I hope whatever timezone from where you’re reading this, life is serving you up equal parts beauty and beast.
This post is going to be about writing; it’s also about life. It’s about writing and life. If either of these interest you, please, do read on.
writing and publishing a book is its own little impish Easter basket, full of fanciful finds and hard-boiled heartaches. But then – if you’re self-published – we are presented with the labor-intensive task of finding people willing to read our books. This shouldn’t be too hard, but it is. It’s really hard. Which makes it all the more sadistically frustrating. Like trying to get the refrigerator door to shut ALL the way, but it won’t, and no matter how much rearranging you do, it simply WILL NOT CLOSE. So you slap it, kick it, pretend you’re just going to forget about it and walk away, then (haha! I got you now!) run full speed and slam your bodyweight against it. It sticks – for two seconds. Then it spits an ice cube at you. Because refrigerators are mean like that.
We live in an era where anyone and everyone can and does publish their art. This excites me. It also wearies and frustrates me. (I like to multi-task with emotions.) About a yearish ago, it was with both shock and awe that I discovered people weren’t waiting on the other side of the screen for my book to be published. They weren’t looking for it. They didn’t even know it EXISTED! How can that be!? I WROTE–A BOOK. Surely the earth’s rotation picked up a little speed, a new sun popped up somewhere, something to mark the occasion. Nope, not even a shooting star for little Cara. I know I’m not the only one out there lamenting the magnificent lack of notice of the silently published book. *fist bump*
The truth was, and at this point still is, if I wanted my book read I was going to have to work for it.
So I did.
Bloggers. They are my book’s lifeblood. Without these devoted darlings, Awakening Foster Kelly would never be read. She would sit on a virtual shelf somewhere, never knowing what it was to be held, savored, enjoyed and anticipated. Books are sensitive things; they need love and attention, someone to coo over their covers and sniff their pages, or else they become sad and indifferent. Thanks to bloggers, AFK is neither. If you’re reading this, bloggers, THANK YOU! You are irreplaceable and integral, though I know you don’t always feel that way; nor do you receive the respect and appreciation rightly due.
There’s likely several ways to go about the Review Requesting process. Mine is fairly simple and straightforward. These aren’t tips, in case you were wondering, but they could be, if you wanted them to.
First, I look for someone who enjoys reading. This part is very important. I’ve learned that sometimes people think they enjoy reading when really what they enjoy is chips and salsa. The easy to grab, no-thinking required, simply offered appetizer. Don’t get me wrong, I looooove chips and salsa. Even better, chips and guacamole. But I don’t want that everyday. It would make me fat. No, I want something that will sustain. Something hearty that needs to be chewed a few times before it can comfortably be swallowed. Protein. If you’re a blogger that likes protein, I want you. Call me, maybe?
Second, I glance at their “favorites” shelf and make a blink opinion about whether or not the book I’ve written is something in which they might enjoy investing.
And third, I read a couple reviews. If these things line up, I send out a brief email letting them know I would like to work with them. For the most part, this has been a very successful modus. A few weeks – sometimes months, depending on their wait-list – later, the review comes in. No book is one size fits all. I always half-expect people not to like my book at all. I also half-expect for them to adore it. The good and the bad should be taken in equal stride. Occasionally, though, there is extreme backfire. Dragon-breathing, acid-spitting backfire.
Recently my book had an encounter with a dragon. I feel bad because the dragon didn’t understand her. They were never going to get along; I see that now. But the dragon let her acute biases blind her the beautiful nature of I don’t know. As a constantly looked-at culture, we’re afraid to say these three words out loud. People might think us stupid, uniformed. They might laugh and call us names and do ugly things with their mouths and eyebrows. It’s intimidating and embarrassing not to know out loud. Better to get hostile and sarcastic and throw word-grenades, than admit we might not fully understand something. I feel like it’s become taboo to be anything less than omnipotent in public. Why? I am not a genius. Nor am I an imbecile. I don’t know WAY more than I do know. It’s just a fact.
We have to be able to get these words out. We have to. We must be willing not to know and let it rest at that. Especially when it comes to people and their art. I don’t know a book about once a week. It frustrates me; it makes me want to defend why I don’t know, using sharp, smart words and beautiful metaphors; that way no one can even suggest I might not understand. I don’t know a person every once in a while. That’s even harder. I’m learning it’s okay not to know someone, not get them at all, and still respect them. We can do that for each other. We are not infants.
I feel grateful to have reached a point in both my life and my career to receive malicious spittle for what it is – spittle. There is never ending value in the precise and carefully constructed critique. Spittle is just messy. And gross. It makes you want to wash your face and your hands, then take a whole shower because some probably got in your hair.
As much as I wanted to tell that dragon she had no business speaking viciously about a book she didn’t understand (nor finished reading), I remembered some dragons can’t be reasoned with. Some are super cool – like Puff The Magic Dragon, and the one from How To Train Your Dragon. But this one was all ragey and RAWRRRRR!!!! . . . It was best I leave her alone or she might have tried to eat me too. I also reminded myself that people with claws need someone or something into which to sink them. But, hey, if you’re reading this, it probably wouldn’t hurt to have them filed down a bit.
The truth is it’s tough. It stings. Rejection is never easy, and when it’s served with a sharp tooth, it’s hard to let go right away. But just as much as we need to not know out loud, we also need to be able to let go, as soon as possible. It took me a day. It might have taken a little longer if not for something radtastic happening. Another review came in, and while I wouldn’t say it was glowing, it rebutted nearly every single gripe the dragon spit. It’s not the first time that has happened, either. It seems the moment someone is saying my book is too long, someone else is saying what a quick read it was. One person feels the characters weren’t fleshed out, while someone else can’t get over how real everything felt. This girl hates the poetic descriptions, but this other girl read them twice. It blows my mind, the juxtaposition. It’s beautiful.
Well, that’s all I have for now. No, wait. Look at these journals! Some seriously cute creativity going on.
If you like Rachel’s designs, you should definitely visit her on Esty. PoppyandFern
Happy Tuesday/Wednesday, everyone. And Happy I don’t know to you!