Posts Tagged: reviews
So THE ONE THAT GOT AWAY has been out for a month (two if you’re an Amazon Prime Member) and reader feedback has been coming in. Quite a lot of it actually. On Amazon.com, the book has racked up almost 2,000 reviews so far. This is understandable as TOTGA (as the cool kids aka my editor calls it) is by far my fastest and bestselling book so far. Phew! I may be in publishing for a little while longer.
But a lot more readers mean a lot more opinions. Luckily for me, people more often than not like TOTGA. Thank God for that. I was a little worried about reader feedback because there’d be a lot more people reading out of genre. More exposure is nice…as long as everyone is of the same opinion and a positive opinion at that. Well, it looks as if it is so.
Actually I’m quite pleased about TOTGA’s reception. People, by and large, got it. They embraced Zoë Sutton warts and all. I wasn’t sure readers would, considering she is someone suffering from PTSD, which makes her a little difficult to like or understand at times.
But with every book, I get feedback that I wasn’t quite expecting. So here are a few findings:
- Quite a few people want or think TOTGA is the first in a new series. I didn’t have any plans to make Zoë Sutton a series character but now you’ve got me thinking. At this point I don’t know how I would take Zoë forward and maintain the same level of danger.
- I’m surprised and amused by how many women have said they’re going to take fight classes after seeing what happened to Zoë. So be warned predatory men, the ladies are no pushover.
- I’m touched by the therapists and victims of violence/stalkers thought I got Zoë right. This was a tough book to write because I tried to interview a number of victim support groups and all of them declined to speak to me so I’m glad people feel I got it right.
- Some people have thought the violence is quite graphic and to be honest, most of the violence is off the page. It’s like Psycho, you see the knife but you don’t see anyone get stabbed. It’s your mind embellishes the rest.
- And speaking of embellishments, I’ve had a few emails describe scenes/events that never took place. It happens with every book. People always bring something to the story.
- People think the book is short but it’s longer than my last three and quite a bit longer than the average James Patterson. It’s a product of my writing style that it’s focused and pacey so it tends to feel brief.
When a book meets the public, it’s exciting and daunting because it’s an interpretive voyage of discovery…and the discovery will continue as the book continues to travel.
I have the jitters. Book jitters to be exact. I always get them with an impending release. The One That Got Away is done. My editors and I have whittled away at it over several months and it’s as good as it’s going to be. And it’s going to be good, if my editors are to be believed. My main editor thinks it’s the best book of mine she’s worked on so far. One of my copyeditors thought it was “breathtaking.” All these comments should fill me with confidence, but they don’t. They’ve made me more nervous than normal. The problem is you—the readers, the public and other sentient beings. You guys all have minds of your own. And that’s troubling to me.
The problem is stories are subjective. No two people see the same thing. We all bring our own baggage to the party when reading a book. It doesn’t matter how tightly I construct a story, there’s a chance you’ll miss some of themes I’ve woven into the piece or you’ll read into the story some subtext I never intended (but if it makes me look good I will take credit for it). So even if we have a meeting of minds, we won’t all connect on the same level. Even if we all like it.
I learned quite a while ago that readers don’t see things the way I do. When my first short story collection, DRAGGED INTO DARKNESS, came out, I was convinced which story would be the reader’s favorite—which would coincide with my favorite story. Unfortunately, it didn’t play out that way. People’s favorite stories ran from top to bottom with no clear leader. You’d think all you people are individuals or something. Shesh!
Since then I’ve come to learn that I lose ownership of my books the second they hit the bookshelves. I have to let go and leave it out there to sink or swim.
Despite that Zen outlook, it doesn’t make me feel any easier, because this is the limbo time. With only a couple of weeks to go before The One That Got Away is officially released, I fret over whether the book is a good one or a horrible mistake. It’s very Schrödinger’s Cat. At this stage of the game the book exists in two states—a work of genius and a total piece of crap—and until someone cracks the binding; I don’t know which I’ve created. Yes, I should be more confident, but I can’t. Hand on heart, the response to every one of my books has surprised me, regardless of whether of the criticism is good or bad. I always think, wow, you thought that?
All I can say I’ve put my heart and soul into the book and I hope that shines through to you, the reader.
Yours in literary purgatory, your humble author,
Categories: shelf life