Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Contest entries and hurt feelings

And here we are, eleven days before the finalists for the Rita are announced.

Honestly, I love my book, The Indispensable Wife, but do I really think it will be a finalist for Short Historical (40K to 89K words) in the Ritas? No, especially considering the big names in the business who entered the same category, plus some smaller names who are more genius-y than I am and/or who have better books. But I have a vivid imagination and have tried to think what my reaction would be if I got that call on March 26th.

Buckets of happy tears. 

Heart attack.

And anyway, I now have five more readers than I had before, right? OK, so I had to pay for the contest entry, pay for the books, and ship them over. And they're supposed to keep it secret that they read my book, so even if they loved it, they can't go around trumpeting the fact. I followed one of the authors on social media and commented on how much I loved it. I try to tell all authors when I love their work, not because I'm sucking up to them, but because I know they probably don't get to hear it as often as they need.

I've also entered another contest for published romance....and I can't even remember which one. I think finalists are announced later in the summer? Ah here it is: late April.

There aren't a lot of contests for already-published romance novels, while there are a jillion for unpublished. Contests are one path on the way to publication that have been successful for many authors in getting feedback and finding an agent.

I entered some a few years ago. I even finaled in one! And then I read the feedback I had from the judges and wondered how on Earth I finaled, because they don't seem to have been reading my book and/or to have liked it AT ALL. Apparently, though, some people are going more quickly to self-publishing when all the contests and queries and such don't work out, so the contests aren't as hotly contested.

Anyway, my feelings won't be hurt if I don't final in the Ritas. But wouldn't it be a huge boost if I did? Other than that heart attack thing.

But what does hurt my feelings? I'm trying to not stew over comments from someone about how they would never buy a certain one of my books because they don't like *certain elements in it* and they suppose that readers who like historical romance and *that sort of thing* might like it (but obviously this reader is much more sophisticated. And I don't think she read the copy of the MS I gave her). Such a ringing endorsement!

And since I've trusted this person's opinion in the past, yes, it hurt my feelings. And yes, I threw away the thing she wrote, because really? Not worth keeping. I'm obsessing enough over it as it is.

I'm the newsletter editor for my local chapter of RWA and the topic I tossed out, asking for articles for next time, is BRAVERY. As usual for me, I don't have a plan to write an article myself. I'm not very brave.

But it hurts my delicate feelings to spend hours on the newsletter and then have people asking questions that are on the front page of my newsletter. But I keep doing it anyway.

And bad book reviews hurt. You pour out your deep thoughts (and less-deep ones) and spend hours and hours editing and refining and working on it, then...blah. My first bad one was on my contemporary ghost story Christmas novella and all it said was, "I don't like ghost stories." So I wonder if the reviewer even bought the story. And if so, why did s/he buy it? Was s/he reviewing based on the back cover copy? Seriously?

I don't have a lot of experience with reviews at all, never mind bad ones. I'd like it if people read my books and left reviews of all sorts, of course, and I'll try to not obsess over the bad ones. Though since I clearly remember the ghost story review from three years ago, I guess that might not be possible.

As Dumbledore said:

“Really Hagrid, if you are holding out for universal popularity, I'm afraid you will be in this cabin for a very long time”


  1. I read my first one star. Well, I didn't actually read it, as much as see the animated GIFs. I remember attending a workshop on reviews and how bad reviews actually sell books. So I'm waiting for the money to come rolling in. Why is it that you skim the great reviews, are almost embarrassed by them, yet we take the bad reviews to heart. We should do the opposite. Relish the good reviews, even memorize them so we can quote them years later.

    1. Absolutely! But I think it's true of most people that we take the criticism to heart and stay more modest when praised.

      Unlike certain actors, etc who start to believe their own hype and live in a weird bubble of "I'm awesome, I'm perfect, worship me."