#WW The Reader’s Reaction:
I can admit the worst thing a reader ever wrote to me. It was 2007, I was 16, Golden Eagle Publishing had released my first novel, and Honesty Box was the hottest app on Facebook. My high school self was naïve enough to have one of these, and one day, I found myself staring at the message, “you are the bastardization of the English language.”
I’ve tried not to think about this message often. In fact, I confess I’ve tried to completely kick it out of my mind – especially since I think it had more to do with high school bullying than anything notable. But the most common type of bullying I faced for writing a book in high school followed this script:
Normally, I never responded, but sometimes I snapped and stupidly said, “I already did.”
Which almost always got, “Now, go write a good one.”
Perhaps, this affected me more than I would like to admit. A few months later, when I ran into issues with my publisher, I didn’t fight it much, and in turn, November Snow was taken off of the market. I can’t say I minded much. I think I was a little relieved. That’s probably why seven years passed between my first and second publication. Now that I’m 23, my coping skills have definitely grown.
Writers always get responses – both good and bad – and some days are more uplifting than others. Some days are even downright hilarious. Not in the mocking way, of course, but in the this-reader-could-be-my-best-friend sort of way. Some days, readers make your day, and other days, a reader’s comment inspires your next piece of work. Sometimes, they teach you by pointing out levels of confusion or confliction, and other times, they talk about how your work taught them something about life. The combination is a beautiful thing.
I have plenty of stories I wish I could tell you about all of the wonderful readers who have reviewed my novels, shared quotes, tweeted encouraging messages, and sent me an email just to explain their emotions – but the important part is how the uplifting readers always overcome the negative ones. I could share hundreds, but I would like to share a few to show types:
The Encouraging Reader:
Pau from Pau’s Castles recently read Death Before Daylight. In fact, she’s read all three books of The Timely Death Trilogy, and she even took the time to review them – and she goes even further. She LIVE tweeted to me about everything – her reactions, her jokes, her emotions (including how she squealed in the middle of class while reading), and her overall encouragement. Readers – WOW – you all make my entire life when you do this. I cannot begin to explain how delighted I feel when I am able to talk to readers and connect with them as friends. Joking about my own work with someone is surreal. The friendship between a reader and an author is unlike any other type of friendship I’ve ever had, but it brings me just as much love, comfort, and joy.
The Confused Reader that brings laughter into my overly serious writing life:
I want to clarify that this is not condescending laughter. This is more like a friend, even if the reader never knows it. I actually enjoy moments where readers have pointed out confusion or mislabeled something because it’s often something I (and many editors) overlooked. My most recent example came from numerous readers over Take Me Tomorrow. A few readers have compared the dictator, Wheston Phelps to Michael Phelps – the Olympic swimmer – instead of who I intended – Fred Phelps of the Westboro Baptist Church – and I’ve had a great giggle over that image-switch. If you’re one of the readers who thought of Michael Phelps instead of Fred, please don’t worry! I had a great giggle, and I feel like it’s more of an inside joke than anything else. Also, more people thought of Michael than Fred. (A handshake goes out to Just Another Girl and Her Books who pointed out many topics, including Fred Phelps, that went overlooked in Take Me Tomorrow. If you’re curious what the sequels might show, this review definitely foreshadows a lot of it).
The Critical Reader
And sometimes the negative can help me take a step back and laugh at myself. In fact, these have begun to remind me of my initial editing process. The clearest example I can think of was when my editor for Seconds Before Sunrise was going through the first chapter and saw, “Robb grabbed his plaid sh*t” instead of his shirt. Yep. That editing mistake happened. That’s embarrassing. And – trust me – I will never, EVER make that mistake again. Every time I write the word “shirt”, I will cringe. (And then, I will laugh uncontrollably).
Me as a Reader
I am a reader, too, and while I’m not everyone’s reader, my day is made when I tweet to an author and they actually tweet back to me. This recently happened to me when I sent a message to Stephen Collins, the graphic novelist of The Gigantic Beard That Was Evil. (Read it if you haven’t by the way)! It was literal Christmas for me.
No matter how many readers authors come in contact with, I think we can find ourselves in their reviews, but more importantly, we connect with friends. To think that I might be able to bring joy to a reader in the way Stephen Collins brought joy to me, fills me with a lot of hope and understanding that I didn’t have when I was 16. I am very grateful for all the readers who have helped me grow since then, and I continue to love my readers more than anything else. It’s also nice to have reviews on Amazon and Barnes & Noble instead of Honesty Box.
A big shout-out goes out to Charles E. Yallowitz for posting my guest article – Balancing the Editor’s Life with an Author’s Dream – on Legends of Windemere. Check his website out by clicking the link! In my article, I discuss balancing my life as an editor and an author, and I hope you enjoy the read.
I also want to give a gigantic shout-out to JK and CK from House Kelley! About one month ago, this wonderful couple guided me to Clean Teen Publishing, and I thank them for their guidance. Check their writing out, say hi, give them a big hug, and write with them. They are fantastic.