We’ve been following Kelly Gay‘s fledgling career since shortly after her sale was announced last summer, and she has appeared at Fantasy Debut in a series of guest posts on her milestones as an upcoming author. The first post was called “ Switching Gears” and was about going from query mode to contracted author mode. The second post was about signing that contract. And the third post was on revisions and copyedits. Tomorrow is release day for The Better Part of Darkness, so here she is with her last post as a pre-published author.
It’s your intrepid, and slightly harried, debut author here. It’s been a while since my last ‘Milestone’ post, so we have a lot to talk about. We’ve covered what it’s like to switch gears from the aspiring writer mindset to that of working writer, getting the contract, as well as revisions and copy edits.
In the last few months, I’ve worked on book 2 revisions, held my first book in my hands, gained experienced in promotion, stressed over reviews, and am now biting my nails over the release. I’m not afraid to tell you that I turned a very nauseous shade of green when my editor told me that Amazon and B&N had started shipping their pre-orders.
So let’s start with 1) Revisions: Now that I’ve had some experience with revisions, I know I can handle the notes on book 2, though, the fact that I’m working on them in the midst of Book 1’s release is something new—some days are definitely harder than others when it comes to concentrating! 2) Holding my book for the first time: An incredible feeling, and, for me, a very quiet moment of affirmation. 3) Promotion: I’m getting the hang of it. I love interacting with readers and writers, but I never realized how time-consuming it would be. It has made me improve my time management skills, for sure. 4) Reviews, the topic of today’s post: Totally nerve wracking to consider, but also a necessary and vital part of the book industry. Without reviewers, without readers expressing their opinions, a lot of books would simply go unnoticed.
I hoped and prayed for months that my first review would be decent. If just one reader out there liked my book, then I could handle the rest. And when it came, I was griped with such dread and anticipation; it felt like I was standing on a bridge with a bungee cord about to jump. Thankfully that first one was pretty decent, and my relief, as you can imagine, was overwhelming.
Once the reviews start rolling in, they spawn a rush of emotions: hope, fear, dread, hesitation . . . I hold my breath, I tense up, preparing myself against the bad, and then I dive in and read like a speed demon. If it’s a good review, I go back and read it again, absorbing all the wonderful words. Good reviews are big, glowing, wonderful boosts in confidence, and I feel like I can accomplish anything.
But, with over a decade of writing and several manuscripts under my belt, I’ve had my share of harsh critiques and judge’s feedback, too. In some ways, harsh reviews are like harsh critiques only made public. And that’s where the real fear comes in. It’s public. It’s out there for all to see. And that is scary. When someone doesn’t like my work, whether it’s presented in a nice, gentle way or a malicious way, it still hurts on some level. Writing is so personal, how can it not hurt?
One of the keys to handling the not-so-great review is to realize I can’t do anything about the review, but I can control how long I let it affect me. It’s also great to have a support system of other writers that I trust. People I can rant with, commiserate with, and jump for joy with.
So, as the reviews come in, I’ll try to remember that it’s a subjective, creative medium. And like any art medium, some people will get it, some people will be baffled, some people will hate it with a passion, and some will love it so much they plaster the bathroom walls with my pages. (My parents need to redo their bathroom anyway).
As for me, it’s been a delight to follow Kelly from signing to publication! Best of luck, Kelly!