I Like You, I’m Just Not That Into Your Book
One of the most amazing things about being published – and one I wasn’t really thinking about, when I was seeking to get published – was that suddenly, I was part of a community of authors. Both of my debut author groups, the Tenners and the Classof2K10, have been amazing in terms of support, and through The Enchanted Inkpot I’ve made a whole bunch of like-minded fantasy-loving friends.
But here’s the thing: all those authors? Have written books. Kind of by definition. In my first flush of excitement, I determined to read all the books written by the members of authors I was becoming friends with online.
And here’s the problem: How many of you have liked every single one of the last 60 or so books you’ve read?
Obviously, this can lead to some awkwardness. What if I like an author personally – have chatted with him or her about marketing, commiserated over bad reviews, cheered over the book’s successes… and then I read the book itself, the reason the two of us even know each other. And I don’t like it.
It’s not even a what if. It’s inevitable.
Also inevitable, of course, is that some of my writer-friends will not like my book. Some won’t even be interested in reading it. Some will read it and hate it.
The fact that not everyone is going to like your book is something every author has to get used to. But it’s on a different level when it’s your peers, your support group, who dislike your book – and maybe secretly think those bad reviews you’re complaining about are dead-on.
So what do I do about it? Well, to be honest, mostly I try to avoid it. This is one of the reasons I don’t write reviews, and in fact try not to talk about books online in any sort of systematic way. I know some writers argue that criticism and negative reviews are necessary, and I don’t disagree. But I don’t think it’s necessary that they come from me. Every writer has to develop a thick skin when it comes to reviews, but some of us are more successful at it than others. And even the thickest skin can be punctured by a friend.
It’s a bit stilted and artificial to refrain from talking about books online when books are so much of what I love and what I do. But I also think it’s wise. As a writer reading reviews, you come to understand something about your own book: that not everybody likes it, and the people who dislike it don’t cancel out the ones who do. And hopefully, you learn to understand that about other peoples’ books too, including the ones you dislike. Other people do love that book you threw against the wall, and it’s not because they’re unintelligent or have no taste or don’t appreciate good literature. If anything, it is easier to understand this when you know the author personally, so you’re well aware that he/she isn’t lacking in taste or unappreciative of good literature. You’re not part of that book’s audience. That’s fine.
The situation is alleviated by the fact that, since writers usually write to their own tastes, these feelings are often mutual. There’s nothing quite like finding out that a writer whose books you greatly admire admires your books as well. Similarly, if I don’t find a writer’s book to my tastes, it is incredibly likely that writer isn’t really into my books either. I have some close writer friends with whom I suspect this is true. It doesn’t have to stop us from sharing and supporting each other in all aspects of our writing careers. Maybe it wouldn’t be the greatest idea for us to be critique partners. But with a little tact, there’s no reason we can’t just be friends.
Again, I would like to thank Leah Cypess for her amazing guest post. NIGHTSPELL is out now!
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