Wednesday, November 7, 2012

What comes after publication? A note re: the journey ...

When I started this blog back in March, it was with the hopes that I'd: 

A) Make some new writing friends, since I was new to all of this.

B) "Build my brand" - which at the time I didn't fully understand.

C) Share my journey. 

Well, I think I sufficiently succeeded in making new friends, and I am blessed to say I continue to do so. I believe wholeheartedly that writers should connect with other writers, for both friendship and support, as well as guidance. Some of us are new, some of us have been doing the querying thing forever, some of us no longer query. But I think we can all help each other out in one way or another, and for that, an online presence is so important.

I think the jury is still out on the building my brand thing. I mean, I am an author, and I write, and you can tell that by my blog, and the tours I host, the reviews I write, the pointers and tips I sometimes share after learning them the hard way, so ... I guess I've succeeded there. I've tried to remain professional and kind, and hope that I have done so. Having put it that way, I guess my brand is sufficiently built, though like making more friends in the business, this is something that will continue to grow as I continue my journey.

Now, that last one, the one about sharing my journey with all of you? Yeah. That one. I'm not sure I totally have. I mean, sure, when I was querying and entering contests, and even after I first signed with Curiosity Quills, I shared my ups and downs, my wins and my losses. But since then, I've been so focused on my life, and trying to juggle multiple jobs and a writing career, as well as keeping up with my EVER Blog Tour, that I think I've lost sight of the journey, and my promise to share it with you.

So I'd like to take the time to do that now.

The journey of a writer doesn't stop at publication. If anything, I think this part of the journey is building character in a whole new way. And as querying writers know, you'd think after surviving multiple rejections that you'd have just about all the freaking character you could possibly get! But alas, the true test of character comes later.

When you start getting reviews.

Here's a scenario for you:

Imagine having twenty people in a room. They are all hungry. You've been cooking for them for hours - the smells are wafting from the kitchen, making their mouths water, their stomachs grumble, and building anticipation until they feel like they just can't take any more. They want the food you've cooked. They are desperately starving for it. 

You present them with the food. Your presentation is divine, only making them want it more. 

"What is it?" They ask, eyes wide, expectant. 

You give them a few hints, let them know the gist of the meal, but only after tasting it for themselves will they fully understand what lies in store for them. 

They start eating. You wait. patiently. You're wringing your hands and sweating like a pig because you are so terrified they won't like it. 

Then someone cries out, "OH MY GAWD, THIS IS THE BEST THING EVER!" 

And you sigh in relief. They like it. They actually like something you did. Your heart sings, your smile threatens to pull your face in half, and you feel like the world is a better place. People like something you did. 

Then someone halfway down the table says, "Meh. I was expecting something else. This just isn't for me."

And you sag a little in disappointment. But you keep hoping because that first person loved it so much. 

Some person down at the end of the table scoots his chair back, the legs screeching against the tile floor, stands up with his face distorted in anger, and shouts, "What is this!? This is crap! I hate this food! It sucks! YOU suck!"

And then you feel as if you made the biggest mistake ever. And your eyes start to tingle with those stupid tears just waiting to come out. 

Someone else stands up and joins that guy at the end of the table. "You're right," this person says, "I can't even finish this crap! What the eff was she thinking when she made this!?" 

The tears fall. You want to be strong, but you question every good thing you ever thought about your cooking and yourself, and you even question the person who loved it. There must be something wrong with you, and there's obviously something wrong with them. 

The people who hated it have somehow made you forget that person at the head of the table asking for seconds. You can't hear their requests through the negative thoughts flying through your head, or see them trying to get your attention through the wall of tears cascading from your eyes. 

All you can think about is the two guys at the end of the table who hate the meal you prepared. 

That's how reviews feel. I thought I was prepared. I mean, I knew that I couldn't please everyone  I knew a young adult paranormal romance with a girl torn between two guys, who wears her heart on her sleeve and makes every stupid decision she can, might not appeal to everyone. I knew this. I am not an idiot. But I just didn't realize how much of a roller coaster it would be.

But you know what? This roller coaster, this crazy wild ride that I'm on right now? This is all part of my journey. This is making me a better person and a better writer. I was supposed to get exactly how many rejections I got. Maybe if I hadn't, or if I'd given up, maybe I'd never have found Krystal, never found Curiosity Quills. Maybe I wouldn't have signed with them and published my book. I was supposed to feel every bit of hope, every bit of impatience, every single bit of disappointment. It was part of my journey. Part of making me who I am.

And so is this. With every bad review comes room for growth. I can embrace it, or I can let it ruin me. For every person who thinks my main character is shallow and stupid, another person thinks she's strong and real and believable. For everyone who thinks my writing is amateur, someone else thinks its beautiful.

For every person that thinks your food is too cold, another person thinks the temperature is just right.

So take everything you can from the journey. The good stuff is so good - revel in it. Take the time to enjoy each positive moment you have on your journey. But the bad stuff ... oooooh that bad stuff is what really counts. The bad stuff is what will make you a better person, a greater writer, and a tougher fighter.

Take the bad, grow from it, and continue on your journey.

We're writers! It's what we do. No one can take that away from us. NO ONE. Not a literary agent who sends us a form rejection, or a publisher that asks for a revise/resubmit, or even a reviewer that thinks we wrote the worst book ever.

No one.

Now go write. And be awesome. Always be awesome.


  1. People who write harsh reviews should try to publish a book themselves. Only then will they see how much blood, sweat, and tears go into it.

    I'm all for honesty but some people just enjoy being cruel. Haters gotta hate, I guess.

    You are wonderful and inspirational, and no matter what happens, I'll always be your fan. :)

  2. Very nice! I can't even imagine how reading that first negative review must feel, even after a mountain of positive reviews. Thanks for the reminder that you can't please everybody, and some people are just mean to be mean. I think you're awesome! And so is Ever. :D

  3. Bad reviews must hurt, I'm sure. Just keep your chin up and keep writing. They can have whatever opinion they want and it won't hurt you because you know what you've got and so do we:)

  4. Great post! I guess ultimately it's a good thing that readers have differing opinions, otherwise there wouldn't be room for as many different writers. Also loved what you said about writing YA - I feel the same way.

  5. You're learning, and you will continue to learn. Eventually reviews will just be stars, averages, and you'll stop seeing the words. You'll stop focusing on other people's opinion of your words and you'll write new, better words for people to enjoy. You'll build your audience. Those who like you will read you. Those who don't won't.