Publication, reviews, and unsolicited advice —

So, you know, only a couple weeks now till BLACK DOG hits the shelves! Very exciting!


February 4th, I believe, according to Amazon.

This is when I get nervous. Reviews, you know! What if people hate this book? What if *people I like* hate this book?

BLACK DOG has 14 reviews up at Goodreads already — 10 of ’em are four or five stars; 3 one or two stars. I know you’re probably thinking that that those three negative reviews are eating me alive, but, and here is the first bit of unsolicited advice I am going to hand out for free:

IMPORTANT TIP #1: If you are a writer? Consciously choose to focus on the positive reviews.

Not everyone is going to love your books. I bet it’s no trouble for you to think of a couple or three authors whose work you simply detest. (Certainly I can.) Popular authors, too. There is no reason for everyone in creation to love the same books. When some people don’t love your books, don’t dwell on that. Instead, read the positive reviews, print them out, show them to your mother, quote the most perspicacious bits to your friends. Dwell on those reviews.

IMPORTANT TIP #2: Even people who love other books you wrote may not love this one. Think of three of your favorite authors: have you loved every single book they’ve ever written? Of course not. I did not keep the Rusalka books by CJ Cherryh. I hated the Nazi duology by Barbara Hambly. You all know how much I love Patricia McKillip, right? But I was severely disappointed by SOLSTICE WOOD.

And that’s okay! If an author you love writes enough books, eventually she will write one you don’t like. If YOU write enough books, eventually you will write one that any particular reader doesn’t like, even if that person is usually a fan. THAT IS OKAY. I still love McKillip and Hambly and Cherryh. The reader-writer relationship will survive even a very strong disagreement about the quality of one or two books.

IMPORTANT TIP #3: Don’t go out of your way to force your friends to tell you they didn’t really like one of your books. This is just my advice, and of course totally unsolicited, but personally, I never ask my friends, especially my writer-friends, what they thought of My New Book. I figure if a friend read it and loved it, they would tell me. The writer-friends among them may be sincerely too busy to read it right now, or scared that if they do read it, they might hate it, and that would be so uncomfortable. So I never ask Have you read it yet? What did you think?

Your mom, now. She is required to buy a copy, and one or two to give away, and she must read it and tell you she loves it even if she really doesn’t read books in your genre. Because, hey, that’s what moms do.

IMPORTANT TIP #4: Now that I have several friends who are book bloggers, I have a new, firm rule: Don’t get bent out of shape if a blogger-friend dislikes one of your books.

That rule has actually been in place for a while. Bloggers put their opinions out there, after all. One blogger — a blogger I follow all the time and really like — did not care for CITY. (Yes, I remember that review, even after five years.) I know of two bloggers I sometimes follow who didn’t like HOUSE OF SHADOWS.

Hand out your book to 200 bloggers, and this is bound to happen. It just is. People — strangers, friends, bloggers, fans — are sometimes going to dislike one of your books. If you’re not going to be a hermit, I think it’s so important to get it rock-solid-settled in your own mind that this is okay. To give people permission (in your own mind, I mean) not to like one of your books.

Or else you can be a hermit, I guess. But in this wide world, it’s a shame to close yourself off like that.

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