I’ve had a number of books published, and it still amazes me to think that total strangers are reading these weird elaborations of my most intimate dreams and nightmares. Judging me for the shameful confessions of my Id. The way I cope is by not thinking about it—I cast each book into the void and move on to the next one.
But the reviews. The reviews keep reminding me.
Now, I love anybody who makes the effort to read my books. If someone spends their precious time (not to mention money) on my writing, they are entitled to air their opinion. They bought that right, and it’s my responsibility as an author to face their criticism in good grace. It’s not like I never expected to piss anybody off. Frankly I’m amazed I haven’t been prosecuted by now.
To be honest, I’m always fascinated to read other people’s thoughts on my work, because often I have no idea what I’ve written until it is explained to me. Like Kafka, I tend to think everything I write is funny…which may not be how most others see it.
The only thing that bothers me is when a reviewer misrepresents my work. This is usually not out of any nefarious purpose, but because they haven’t read enough of it to have an informed opinion. Easier just to run with their assumptions.
This happened a lot with my first book, Xombies (2004), which was assumed by many to be genre kitsch, when in fact it was actually an attempt to subvert and satirize genre kitsch. Not everyone could appreciate the difference. Yet I keep trying!
Then there are the folks who get offended by a novel’s subject matter but will not admit it for fear of revealing their own bias—instead they will simply announce that the book is bad. They know that if they say they hate a book because it offends something they hold sacred, that might actually attract more readers, so they simply say, “Don’t bother reading this book.” That’s not a review, but a cheap attempt at sabotage.
Reading is intensely personal; no one can predict what someone else may or may not like. Many of the greatest books ever written were banned at one time or another by sanctimonious idiots setting themselves up as arbiters of taste. If a book is “bad” because we disagree with its ideas, then we should be prepared to say why.
Often I wish I could respond to reviews, start a dialogue with readers. Maybe someday I’ll do that, spend my golden years replying at length to every remark ever posted on Goodreads.
Nothing could possibly go wrong with that.Read More...