When I wrote Secrets & Deceptions: A Three-Generation Mystery, I wasn’t planning on publishing it. When I decided to publish it, I wasn’t planning on promoting it. I ended up doing all of these. I am not naive nor do I believe I wrote the great American novel. I knew I would get bad reviews as well as positive ones. I have been lucky until today in that most of the negative reviews the book received were not done publicly. I saw my first one on Goodreads and wanted to write the reader back and defend my choices. Wisely, I read what Goodreads tells authors to do about negative reviews. “Don’t respond.”
One of my closest friends gave me feedback about “showing vs. telling” in a novel. About how the last part of the novel had more “telling” than “showing.” I had a chance to respond to her. Here is what I told her:
- I knew I did that. By the last section of the book, I realized if I continued to use the level of detail I used in the first parts of the book, the book would have been 200 pages longer. That for financial and self-publishing reasons, I couldn’t add another 200 pages.
- I knew I had a message I wanted to share, and I chose to do it the way I did so I could include the entire message in one book. At the expense of breaking “English literature rules”. (Re: Holocaust survivors, unwed mothers, women’s issues, discrimination, and minorities to name a few)
- One reader couldn’t understand why I had so many short chapters in the book. Another reader said she was glad I had both short and long chapters. For her, it helped keep the pace flowing and made it more interesting. These two comments cancel each other out. If you are interested in why I did it, it was because those short chapters were significant enough to me for them to be self-contained and not blended into additional paragraphs.
- I had learned, through the 2 years process I had already completed, what I didn’t know more than I do know about writing, editing, publishing, and promoting a novel.When you do all these tasks yourself, you can’t do them all well.
- I have more to learn about writing a novel vs. non-fiction books. I plan to do that.
- I have to write another novel to redeem myself. Not just for the reviewers but for myself because I think I can.
So, dear reader, take pity on me. Be honest about your reactions to the book, but try to be understanding. Send your critiques to me (firstname.lastname@example.org). I want to see/hear them. Give me the benefit of the doubt when you review the novel on-line. Your reviews make or break me. Don’t lie, but remember, my fate is in your hands.