I’ve been petrified the last week or so. Well, maybe petrified is a tad too strong. Worried? Anxious? Scared? Humiliated?
I announced my three new e-books (compilations of my short stories) to one of my writing forums. Thus far, I’ve had one sale, from a guy on that site. Other than that one announcement, which hides away in an unrelated thread, I haven’t begun to promote them, so I can’t complain about sales. I’m not sure why I haven’t been promoting, as my editor sent me an email with praise such as: “you are a good writer” and “I wish all my clients wrote like you.” I was flattered, but, in retrospect, being a good writer doesn’t mean your stories are good, does it? You could be an excellent writer but write about crap. Maybe that’s me. I don’t know.
I haven’t shared my work freely with many people, except for a couple of friends who know nothing about writing (sorry friends!). Of course, they say my work is good; they think that’s what a friend is – one who reaps the praise. Well, I don’t want unwarranted praise. I want constructive criticism. Friends aren’t good for that, I’ve decided.
That guy who bought my book posted to the forum that the font in my book continually reverted from one font to another on his Kindle. Also, he wondered why the first story was a children’s story. A children’s story? A story about a child who murders her baby sibling? I don’t think so. Yes, it was written in a child’s voice, but in no way was it written for a child. Jeepers! Am I that bad a writer that a person can’t even gauge my story’s reading audience? That particular story had been critiqued by a judge in a writing contest, and he told me it bordered on “literary fare” (well, a portion of it did). It was also one of my favourite stories; that’s why I put it at the front of the book and made it available for free preview reading in the hopes of enticing readers to buy the book.
I was stunned with his “children’s story” comment. I was also horrified about the font. He said nothing else, which led me to believe that was all the “good” he could say. In other words, my work is crap. This guy usually comments how great a work is, if it is great, that is; he would not give unnecessary praise. Thus, I’m confident he considers my work crap.
I spent hours and hours trying to find the error in the formatting. Finally, I found it – some sort of hidden thingie that caused the problem. It was annoying, since my other two books of short stories were fine. Of course, a mystery “something” would have to invade the only book I sold!
I knew I had to let this guy know the error was fixed, as well as to apologize. He was my one and only buyer, after all. I didn’t want a messed up version out there, even if he hated it and would never read it again. I also didn’t want him to think I was that dumb that I couldn’t even correctly format a few short stories.
“Please download the latest version,” I whined to him. “Please ignore the numerous other test versions.” Curiosity had also gotten the better of me. I needed to know what he thought of my book, so in that same email, I asked him to give me his opinion – good or bad – and to not shroud the bad in flowery generosity of what little might be good in it.
I waited and waited for what seemed an eternity, although it was only a mere day or so. But, why would it take that long for him to reply? I just wanted a simple answer. Just a simple “yes, it’s good” or “no, it’s bad” or “it was okay, but I didn’t really enjoy it.” Maybe more elaboration would be nice, but I didn’t expect anything too time-consuming.
I guess one shouldn’t ask for the truth if one doesn’t want the truth!
So I have his email in front of me. I’ve been staring at it off and on all day, and I’m scared to open it. I’m thinking he must have had to confer with a higher-up to form his words so as not to come across too mean. Cause, he hated it, you know; he absolutely hated it and doesn’t know how to tell me.
I now wish I hadn’t asked for his opinion. Who is he, anyhow? He’s just another writer, just another reader. He’s not an expert. He doesn’t know everything there is to know about writing. If he did, he’d be a best-selling author by now. He’s not, but neither am I.
We’re both here to grow and learn. So what if he doesn’t like my book? He’s only one person out of a zillion people who could read my book. Yet, I’m consumed by the fact that if the first person who buys it, hates it, then what’s the likelihood anyone else will buy it? He’s not going to spread the word, that’s for sure, not a good word anyhow. Yet, he won’t spread a bad word either, I don’t think. He knows how another writer will feel. He’ll fluff up his words and think up something “nice” to say so he doesn’t have to say something untoward.
But…wait – he won’t do that, cause I asked for the bad, too. I should have kept my curiosity to myself. I should have told him only that the font was corrected and not mentioned anything else. In hindsight, I realize I can’t handle criticism. I’d rather hear nothing at all than something bad.
Okay. I need to know. I want to know.
I’m searching for his email.
I’m going to read it.
[More silence. Time passing.]
It wasn’t that bad.
What did he say?
“Haha, no worries. No, it wasn’t that bad at all. Honestly. It isn’t MY type of reading, of course, but I was glad to have finally read some of your stuff. Your stories have remained elusive to me [sad face]. Trust me, don’t think ill of your writing; we are all in this together, and all ever-improving. You got this [happy face].”
Okay, not that bad. This guy, I think, likes horror and sci-fi, not really my genres, so I can understand where he’s coming from.
So, shameless plug, here’s my three new books:
(1) “Liars and Other Strangers” – $1.99 (a compilation of short stories)
(2) “Love, with a slice of lemon” – $1.99 (a compilation of short stories)
(3) “a little bit of FLASH – fiction, that is” – $0.99 (a compilation of my flash fiction, stories under 1,000 words)
Want to read my books? You can purchase them here:
Please, if you buy any of them, please give me your opinion. I’m open to criticism, but please be kind! Ha ha ha