It’s terrifying. You have spent the last year or so of your life writing your novel, living in your mind in a world that doesn’t really exist. Your characters are as real to you as your own children (and you may even understand them better). You have gotten preliminary feedback from trusted and ruthless friends, you have edited until you can’t read your own words on the page any longer, and then, you send your “baby” off to the first major reviewer.
Just like waiting for a baby to be delivered, I am in the state of waiting for my “review results.” Doubt and fear edge my mind and every few thoughts of my day wander to, what if he doesn’t like it? A bad review can be a death knell for a book before it is even published. A great review can bring a book to unimaginable heights. If I were a nail-biter, I certainly would have nothing but the quick left, but instead I just stew inside, waiting, waiting for a verdict that I have no control over.
You would think it is easy, to get someone to read your book and write a few words giving their opinion about it. It isn’t. Reviewers are few and far between, and many have a several month backlog of books to read if they review books on a regular basis for a blog or newspaper or magazine. I have given my previous book away for free, on the condition that the recipient goes to my book’s Amazon page and leaves a review. And even that is no guarantee a shining review will be the result of giving a freebie up to the world.
A fellow World Nouveau author, Elayne James (The Lightbridge Legacy series) and I designed little stickers that we print up on our computers for the inside covers of our freebie books that read: This is a complementary reviewers copy. When you are done, please review the book on Amazon.com and pass it on to someone whom you think might enjoy it! We even include a link for the reader to follow, to ensure that potential reviewers understand where to go and what to do. I probably have twenty “stickered” copies of my book The Time Traveler’s Apprentice at Hollywood High out there, somewhere, forging a path across the continent or sitting ignored on a potential reader’s shelf, forgotten. Who knows? Once these books leave your hands, you lose control and don’t know where they go, who reads them, what is being said. It is the ultimate leap of faith, to set your baby free.
I just set my latest book free. Now, I wait. I know where the ten or so preview copies of my book The Fairies of Feyllan are, all waiting to be read by fairy enthusiasts, including one big-wig reviewer. Doubt plagues me. Will readers find the inhabitants of my fairy empire too violent? (There is a war). Will they not like the fact that there are dragons? (I have no idea where the dragons came from, but there was an unexpected portal and I was as surprised as the fae to discover dragons dwelled on the other side). Will they relate to the characters? Will they enjoy the story?
I have absolutely no idea. Hence the waiting, the potential nail biting, the anticipation of a book about to be launched. Regardless of the reactions, the reviews, the critiques, I am hardened in my resolve to stand by my book. That is the only solace I have as a writer. It is mine, I created it, and if it doesn’t get the recognition or praise I think it deserves, so be it: I have to be satisfied knowing that just in the creating of my fantasy novel, I did something special, and that has to be the ultimate reward.