Monday, July 9, 2012

Nerves, for the first time in years

I don't get nervous. I don't get rattled, either. When that idiot/not idiot intentionally crashed into us, then rammed his car into a building, I felt cool as a cucumber the entire time. Didn't get the adrenaline rush I'd been expecting, nor any swings in emotion.  Likewise, I can get up and speak to a bunch of strangers in court with no hint of nerves, just a vague tingle of excitement.  Basically, cucumber.

And no, I'm not a sociopath (while scary things don't bug me, I can't watch Schindler's List-type movies for fear of blubbing like a baby).

Today, however, I was paralyzed with fear. There I was, at the collision center turning over my vehicle for repair after the above-mentioned accident, when I was confronted by something I knew I'd one day have to face.

A review.

Yes, a professional reviewer had read and passed judgment on my book. My publisher forward a link to the review in an email but I couldn't bring myself to read it. Publishers Weekly is the organ, and whoever wrote the review doesn't know me or care one jot for my feelings. Reviews, after all, are for readers not writers.

And that's what scared me. If you know me, you like me, right? And if you like me, you'll say nice things about my book - even if you're not wild about it. Right?! But a stranger? Whose job it is to analyze books?

I called my wife and made her read it first.

As with any good story, all's well that ends well. The best bit is that the reviewer liked my main character, which is key when a series is on the cards. Here's the full review (and yes, it's favorable. Think I'd link to it if it wasn't?!).

Trouble is, this is just the beginning. I suspect every time I see a review of my book, I'll be reduced from my usual state of manliness to a weak and insecure quivering wreck. But so far so good - if the other ones aren't as favorable, I can always come back to Publishers Weekly's words. After all, everyone knows they are clearly gifted, talented, and downright geniuses when it comes to reviewing mysteries. . .


  1. Great news and a good review! Congrats, Mark.

  2. I look forward to quivering when my time comes. :) I'm so happy it was favorable! Yay! I'm sure you'll get many favorable reviews. Woo hoo!

  3. Thanks to you both. :) And Lisa, your time will come...!

  4. WAY. TO. GO. :)

    And no, we must never, ever link to unfavorable reviews! Rule of thumb, haha.

  5. Much Ado About Nothing, huh? :)


  6. Congratulations, Mark. I think the PW reviewers can be savage, so getting a good write up from one of them is POSITIVELY STUNNING! Well deserved.

    I wouldn't presume to offer advice on handling reviews, but this worked for me: when the reviews start rolling in, read them all. The more you read, the less you'll believe them (whether favorable or not) and focus on what you can control, which is your writing.

    By all means, though, save the good ones to re-read when you're staring at the computer screen with your mouth open, trying to think of something to write while your deadline approaches.

  7. Carol - like you got any bad reviews, whatever. ;) But thanks, I guess I should be more than just relieved, the fact they liked Hugo is awesome. And that's a great idea about future reviews, I'd not thought about approaching it that way. Merci!

  8. Mark, I assume you first got down on your knees and thanked The Stars for your agent and publicist who managed to get PW to even open the book cover? Then, when you got up, you jumped into a victory dance? Surely. Congratulations, and here's to many more positive reviews.

  9. Thanks Terri. I think it must have been my editor who got it into their hands. I wonder if I'll be as nervous about future reviews? I'm guessing I will...! Thanks again. :)


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