Two in a week, either I'm keen or I have a lot to get off my chest! Today's post is about reviews. Now, many of you would have seen the trouble they've caused me over the last few years with Lancelot and the Wolf, especially in America. It's not been easy having my work hated so much, but it did bring with it quite a lot of success - which is amusing considering they wanted to bury me under homophobic hate.
I still get them, every time someone posts a positive one about my work, a negative one appears to stop the book rising in the star system and ranks. It's frustrating because gaining reviews is the life blood of modern writing. It is just about the hardest part I think. First, we are placing our baby in the hands of other people we don't know and hoping they don't tell us we've produced an ugly or stupid child. Secondly, if enough people hate it they can kill your career before it's begun. Thirdly, reviews can be written by kind considerate and gentle people, they can also be written by the people that believe in their God given rights to kill everyone who isn't just like them and other insane trolls that live in this scary democracy called 'The Internet'.
We (by which I mean anyone willing to place their soul's out there for the public to view) have to live with the results. And trust me - if enough people say you're crap - it's very hard to ignore them. Now, I'm not saying people shouldn't be honest. If I'm honest there are published authors out there that really should take up a different hobby, (E.L James I might be looking at you), rather than inflict their version of the written word on us readers, but that's just my opinion. If the writing brings them joy, helps them endure their daily lives, who the hell am I to stop them? I wouldn't have published Fifty Shades because of the writing, but clearly people prefer that to some of the fine literature that is published.
So what do we do if we don't like a book or artwork or album, but we have promised to leave a review? Ignore it? Write a good one and lie? Be tactful? I go for tact, I have to say because once again - it's my opinion. I love Lancelot and the Wolf, sometimes I pick it up and read a chunk because it makes me feel better, but everything about it has been torn apart. The grammar, spelling, writing style, plot lines, characterisation and of course the sex - but I wrote it for me. Only for me. Because I wanted to talk to someone and it happened to be Lancelot and he told me his story, so I wrote it down and after three books started to think about publishing. I published it, gave my baby to the world and some of you were so kind I was utterly overwhelmed and my heart filled with joy. Then some weren't so kind and I realised there is still so much hate out there about different forms of love that I was completely floored for a long time. Fortunately it didn't floor my publishing company (who I also work for) and they helped me out.
I came out fighting and my life long support of gay rights once more became important to me. Reviews are important you see, they teach us where our weaknesses are as writers, but they can also make us stand against the hate in the world. I will defend my 'boys' and my books forever. They aren't perfect by any means. I am not a clever writer, but I work bloody hard and they are good fun stories. We writers should learn from our mistakes but we should also be proud of the courage and spirit it takes to give our babies to the world. It takes 10,000 hours to be good at something. Unfortunately it doesn't take 10,000 to learn to be nice in a review, so we need to be kind and help writers be better, not destroy them because they've yet to learn about the complexities of the apostrophe!
Be nice people, it doesn't cost a damn thing and we survive on your love of our worlds.