So let me preface this with a small tidbit: it's my birthday today! Yay! :)
Anyway... lol. Lately I've been paranoid - more paranoid than usual, I'll admit - about reviews for my new book, Traitor. It's the sequel to Bridger, and I've been beating myself senseless about any negativity; not because I expect EVERYONE to love the book, but because I want my readers who do enjoy the series to feel like they're getting their money's worth, and that I'm doing their characters justice.
Having a sequel released is much, much more stressful than a first book in a series, in my opinion. There's just so much more that goes into it for me, and I wanted people to come away feeling fulfilled.
Therefore, I've become a neurotic mess that my poor husband has to talk off a ledge because of my desire to please the masses.
Not long ago I got a couple not-so-glamorous reviews for Bridger, and it bummed me out. It's okay. Like I said, not everyone will ever like a singular book. If that day comes, that book will be the antichrist of books, lol. It's just not feasible to please everyone, and that's okay. It's what keeps the book world diverse, which is GREAT! Still, it stings when you hear someone didn't enjoy your work. It's natural. We all wanna be loved, right? Right.
But. But. But.
After those bummer reviews, I got THE MOST awesome email from a reader that literally made me cry. Yup. Right there in the Cincinnati Zoo, pushing my son's stroller through the giraffe exhibit, I cried. My husband thought someone had died or some catastrophic, cataclysmic occurrence had taken place. I showed him my phone, and he smiled. He understood.
And right then, I realized I had been focusing too much on the people who didn't like my works, and forgetting the ones that did.
I had the opportunity to meet a reader a couple weeks ago, which was absolutely awesome, then this email came, and it made me remember that hey, it's okay to have bad reviews. It means you have room to grow, room to improve, and an opportunity to hone your craft. And let me tell you, when you get an email from a reader who enjoyed your book, it makes all the bad ones not matter anymore.
I write because I love it. Because I get a rush from creating a world away from my own, where I can forget everything and provide an escape from the every day. When I can share that with others, when readers can see that world and embrace it, that's awesome. When they share those thoughts with me, it seriously makes my day.
What I'm saying is this: don't sweat the bad reviews. They'll come. Oh boy, will they come. But don't let them dampen your passion for writing, or belief in yourself. Someone out there may be looking for an escape, and your book just might give them that outlet...and that is more rewarding than anything else I've ever experienced.
Those readers keep me writing, and remind me not to focus on the negativity. Thank you, readers, for keeping me positive. That's the best birthday gift I could ask for. :)