I did that thing again. That thing I said I shouldn’t do, but I did it anyway…I read a review for The Blood King.
I know, I know. I’ve said it before and I’ll swear to it most days, that authors should not read their reviews. And I usually adhere well to that rule. The issue is that The Blood King is such new territory for me that I have no idea how readers will react, so any time I see a new review, I practically trip over myself going to read it. (Long, thy name is Masochist.) So when I saw I’d hit Review #20, naturally, the first thing I do? Drop everything and run over to the review page.
This review, to my heart’s extreme delight, turned out to be a 5 star, and was the kind of review where the reader just GOT IT (yep, all caps bold intensity). I’ll share it here, not to brag (I swear), but because talking about it out of context could get confusing. Here’s the review in full:
“This book is an amazing piece of writing. It’s a tapestry of a novel that at first glance is an entertaining and enthralling dystopian adventure with a villain that is easy to hate and a heroine that you want to cheer on. Then you notice that woven throughout are thought provoking issues relevant to today such as gender equality, lbgtq rights and political differences. This author is someone that will be getting my money for years to come because reading this was all it took for me to become a loyal fan.”
Let me just go ahead and tell you, I was having a day. Work’s been slam-ass busy; I’d gotten my feelings hurt over a two star review a week earlier (eventually talking myself out of the funk; authors do too get to have political thoughts, by the way); and my headspace is just a little wonky lately. So when I read this review, at just the right time I needed to read it, from a reader who simply got it?
I actually teared up at my desk. (Not like, bawling baby sobs, but just that relieved oh thank god kind of way.) This person, who I’ve never met in my life, suddenly became my incredibly powerful reminder as to why I write at all, on why I wanted to write this particular story. I knew going in that covering themes of LGBTQ and POC, and teetering on political, readers could either love it or hate it. I know my stories aren’t for everyone, and that’s okay. But this was simply the story I had to write. (I mean, for real guys, I was compelled. This story flowed out unlike any other.) For a reader to convey exactly how I wanted it to come across, and to take the time to put it into words, hit my heart hard. I was by no means considering quitting writing or anything before reading it, but afterwards there was a sudden pep to my step I couldn’t get any other way.
I don’t speak for all authors, of course, but I can attest that we don’t necessarily want reviews because it feeds our egos. For some, sure, but for most of us, reviews are more about tangible results of connection. It’s validation. For however brief a time, we shared a creation that meant something to someone else. They not only accepted our art, but loved it. The artists’ way, right? For authors, it’s incredibly rewarding when readers “click” with our stories (which is why it’s so devastating when they don’t), and that’s why, despite all my badgering you about not reading reviews, I occasionally break my own rule.
Because you know what? I guarantee it’s going to make me sit down and get to work in some way. Maybe it’s writing another story, or marketing the one the reader loved, or whatever; in any case, you’re motivated and that’s good enough for today. A good review isn’t important just for the sake of reviews, or rankings, or algorithms. It also means encouragement, motivation, and confidence. Readers, I hope you understand just how much your reviews mean to us –one sentence, ten paragraphs, no matter what, authors are always grateful.
(PS–Thank you to the reviewer who left that kind note for me on Amazon today. You’ve made my entire month.)