A friend has a new book coming out soon and is dealing with being reviewed for the first time. She’s swinging from high to low and back again and trying to make sense of the contradictory takes on her words. Been there! So here’s my advice (which I wish I’d taken myself): ignore it.
I’ve had people tell me (repeatedly) that the MorM books are way too short, way too long, overwritten, underwritten, pretentious, condescending, annoyingly confusing, deliciously ambigious, beautifully written, badly written. That the Australian slang is confusing and distracting, that the slang is the best thing about the books. That Magic Lessons is crap compared to Magic or Madness, that Magic Lessons is heaps better than MorM. That the Reason/Jay-Tee/Tom bits are boring/the best part of the books. That Reason Cansino is way too sophisticated/too young for a fifteen year old.
What’s a gal sposed to do in the face of all of that?
Me, I’m slowly learning to only pay attention to the stuff that touches on what I was already concerned about. For example, the complaints from readers who bought Magic or Madness not knowing it was the first book of a trilogy and were then pissed when it didn’t resolve satisfactorily for them. Been there and experienced that.
Yup, the signal that MorM was first of a trilogy was very discretely hidden on the hardcover. It bugged the hell out of me. I wanted a big ole number one on the spine and “first book of the Magic or Madness Trilogy” emblazoned on the front cover. I was overruled by my publishers. Apparently when the first book of a trilogy by an unknown comes out with its triloginess prominently proclaimed it doesn’t sell as well as if you hide it. Selling stuff, apparently, is all about tricking people.
I’m determined that if I ever write another trilogy—which I’ve taken a vow not to do (hey, Libba, let’s keep the faith)—it will clearly be marked as such. But, who knows, I’ll probably get overruled by my publishers again. Sigh.
The writer can only control (most of the time) the words between the covers. We rarely control the way the book looks, how it’s marketed (or not), and we have absolutely no control over what people think of it.
Scott gets fan mail all the time saying how wonderful X book is, but that they hated the bit where their favourite character had something bad happen to them. Could he write another book where bad stuff doesn’t happen?
Um, yes, he could, but reading it would bore you into a coma.
Praise is nice, criticism can be helpful, but sometimes the best thing you can do is stop your ears and keep on writing.
Someone hand me the ear plugs!