Sugar and Spice/Snakes and Snails
So, it's been about a year since I entered the wacky world of publishing. My initial release was Firsts, which was contracted approximately this time last year and released in November of 2009. I've made some fantastic friends within the writing community, learned a thing or two about the differences between publishers and editing styles, and for someone who did very little promotion, comparatively, have enjoyed moderate success.
I suppose the most important thing I've learned over the last year is the impact of reviews. Like almost every writer I know, I take my work very seriously. I put all of myself into whatever I'm crafting, often obsessing over word placement and sentence structure to the point of insanity. While I try to keep myself grounded in terms of reception, I was terrified after each one of my first three releases that the review sites would rip them to shreds. They didn't...at least not yet. Now, I didn't receive a glowing review every time, but every site had something nice to say. Those reviewers that loved my work REALLY loved my work, and those that didn't love it still enjoyed it, at the very least. Ripples Through Time was a radically different story for me, at least at the time it was written, and after it was released I spent countless hours Googling for review results. It was, ironically, the least reviewed of all my releases, but those reviews it received were complimentary, even the lukewarm ones.
I suppose this is what ultimately convinced me to calm down when it came to reviews. Yes, a bad review can hurt - my non-professional peer-reviewed writing has taught me that much - but it's an inevitable part of being published. You can't please everyone, you can't appeal to everyone's personal tastes, you can't make the perfect book in terms of everyone's definition of perfection. Therefore, when my latest release, Moving Target, hit the e-book shelves, I barely followed its initial progression.
This is the first release I've had that has displayed an almost even divide in its reception. I've received some positively flattering reviews from HEA Reviews and Seriously Reviewed, and at least one downright depressing review from Book Utopia. What these individual reviewers took away from Moving Target is completely different. Completely. And it has illustrated something that I needed illustrated for my own survival as a professional writer. I'm a sensitive person, though I try not to be, and I let little things get to me, even though I know I shouldn't. I've wanted badly to be well-received, and while I've gotten my wish in many venues, I've come to accept emotionally what I've always known intellectually.
You can't please everyone. Sometimes, you can't please anyone. I'm perfectly content now knowing that I can please some of the people some of the time, and at least hope to keep the others entertained. If a reviewer from one review site doesn't like something, that doesn't necessarily mean it was a bad story...it might mean that, granted, but not necessarily. What it definitely means is that story didn't speak to that person, and that's fine. I just like knowing my work speaks to others.
So thank you to my reviewers, the good, the bad, and the ugly. And thank you to my readers - all of you. You have helped me develop a better sense of self. For a year into my publishing career, I think I'm exactly where I need to be.