will feature bloggers and authors explaining on Blogs, Reviews and Authors have affected each of there lives.
This first post is being done by the Author Jessica Park, who has written the Gourmet Girl Series, as well as the new release of Relatively Famous.
When I officially joined the writing community with the publication of STEAMED (A Gourmet Girl Mystery), I had no idea what I was in for. I thought writers just, you know, wrote. Obviously I was inexcusably brainless about what it would mean to be published, and totally unprepared for the good, the bad, and the ugly.
The best parts? The people I’ve met, and the friends that I’ve come to love. Really. And then it’s those “firsts.” The first time I saw my book in a bookstore was just amazing. Getting my first review from Publishers Weekly, getting nominated by RT for “Best Amateur Sleuth.” Oh, and most importantly, the first time Harriet Klausner reviewed my book and misspelled all the characters’ names and gave away the ending and made bad puns and… Oh, you all know the drill.
Now, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention one disappointment: Finding out how rude and nasty a few people are. It’s the negative side of the internet. I don’t expect everyone to like my books. I don’t. I have no issue if someone writes a review that essentially says, “Eh, I didn’t care for this book, and here’s why. This is what the book is, and this is what the book is not.” But I cannot understand what possesses someone to go to Amazon or a blog and behave like a monster. People hide behind the anonymity of the internet and say things they would never say in person. I’ve had my share of crummy reviews, but the ones that sting are the ones that hit below the belt. I had someone on Amazon question my relationship with mother; she wondered what kind of mother would write such “smut” with her daughter. Although I was completely amused that she was so offended by the idea of a twenty-something woman ever having sex, and so this reader only read five pages before she had to run to the computer and type up something obnoxious. And it’s not just my own reviews. I’ve seen so many cases where a “reviewer” clearly has no compassion, or maybe no understanding, that authors read their reviews. Authors actually have feelings and are not here just for you to insult. I know, shocking, right? It’s pretty easy to see when an online reviewer is on a power trip, delighting in criticizing someone else’s work for the “fun” of it. And most people who read those reviews are smart enough to see through someone’s nastiness and judge for themselves how valid the review is.
There seems to be a bit of a taboo on authors speaking out publicly about bad reviews, but the truth is that absolutely everyone gets them. So there is no point in pretending it doesn’t happen. And now I’m at a point where I can actually laugh at some of them. I’ve had two letters from readers who basically wrote me to say how much they hated one of my books and then detailed why it was so awful. Um… really? I wrote back and said, “So, you wrote me to say how terrible my book was? That’s interesting. And unusual. I’m not sure how to respond other than to say that presumably no one has a gun to you head, forcing you to read anything else of mine.”
So let me publicly thank all the reviewers who behave themselves and do not act like lunatics. I am sending you all awards via Miss Manners.
In good news, I’m routinely astounded by the incredible generosity of so many bloggers and readers. I recently self-published a young adult novel, RELATIVELY FAMOUS, and offered up free PDF copies of it to bloggers. So many lovely people wanted copies, and I deeply appreciate the time and energy they spent reading, writing thoughtful reviews, posting their reviews to online bookstores, and doing interviews with me. What an amazing group of people.
The community of writers and readers is almost unbelievably wonderful. I had no idea that other authors would be so generous and supportive. Despite tough markets these days, I have yet to meet an author that has demonstrated any sort of selfish or competitive spirit. I’ve made great friends, many of whom I’ve never actually met, and authors have been so willing to give me blurbs, help me with plots, get me through writer’s block, etc. And the readers? I love my readers. Love, love, love my readers. Getting positive (and unsolicited!) feedback from fans is just… well, there’s nothing like it. I had one woman who wrote me to say that one of my Gourmet Girl books got her through a terrible day at the hospital while her husband was there having a litany of tests. She said that if it weren’t for the laughs that she’d had, she wouldn’t have made it through the day without coming unglued. I love that.
I am so fortunate and so grateful to be part of such a wonderful network. I can’t imagine another line of work that would put me in touch with such a supportive and fun group of people.