Writers are an insecure bunch, at least going from my admittedly-small sample group. Why? Because if a writer is lucky he will have a writing-group able to help him with style and such, and a few alpha and beta-readers (usually friends unless he’s got an agent and an editor), to help him catch the serious problems and give constructive feedback and suggestions. But then, when his book is out there and there’s no taking it back, the complete strangers who don’t know him from Adam get their chance to say something about it. They already know what they like, and will they care that the book they just put down money on is the child of someone’s magnificent obsession, the carrier of his dreams? In a word, no. Nor should they. If it’s no good, it’s no good, so the fate of many a dream-child is…
The Grave of the Unsuccessful Novel
So how does an indie-writer like me know if his brainchild hasn’t gone bravely out to die? How does he know when he’s “succeeding” since the first two benchmarks of achievement (acquiring an agent and selling his book to a publisher) are missing, and the third, sales, take forever to start coming since first people have to notice the book is even out there?
Reviews. Out there in the blogosphere are avid readers willing to risk a few hours on something new, and perfectly happy to tell the world exactly what they think. Find them and cherish them; they may be the only impartial readers your book will get. And the source is as important as the opinion. Taking Wearing the Cape as an example, so far it is maintaining a 4.5-star Amazon rating–but till today it had only been reviewed from the perspective of avid readers of Urban Fantasy or Young Adult literature. Good responses so far, but how many readers are willing to turn away from their vampires, witches, werewolves, fairies, and fallen angels to take a chance on superheroes? In short, my insecurities remain.
But today Wearing the Cape has received its first comic-book industry review, from a website that specializes in news and reviews for all things superhero. I speak of ComicAttack.net, the labor of love of people who eat, drink, sleep, and breath comic books.
Needless to say, I have been awaiting this review with (insert cliche here). And the results are…not bad. Not a You Have Got To Read This Book! review; more of a This Is A Fun And Interesting Read, And If You Don’t Mind Getting Your Superheroes Outside the Four-Color Comic Panel Then You Should Buy It kind of review. You can read it here.
Me? I’m doing the Snoopy Dance; someone who reads comics for kicks thought the book didn’t stink on ice. And there are a lot of superhero fans out there (Hollywood knows this). So maybe, just maybe, my child has an audience and will live.