Well, Rosy Hours' blog tour began today. It's the first time I've been on one of these, and I must say it's nerve-racking.
A blog tour is where your publisher sends out advanced reading copies to book bloggers, and they post their honest reviews of your work on their website. As with normal reviews, you've never met the reviewers and they have a developed sense of what they like and don't like. The difference being that their review is the only one on display. If they hate it, there's no positive reviews to even out the rating.
All you can do is sit back and wait for opinions to roll in.
Auspiciously, Rosy Hours has thirteen chapters, and thirteen blogs have signed up to review it!
So far most of the advanced reviews have been good, some have been stunning, and a couple underwhelmed. It's a tricky book, firstly because it's based on a classic novel that already has a cult following, and cult followers always have a strong sense of ownership over the original characters, and secondly because it's very dark. When you send out ARCs, you don't know whether the person who is going to read it likes dark books. If they prefer RomComs and feel-good literature, they're unlikely to give it a thumbs-up.
I am nervous, of course I am. Anybody who's poured six months of typing and almost a year of pre-production angst into something is bound to hold their breath. I hope people will like it, I know some - my publisher included - already do. But I don't mind too much if it gets a few duff reviews.
I don't mind because I know it's good work. If people don't like it, it's likely to be down to the genre, or failing to meet preconceived expectations about how the characters would look or behave. It won't be because the prose are poor quality or the product looks shabby. Ghostwoods have done a truly incredible job.
This is my best foot forward.
I do read reviews of my work, though I'm selective about what I take to heart. It's always amusing to find a literary review by a reviewer with less than a rudimentary grip on grammar. It's also entertaining to see the 'Hell, no!' reviews. People who feel strongly opposed to something, but refuse to explain why. Thankfully, I've had very few of those in my career to date.
Like any writer, I do so love to hear nice things. There's special satisfaction in knowing your characters are well developed, or that you've managed to surprise someone. Nothing worse than being a predictable writer. There's even more pleasure in reading reviewers who overcame their aversion to the darkness in order to discover that they really loved the story.
Good literature should make you feel something, whether you love it or hate it.
I rarely feel injured by anything anybody says. I'm very much in Voltaire's camp:
I do not agree with what you have to say, but I'll defend to the death your right to say it.
I've written a few underwhelmed reviews myself in the past, though nowadays I tend to forgo comment on books I haven't enjoyed in order to focus on those I have. Somebody will love even the worst literature, so why not speak of the merits of literature strongly, that people might find what they enjoy faster?
We all have our preferences.
When it comes to criticism, if something is offered constructively, in kindness, I will listen. But, like science had proven of the teenage brain, when parental wrath opens its mouth, it falls on deaf ears. I take a very philosophical approach to reviews. For every review that states it is too dark and ugly, there are connoisseurs of dark ugliness that realise they have found what they were looking for.
Thankfully, my first ordeal by fire has passed pleasently:
I found myself at various times enchanted, revolted, horrified, relieved, exulted and most of all thankful that I’d read a book that challenged me as much as this one did.
One down, twelve to go.
You can find the rest of that review on Broken Teepee.
If you're in the US or Canada, there's also a chance to win a free copy on that blog.
I'm off to do some press-ups (who am I kidding? I've never done press-ups in my life!) and prepare for the next round.
*quiet voice* I've been advised not to share the blog tour dates in case something ghastly gets said, but here on my blog I feel in safe company. If you would like to bite your nails alongside me, the line-up is here. Celebrations and commiserations always welcomed.