Let me preface this by saying I have gotten some wonderful, insightful reviews of LOVE, MEG and for that I am very appreciative. I love when a reader has understood the book - and by extension, me - and can articulate that to other readers. And I hope that they are able to influence others who might not have understood.
That being said, it's very tough being on the receiving end of a review. Last year before my book came out, I thought for sure everyone would love it! After all, my agent and editor loved it, right? So did my mom, right? As Jerry Seinfeld's mom said about him, "What's not to love?"
There's also an assumption on the part of a first-time novelist that the book will be reviewed by Publishers Weekly and The New York Times and heck, why not People magazine and USA Today! In truth, those reviewers are absolutely swamped with material and will never get around to the book even if it was delivered with a giant chocolate bar.
(Would that work, do you think? I can make amazing double chocolate brownies!)
So much for getting on Oprah.
Whether it's a well-regarded critical outlet like School Library Journal or just someone talking about your book on their MySpace page, there's a cringe factor involved when you read about your own work. If I see someone has included my book on their shelf on a MySpace or Facebook page, I tell myself, "don't look, don't look!" But I have to! I have to know what they think! These are my readers, I want to know! So I click on it while averting my eyes, kind of like how I watch slasher flicks.
So far, I am happy to say I have never read a post that crushed my book entirely but I have read many in which the blogger gave it only a semi-thumbs up. But those are not fun to get, believe me. No one wants to hear someone thought their book was "goodish."
In a couple of months, my second novel, ALL ABOUT VEE, will be out and I hope that more people will read it because they may have seen my first novel on the bookshelf of their local library or bookstore - or maybe just because they liked LOVE, MEG. But this also means more people will review it! I think I am a little wiser than I was last year, a little less vulnerable to harsh words. I know to take reviews with a grain of salt - and to not place all of my ego in their hands.