Writing, reviews, and the rocky road of publication.

I wish I was the type of person that could let things just roll off my back. I wish I was care free and easy going, and took each day in stride. But, I’m not.

I am overly dramatic, obsessive, and constantly worrying about every tiny detail. I can create problems for my problems. Seriously, being me is exhausting at times.

So when I decided I wanted to be a writer –for real– my problems began to tangle themselves together into one giant problem: the road to publication.

Oh how many times are you sitting around with friends, family or coworkers and someone sprouts out the words, “I could write a book!” Really? Can you? I would love to see you try.

I have written three complete novels, and have begun about a dozen more. This was not something that I did after a few glasses of wine or a vent fest with my friends. I did it because if I didn’t get these characters and their stories out on paper it would eat away at me. I was losing sleep over the dialogue in my head. I was no longer showering alone, because my characters were handing me the soap and telling me their side of the story. It was hard to concentrate on highway driving because I was mentally present at a birth or a funeral. I wrote the book because I had to, and writing down the words released the beast. Completing a chapter was completely euphoric and I was at my happiest when I had satiated all literary desires.

After years of writing the stories I transitioned into the role of author. I needed to send my books out into the world and see how they stood against “real” authors.

Well, the road to publication is not an easy one at all. In fact it’s dark, cold and very lonely. One thing you need in this business (and I do hate that art is now business) is thick skin. I’m talking dragon scales, chain mail, nothing can penetrate you kinda thick.

Rejection letters hurt. Form rejections suck, and no answer at all is the worst. Waiting in the tunnel of hope for an email that will never come.. shudders.

Then there is what happened to me:

I got an offer! After careful research, I signed! I worked my ass off on edits for months! My book was published!

Three weeks later the publishing house closed. True story.

Now, because it is VERY difficult to sell a book that was previously published, I decided to go indie with this trilogy. Which brings me to my latest anxiety: Reviews.

We all need reviews. They help sell our books, but they can also be the sword that knocks us right out of the competition.

I knew when I chose the devil as my main character that I was walking on thin ice. Some people would love my take, while others might be highly offended. It was a gamble, but I have never written stories because I felt “that is what people would want to buy.” I wrote stories that I wanted to read. I try to take old tales and make them new, make people think, and if at all possible, make them smile.

When my reviews first started to appear, I peeked through my fingers afraid of the results. The results were GOOD. I couldn’t believe how good. So good in fact that when I got a few terrible reviews, I wasn’t prepared for how it would make me feel. Well let me tell you… it hurt. Knife in gut, anxiety driven shaky hands kind of hurt.

That’s the thing about writers, artists, musicians and actors. We put ourselves out there and allow ourselves to be judged. How many professions can say they do that? Do you give a rating to the secretary at your child’s school? To the cashier at the supermarket? To the mailman or crossing guard? We can’t just get up and go to work like everyone else. Our work is displayed, hopefully for your enjoyment, but it also leaves us very vulnerable to criticism and verbal lashings.

What reviewers fail to consider is that a writer does not agonize over their story. They agonize over every word in every sentence of that story.  A book isn’t written overnight, it is written and rewritten.  It is the writer’s literary child. It is something we created out of love.

And that is what writing is. A labor of love, a long tedious journey that has more bumps, twists and turns than you can imagine.

But to hold that book in your hand… that printed copy that began as a thought and blossomed into an adventure…

There are no words for that.

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3 Comments

April 25, 2014 · 7:10 pm

3 responses to “Writing, reviews, and the rocky road of publication.

  1. Oh Kat, you speak for all of us and your blog post made me cry a little. Now I’m frightened to see my reviews! Don’t readers understand that it is our blood, sweat and tears on paper? Massive HUGS to you!!! 🙂

  2. I can only speak for myself, no one else, but as a reviewer, I am terrified as well. I love this industry like nothing else. Books have been the center of my life since I could string words together. I admire authors. I have tried my hand at it a few times, but realized pretty early that I lacked the patience, perhaps even the skill. That is when I found the massive community of online reviewers. I felt like I found my home. Authors are irrevocably my rockstars. Ain’t it always the way, that when you find your niche, you discover the not so fun flip side. You will not like everything you read, and that is a constant anxiety inducer for a reviewer like me. From my friends who are authors to the New York time bestsellers, I have seen what a negative review can do. You are right. These books are your children that you fling out into the world to be judged. I try to be very conscientious in my selection of titles that get sent to me and not accept for accepting’s sake. I think that is a practice by reviewers that sets everyone up for a disappointment. My number one golden rule: If the story’s premise does not appeal to me or move me, I do not accept it for a review. Even following this guideline, I still dread when I read something and it just didn’t resonate with me. In those particular reviews, I try to be as constructive as possible. I am straightforward, self deprecating, and even snarky/ tongue-in-cheek at times, but I have NEVER understood this phenomenon of bashing and bullying authors. I just do not get it. Even if I did not like something, I am one opinion in a sea of people, and it took guts on the author’s part to put something out there. I am not the be all, end all, and I always have this in the forefront of my mind when reviewing.
    Bottom line, for what it is worth, I am a ball of anxiety too. I walk the line of literary review honesty, and I do so with a great sense of responsibility. It scares the hell out of me, due in large part out of the respect I have for the profession.
    We will all just walk this crazy road and learn and grow together.

    P.S. I’m a fan of your book so far Kat. Don’t freak. This isn’t a forewarning of doom. LOL.

    • I am a realist. I know that not everyone will love my work. Even Harry Potter got the occasional one star review. I just would appreciate some constructive criticism. Not, here’s your pathetic star and I won’t tell you why. It almost feels like it’s done out of anger then. Which, as I said before, considering my MC and who he is.. that is quite possible.

      It’s good that you only choose work that interests you. And I am glad that you are honest. No one wants to be lied to. I’ve read NYT bestsellers and not understood what all the buzz was about. So yes, being a reviewer can put you before the lynch mob as well.

      Glad you are enjoying the book so far. 🙂

      P.S. Authors are my rockstars too.

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