Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Book Stuff: Promotion, Reading and Reviews (and please don't be sick of me...)

Book jacket author photo,
credit: Rick Kopstein

This book business is a funny thing.

When I thought of writing a book, only dreamed of getting it published, I never thought about the business side of things.

By trade, I'm a lawyer. While I was doing all of that writing and dreaming on the side, it was purely creative. My outlet. When I was thinking business, it was my current day to day work.

Oh, the things I know now. . . if only I'd known them then. . .

But this isn't about that, I'm not telling you those things here today (sorry), but suffice it to say, some of it has been way harder and lonelier than you would think, and some of it has been way more wonderful and inclusive than I could ever imagine.

But, I will tell you this: if you're not JK Rowling or Stephen King, there's a LOT self-promotion required. It's just how it is, and it's a delicate art, one many of us fail at on a daily basis.

For example, today is the one-month mark till the official publication release date of THE SUMMER OF LETTING GO, yet I feel many of my most loyal readers must be sick of hearing about it already, that I've been talking about it for years (I have!). It took me years (again!) to get the book deal after THE PULL OF GRAVITY, and another two years (!) for the book to be coming out. And, because of my involvement at last year's NCTE (I have a lot of wonderful teacher/librarian followers of my fist book), we got the ARCs(fn 1) out early and far and wide. So, hard not to be a little sick of it, right?(fn2)

At any rate, as the book comes out, and I (try to) steel myself for the reviews, I've been thinking a lot about myself as a reader, and trying to remind myself of the many different ways which we -- I -- read a book. The individuality and subjectivity of it all (fn3), if you will.

What I mean is this: There are books I love, that others don't feel the same connection to. Conversely, there are books people love, absolutely rave about, and I do not love them. Can't (or won't) even bring myself to finish them.

As my reviews roll in, this is (or, ahem, should be) helpful to me, especially when I see a reader voice that they haven't connected to my book.(fn4)

So, I was thinking today what it means to be a reader. How many different kinds of readers there are, and, maybe moreso, how many different ways there are to read (and love) a book.

This was one of those MUST books for me
in the past two years... 
so much so that I sought the author out
personally via email and we are now friendly.

For example, there are about five or six books I am either actively reading or still in the middle of (or, let's face it, personally done with (did not finish)), and it occurs to me that even though some of these books are taking me forever, it's not because they're not (IMHO) worthy (that goes for the "dnf"s as well!), but rather due to other circumstances (everything from time constraints and distractions to actual physical placement [I left it in the car and forgot about it for weeks, or, it's in the other bathroom ;)). I will say, however, that there is, of course, the rare book that none of those tangents or interferences will stop me from reading, the MUST books, and, I suppose, as writers we strive to be that MUST book for at least a few of our readers.

But this morning, I was thinking about some of those "not MUST" books, and how, in their own way, they really are MUSTs.

For example, I have been reading, WE NEED TO TALK ABOUT KEVIN (fn5) for well over a year now. There are a few reasons why it's been taking me so long. One is easily "technical" or logistical (is that word? It seems to be...): the print is dense and small. These days I often need reading glasses, but I forget I need reading glasses or don't know where they are. So, when I first started reading it, I often had to put it back down. Thus, I had no traction in it. Yet, every time (EVERY time) I pick it up, I am completely engrossed in it, and marvel that it's truly one of the most staggeringly well-written books I've ever read. And when I put it down (most often because there are other books I "need" to read or get to in the YA realm to feel like I am keeping up with the business side of my work as a YA writer), I can't wait to get back to it. All of this is reminding me that a really good book, one that holds your attention, can still take one forever to read.

There are the books where the writing is absolutely brilliant, but I don't personally connect to the characters, or where the characters and the writing are brilliant, but the story is too (insert whatever here: political, supernatural, dystopian, gory, etc.) for what I love to read. Whatever the case, the truth is, reading is such a subjective and personal thing.

So, as I head into my release and the inevitable less-than-glowing or "dnf" reviews, I remind myself of this. It's one reader. Good or bad, it's only one person's view. 

Charlie prefers to eat a book slowly, rather than read it.

Would love you to share in the comments what kind of reader you are and your MUST books.

And, stay tuned over the next few days for the special launch feature for THE SUMMER OF LETTING GO.

xox gae


1. Advance Reader Copies a/k/a Galley copies

2. please don't be sick of it, and if you read the ARC, please do consider buying the hard copy. It has been twice edited from the ARC and has beautiful shiny perks that the softcover ARC didn't have...

3. FYI, for example, those all-important (or at least very important) critical reviews from places like Kirkus, School Library Journal, and Publishers Weekly, most of us don't realize that is just ONE
reader, often merely contracted out by the publication (ie, not even a staff writer) who reads the book and voices his/her opinion. That ONE opinion then carries a heck of a lot of weight, if not always with readers, then at least with gatekeepers, to wit: booksellers and librarians.

4. People often ask me how I deal with bad reviews, and my quick answer is that, for me, the bad reviews validate the good ones. If all I ever received were 5-star reviews, my mind would quickly discount them as people "just being nice." But when I am forced to see that people will, in fact, be readily (*coughs*) less than nice about their feelings, it allows me to accept the positives better, and, to some extent, to remind myself not to "own" either. Does that make sense? It is, however, always hard to deal with really mean reviews. Those are another story altogether. Luckily, there's a really fun series by authorMarc T. Nobleman where we authors get a chance to read our mean reviews loud and proudly (I'm somewhere in episodes 4 -6) which helps us to blow off some steam. ;)

5. I hear it was made into not-such-a-great movie. Don't let this sway you! The writing is simply brilliant!

1 comment:

  1. I am a sporadic reader. I have about 6 books going: some on eReaders, a couple audio, and then print, too. It is like friends, all kinds and different sizes make life more interesting. I don't have MUSt books. What clicks for me so often doesn't for someone else that I just tell people if I liked something or not and then why.

    I'm looking forward to reading about Frankie Sky and the questions that surround him.