Authors can be very protective of their stories and characters. Hmm, imagine that. It’s understandable why. You spend all your time/energy creating the characters and story, nurturing it from the very first word you type. When the time comes that your manuscript’s all grown up and ready for the world, you send it out into the hands of a publisher/editor to bring your ‘baby’ to the readers. A huge amount of trust happens at that point.
You trust that they’re going to treat your manuscript with respect, whether they accept it or not. Bet some don’t realize this but…this is your first review. Granted it’s not out there for everyone to see, but it’s a review none-the-less. One that will either say, your baby’s just about ready to make its own way into the world, or maybe, it needs to go back home and do some more growing. If this first review comes back positive, then once you’ve worked back and forth with your editor and it’s the best manuscript that you two can make – out for the masses it goes.
Do you still feel protective of your manuscript? Yup, you can’t just turn that off. However at this point you need to figure out your coping mechanisms. I know you’re thinking at this point that I’ve lost my mind and might not understand what I mean. I hate to be the one to pop your bubble, but someone has to.
Are you prepared for the pop?
Not everyone is going to love your baby. In fact, some might even hate your baby. It would be fantastic if everyone loved every book we worked so hard on, but it’s a better world with everyone loving something different. Some love the angst, some hate it. For every plot theme out there (BDSM, shifters, vampires, doctors, athletes, the list goes on and on), someone loves it, someone hates it.
So what do you do when you see that first one star/lip/pea/fang/whatever, after your book comes out? And don’t fool yourself into believing that it’s not going to happen, because with the law of averages at some point, you will see a bad/horrendous/nasty/attacking review. Plan those coping mechanisms now.
I know I’ve actually talked some of my authors off the ledge of attacking back on those reviews; I’ve “banned” them from going to sites (or even Goodreads). With the number of review sites and readers leaving reviews on Goodreads/Amazon/ARe/B&N/etc. not everyone is going to take your feelings as the author into consideration when commenting on your story.
My recommended approach? If you feel it’s absolutely necessary that you comment on the review – thank the reviewer for their time spent reading your story and leave it at that. The professional approach. If you engage or try and defend your story, it won’t do you much good and could even turn off some readers. If you are super-sensitive about your work, I highly suggest you avoid the computer for a week after your book comes out, and don’t go “stalking” your book. Also, find someone that you trust, maybe your beta reader (if that term confuses you, look at last month’s blog) or, if you’re friends, your editor, to confide in and give you support.
Remember that whatever you decide to use as your coping – put a big note by your computer to remind yourself, think before you type. Your book will always be your baby, keep your confidence that it will forge its own way in the publishing world.