009

Vocab and Reviews

Today’s blog has a two-fold purpose: to work on your vocabulary and discuss reviews.

First up: your vocab words for the day . . . .

insipid, pandering, insulting, vapidity, superficiality, infuriating. . . .

I could ask you to look these words up, but that would be boring, and the truth is I’m not interested in improving your SAT scores. You’d get a much better idea of what each of these words means if you simply look up the latest review of One Wish in the Sacramento Book Review and posted on Amazon.

Before you read any further: I’m okay. I’m laughing. I’m smiling. Really, I am. :)

Why? Because this comes with the territory. I knew when I wrote One Wish that if it was published I would have to go through rounds and rounds of edits. I knew that one day I would proofread galleys. I knew that I would see Advanced Reader’s Copies, and that soon the day would arrive when I could hold a real, live hardcover copy in my hands.

I also knew that there would be reviews: Good ones . . . and Bad ones. So far I’ve been fortunate: I’ve gotten great blurbs from Alyson Noel, Mary Beth Miller, and Amanda Ashby, and both the School Library Journal and Publisher’s Weekly had nice things to say.

So let’s pretend I’m actually good at math. In a writer’s world (and we writers are notorious for being pathetic with numbers) reviews look like this:

Bad Review = Good Review5 (to the fifth power)

If I wouldn’t have failed Algebra I the first time around and had to repeat it, or cheated my way through Algebra II before happily passing College Algebra with a D, this might mean something like this:

One Bad Review is the equivalent of Five Good Reviews. This means that it takes Five Good Reviews to equal One Bad Review; that One Bad Review carries as much weight as Five Good Reviews.

Do you see how terrible at math I am? It shouldn’t be this way at all. A review is a review, and one Bad Review shouldn’t detract from the Good Reviews: it’s a review.

Still, it’s just another one of those things that we’re fairly neurotic about (along with Google Alerts, vanity searches, Amazon Rankings, and which retailers “bought in”).

We seek this kind of information out, and then we berate ourselves when we find what we’re looking for. This, I have come to realize, is part of the process.

Unfortunately, bad reviews are part of this journey, and that’s okay. Am I glad that this particular reviewer thought One Wish was insulting and infuriating? Not really. But the beautiful thing about writing is that it’s subjective: what one person loves, another may hate; what one person relates to, another may not.

The fact is that every book isn’t for every person. And what fun is a world where everyone’s opinions are the same? That would be boring. In no way are we required to love everything we hear or read or see. It’s what makes us individuals.

What I’m trying to say is: don’t worry. I’ve read the review, and while at first I wracked my brain trying to remember if I’d done something absolutely horrible to the reviewer in a former life, I realized that it’s just one opinion. The book wasn’t for her; it’s not the end of the world.

And now I can scratch another thing off the list of this amazing journey that is being an author: I got my first scathing review. Yes, it stung a bit, but it doesn’t take away from the good reviews, or from those who read One Wish and liked it.

It’s been said that, when faced with a bad review, an author must seek out the positive and forget the rest. In this case, the reviewer thinks I’m a decent writer. Because of this, there is always the possibility that, while One Wish wasn’t for her, my next novel may be just what she’s looking for. (Fingers Crossed!)

Happy Friday!

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