You’ve probably seen a movie where an actress or playwright is waiting for the newspaper to come out after the opening night of their play. They look on as their manager or better half opens the paper, looks for the review and starts to read. This is followed by either elation or crushing despair.
I hate to be overdramatic, but that describes how it was for me, waiting for the first reviews of my debut novel, Unnatural. I had several reviews pending, and had no idea what they would say. After all, I hadn’t had a completely unbiased, honest assessment of the book by a complete stranger. Sure, my publisher accepted it, but maybe he made a mistake. Happens. My friends weren’t about to tell me it sucked, even if it did. So, I was left to wonder, preparing myself for the worst (although you can never be fully prepared, can you?).
A few days ago, with my novel due to be released in a month, I finally got my first review. Unlike the movies I’d seen, there was no newspaper – only an email notification. It was from Midwest Book Review, a well-known, respected source of reviews. My first thought was “Uh-oh.” Should I click on it right away? Should I think about it first, try to prepare myself for the final reckoning?
I’d probably be sitting there still, with my finger on the upper left button of my mouse, hovering over the email had I not momentarily summoned the courage to make that fateful click. I instantly averted my eyes as the email loaded, then slowly moved my gaze to the first line of the email.
It proved to be anticlimactic – the beginning of the email explained all the ways I could use the review: post online, put on my book cover, use all or excerpts, etc. So far, so good. Then I slowly worked my way down to the dreaded review itself. I had to read it twice to be sure I hadn’t missed anything. By the time I finished, I was feeling pretty stoked. The reviewer liked it! It felt good, having a complete outsider give positive feedback about my novel. You can read the entire review on the “novels” page of this website.
Surprisingly, less than a day later, another review arrived in my inbox. That one was from Indies Today. Having one good review under my belt made me less concerned about the second one. Even if the second review was terrible, I still had Midwest. Nobody could take that away. I clicked on the Indies Today link, which directed me to their website where the review was there for all to see. Again, a good review. They use a star rating system and I got five out of five stars.
My journey ends there, for now. As of this writing, I haven’t received any more reviews. But I’m ready. With two good reviews, I can withstand some bad ones (I think).
Since I gave final approvals for the cover and the text, I’ve been able to relax somewhat, but my work isn’t finished. My publisher took care of things like providing sales information to Amazon and Barnes and Noble, I had to choose excerpts from my book reviews and find out how to get them displayed on the Amazon site. Did you know that information has to be uploaded separately for the eBook and the paperback? Neither did I. Now I have to find out why the information was uploaded correctly for the paperback book, but not for the eBook.
Each day seems to present a new small task, often frustrating.
If you haven’t already, consider pre-ordering my book. If you read an earlier draft, I guarantee the published edition is different – although the general story is unchanged.
Best wishes for the holidays and the new year!