I had to think about that. Did she mean reviews, as in people I had never met “critiquing” (i.e., ripping apart) a product of my blood, sweat and tears, my hopes and dreams, my heart, and not to mention my soul?
Exactly, she said. That’s what she meant.
What? Didn’t Lynn know that the only people who got to critique my book were the trusted members of my writers group and a few of my closest friends? Even then, I had asked for their feedback because I trusted them. When criticism was called for, they were kind. They were gentle. How could Lynn expect me to be excited about eight unknown reviewers? What would these strangers say? And what if they hated my book? Would they be diplomatic while they suggested I keep my day job? Or would they be mean? Would they laugh and poke fun at me like a bunch of schoolyard bullies?
My afterglow was suddenly displaced by doubts. What if my book is really crap and I’m too thick to see it? What if my friends who said they loved the book were just being nice? What if PageSpring Publishing had made a mistake when it offered me the contract? What if my Dust Bunnies are DOA? Clearly, I had shifted into panic mode. Fortunately, I had the good sense to confess my anxieties to a qualified professional.
“I was thinking today,” I wrote to Lynn in an email, “with all the reviews you've scheduled, what if my book gets horrible reviews? What if they hate it? I guess this qualifies as a panic attack. I hope you can make it all better.”
Well, of course, she made it all better. Lynn’s a polished pro, and she’s dealt with this sort of silliness before. Here’s what she wrote back:
You are totally normal. All authors go through the “What if my book sucks?” panic attack. First let me assure you, somewhere out there will be a reviewer who does not like your book. It happens to every author at some point. Everyone has different taste in reading material. So yes, there is a bad review in your future. (Know that if one out of ten readers hates your book, you are still batting higher than Stephen King, Lee Child, Amy Tan and about every other author in print.)
That being said, you have an interesting story, good characterization and talented writing. All the makings for a great book. So take a deep breath and relax. We receive hundreds of manuscripts. Out of those, we picked yours.
That means that a reader liked your book enough to pass you on to an intern, and the intern to an editor, and then the editor presented your manuscript at an editorial meeting. Last but not least, it came to me for a marketing critique. Then and only then was the decision made to offer you a contract.
You should know that, even though we are a fairly new publishing house, none of our books have lower than a 4-star rating on Amazon. In this industry, that is almost impossible. So we have a track record of picking good storytellers. And we picked you!
You will feel lots of ups and downs during the release of your novel, and you can email me with every one. I'll be here and I'll keep you grounded.
I invite you to read the first chapter of Dust Bunnies and Dead Bodies here on my website and to leave a comment (or your review!) below if you want. Or tell me how you overcame your own panic attack. DBDB’s coming-out date is October 15 and will be available on Amazon.com (pre-orders are already being accepted), Barnsandnoble.com and kobobooks.com. Please leave me a note here if you would like me to email you when DBDB is released or to reserve your copy.
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