I dreamed last night that I got a one-star review on A Gift of Ghosts. And not just a one-star review, a really mean, really hateful one-star. I’m personally a firm believer in everyone’s right to not like something and say so — the world would be bland and boring if everyone had exactly the same taste — but this review was different.
I just started to edit the first line of this post, but then I stopped myself. See, I actually think that reviews belong to the book, not the author. When Ghosts is reviewed, it’s the book that gets the review, not me. Instead of “I got,” that line should read “Ghosts got a one-star review.” I believe reviews are about the person who wrote them first, the story second, the author of the story a far distant third, and I try not to take them personally. (I wrote that originally “I don’t take them personally,” but I’m not a saint — of course there are times when a mean review lingers. But I try!)
Anyway, my opening line is actually right the way I wrote it in this context, because this hateful review was me. It was me being mean to me. And I realized it even before I woke up. (I admit, I did go check Amazon just to make sure I hadn’t found it while half-asleep and imagine that I was dreaming it, but no surprise, it wasn’t there.) Nobody is meaner to me than I am.
So… new plan for today. Not continuing rewriting Time from scratch — or giving up entirely, which was where I was at yesterday — but figuring out how to keep the parts I like of old Time, while resolving the plot holes that were giving me a nagging itch of incompetence.
The worst part — really, the only negative part of self-publishing in my experience — is that there is no one around to save me from myself, for both good and bad. No one to say, “Yes, you’re right, this isn’t working,” and toss out some suggestions for fixes but equally, no one to say, “No, you’re wrong, stop trying to re-invent the wheel and just have fun.”
Judy, Judy, Judy said:
I could see where not having someone to bounce off of would be a drawback to self-publishing. I still think I’m going to try it, though.
Oh, it’s definitely not enough of a drawback that I would have done anything differently. But I think it’s probably essential to have several really strong critique partners — who are not RL friends — first. I couldn’t have (wouldn’t have) published the first books without the critiques I got from critique circle, project team beta, and people I knew from fan fiction. It’s just harder to get that kind of feedback from strangers when you’re really flailing on a project, the way I am on Time.