When I started writing with Holly, I knew people would go relatively easy on us. As a self-published author you understand that it’s mostly family and friends who are going to read your work first (in fact that they might be your only audience!), and that their reviews will be gentle. In addition, I knew that people would be extra-kind given that our work is co-written by an 11-year-old. Which is lovely–I definitely don’t want her to get her feelings bruised by bad reviews, and I’m more than grateful for any and all support and feedback!
But when you write something–particularly in the over-saturated YA genre–there’s always the chance that you’ll get slammed for missing your mark. Because I published my first YA work under a pen name (as explained in a previous post), I have far fewer friends and family reading it. I desperately wanted to see how it went over with my target audience, and I was thrilled when Cherry from Read Forevermore decided to review @Robertopancake on her blog. I saw her post today and slowly, slooowwwly, scrolled down, unsure what it would say. And I have to add here. for those who are non-writers, getting a review on Amazon, or someone’s blog, or on Goodreads, can be like Christmas morning: you unwrap it cautiously, waiting to see if it’s a pair of socks, or a $100 Sephora gift card. Well, this review was like a $500 Sephora gift card, because she loved the book!
To find that someone got exactly what I wanted them to from my writing left me stunned. You always hope that they will, but then there are moments where you ask yourself if you’re the most mad human being to ever live, going out there and self-publishing things like anyone cares. After reading the review, I think I sat there in a quiet room for like fifteen minutes, not blinking. I was like, So wait–an actual teenage-type reader liked my book? And laughed? And almost cried? Whaaaaa? In all the years I’ve been writing (a lot) it’s been the book that I’ve gotten the most and best feedback from agents on, but even getting as close as I did to having someone take me on based on that work, it still never quite came together. But none of that even matters now, because to read the praise of a complete stranger over something you made is…so magical. And while I know there is an equal and opposite reaction that comes with negative reviews (which I haven’t yet encountered, but am certain to), I’m so grateful that I got to experience this feeling first.
Now I need to go and bask in this glow as I prep for the first day of school on Wednesday, because I have other teenage-type people who will expect a teacher whose head isn’t stuck in the clouds!