Today’s featured guest is Carol Riggs, author of the new YA sci-fi release, The Lying Planet. So without further ado, please welcome Carol!
How I Learned to be Zen About Book Reviews
I SAID NO WAY, NEVER. In the summer of 2015, my debut book, The Body Institute, was about to release. I vowed never to read the reviews about my “baby”—I didn’t need to know what people thought, and I knew I’d obsess over the negative reviews instead of the good ones. That would mess up my writing mojo for unfinished novels because doubts would lodge in my brain. Many wise, already-published authors advised against looking at reviews.
I SAID WELL…MAYBE A FEW. But then the ARCs went out for my debut, and advanced reviews started coming in on Goodreads. I had to look. My friends—even strangers—gave me great reviews. I floated on the high. This was fun! And when some negative reviews came in (1-star, 2-star), I dared to take at peek. After all, my “skin” was pretty thick, since I had experience with critique partner feedback as well as a long submission process before I found a publisher, in which one editor would love one thing and dislike another, while another editor loved and disliked exactly the opposite things. Reading reviews was pretty much the same experience, although I did have some anguish when some reviewers condemned the book for a misunderstanding or for some random thing no one else had a problem with. It was puzzling, admittedly agonizing, and yet morbidly fascinating all at the same time.
I SAID OKAY, MAYBE A FEW MORE. It went downhill from there. A cat’s curiosity gripped me. I kept reading the reviews. My writing was described as “delectable” while another reviewer said: “The. Writing. Was. Horrible.”
Gah! Doesn’t that drive you crazy? You want to pull out your hair wondering “Which one is right?”
Answer: It didn’t matter. Authors can’t please everyone. I’d known that in my head, but I began to experience it. It helped to look up the first Harry Potter book on Goodreads and see JK Rowling had more than 64,000 1-star reviews (compared to nearly 2,539,000 5-stars). Whoa!
I SAID BRING IT ON. The reviews for my debut kept rolling in—the good, the bad, and the ugly.
In July 2016, I published Bottled, my YA fantasy. Reading those reviews was a lot easier. When a low rating would pop up, I was like, oh, there’s my first 2-star review. While one person couldn’t bear to finish the book, another raved and wanted a sequel.
In September 2016, The Lying Planet released, and I got an amusing range of reactions there too—is the concept unique and creative, or is it cliché science fiction, derivative of books like Divergent?
I’M ZEN WITH IT. So, after three books, I’ve concluded readers have incredibly different tastes, and the best thing I can do is accept that subjectivity and just go back to my writer cave and write more books, doing the best I possibly can. I treasure the readers who do connect with my writing. In the end, as long as people are reading and enjoying my book; those are the ones I’m writing for. My true fans.
Preach it, Sister! I’ve found exactly the same thing. It is impossible to please everyone. Just do your best to please most people. Good luck with The Lying Planet!
THE LYING PLANET
Promise City. That’s the colony I’ve been aiming for all my life on the planet Liberty. The only thing standing in my way? The Machine. On my eighteenth birthday, this mysterious, octopus-like device will scan my brain and Test my deeds. Good thing I’ve been focusing on being Jay Lawton, hard worker and rule follower, my whole life. Freedom is just beyond my fingertips.
Or so I thought. Two weeks before my Testing with the Machine, I’ve stumbled upon a new reality. The truth. In a single sleepless night, everything I thought I knew about the adults in our colony changes. And the only one who’s totally on my side is the clever, beautiful rebel, Peyton. Together we have to convince the others to sabotage their Testings before it’s too late.
Before the ceremonies are over and the hunting begins.
Carol Riggs is an author of young adult fiction who lives in the beautiful green state of Oregon, USA. Her books include her sci-fi debut, The Body Institute, as well as her fantasy, Bottled, and her recently released sci-fi, The Lying Planet. She enjoys reading, drawing and painting, writing conferences, walking with her husband, and enjoying music and dance of all kinds. You will usually find her in her writing cave, surrounded by her dragon collection and the characters in her head.