Sometimes I read a bit of writing advice and get myself all a dither. This week has been one of those times. I read something the other day about the importance of understanding what readers like most about your writing, so you can play to that. Since I’m writing another novel, and I’d like it to be better than the last one, that sounded like good advice to me. Then came the questions.
Do I know what readers liked best about The Brevity of Roses? And isn’t there a related question—what did readers like least? What if the novel I’m working on right now, includes too much of what they didn’t like and too little of what they did?
So far, the reviews of that novel have been positive. That’s nice, but it’s also unfortunate. I’m happy about good reviews, of course, but I know many more people have read Brevity than have reviewed it. Some have let me know privately that they enjoyed it, but many many others have said nothing, publically or privately, since reading it.
I’m left to wonder. Did they hate it? Did they throw it across the room in frustration? Were they bored? Did they not even finish reading it? Did they laugh—when I didn’t intended them to? Do they regret wasting their time and money? Or maybe they loved it, but it didn’t occur to them to let me know in some way. Silence is maddening. It’s also unhelpful.
At this point, the bulk of Brevity’s reviews were written by fellow writers. I suspect the reviews from most of my writer friends are just as biased as those from my non-writer friends. Maybe more so because writers sympathize. They know the value of good reviews, not only to boost sales, but to boost a fragile writer’s confidence. But they also know how to write, so when I read my fellow authors’ reviews, I try to read between the lines. What didn’t they say, and does that point to what they didn’t like?
I know. I know. I’m supposed to be writing for readers, not other writers. But is there a writer out there who doesn’t want the respect of her peers? OH … wait … aren’t I supposed to be writing for ME? If I write what I love, won’t my readers love it too?
But wait … what if all those silent readers did hate my novel? And what if all my good reviews really were written out of sympathy? Maybe NO ONE really liked it. Maybe I’m a terrible writer. Maybe NO ONE will buy my next book. OH … wait … if that’s the case, I can write anything I want. It doesn’t matter. Nothing matters anymore. Maybe I should turn off the computer and take up knitting instead.
Yeah, it’s been one of those weeks so far. But tomorrow (Thursday) I get to celebrate my anniversary with teppanyaki, so things are looking up.
How’s your week going?