Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Books are like Blue Jeans



I had a pair of green jeans in high school. I thought I was pretty cool.

I think I've figured it out. When my first book first hit the shelves, I'd get very upset whenever I read a review that was, well, not so nice. It really used to hurt me that someone didn't like something I put my very heart and soul into. It's like calling your child ugly or something.

Mom jeans rocked 90210!
Since then, I've learned to let that stuff roll off my back. If it's bad, it's bad, and there's nothing you can do about it--or at least nothing you should do. You may have noticed over the last couple years, there have been several author online meltdowns, wherein an author gets a bad review on goodreads or someone's blog and takes out their anger on the reviewer and all sorts of mayhem follows. I don't need to tell you that's not a wise thing to do for several reasons, but I do get it. I understand how a writer can feel personally injured after reading a scathing review. It's never fun. 

All I can say is, wow, just wow.
So, for any of you out there who have books available to the public and have gotten bad reviews, even nasty ones, or any of you who've gotten a rejection letter or two or three or a hundred, maybe try to think of it in these terms: Books are like blue jeans. If ever there was one thing in a person's closet (male or female) that is hard to buy and open to wearer interpretation it's blue jeans. Never in my life have I tried on such similar articles of clothing and looked so bad or so good (or so ridiculous) from one pair to another. It's almost as if the jean gods are playing tricks with the mirrors. These jeans make you look hippy, these jeans make your butt look big, these jeans make you look like you have no butt, the list goes on and on. Well...books are like that too.

Yeah...never gonna happen--NEVER!
I've tried on jeans from top designers, willing to shell out the cash to get the look of jean awesomeness I'm hoping for. I've bought the exact same pair of jeans my friend looks great in, only to find out, on me, not so great. I've bought cheap jeans, vintage jeans, boys' jeans, still without much luck in the "you are rocking those jeans!" department. Okay, I'm sure by now you're starting to get my point. Books are very much like blue jeans. What I think is a top ten book, may be so utterly boring to you, you want to hurt yourself at the thought of reading it and what you think is the greatest achievement of literary genius ever written, I may think is about as exciting as forensic accounting. 

Does he know we can see his undies?
We don't all like the same things, we just don't. It's human nature. So the next time your partial manuscript gets rejected or you read a biting review about your latest middle-grade novel, don't sweat it! At least it doesn't make your butt look big! ;)

Create as though there are no Critics
Amen to that!


Thanks all!

Hilary

14 comments:

  1. "Create as though there are no critics." Love love LOVE that!!!

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    1. Yes, it's so nice, no? And I found this picture by accident! :)

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  2. Great post! Jeans are my daily attire, and I always buy the exact same style (though recently I bought a pair of black ones--felt so daring.) I think it's a good reminder that there are a lot of styles and tastes out there.

    Sidenote: yesterday I read a blog by an English mystery writer called Ben Aaronovitch who posted the one star reviews he got on his blog http://temporarilysignificant.blogspot.co.uk/2012/07/whre-scalzi-leads-i-shall-follow.html and quoted John Scalzi: One-star (and otherwise negative) reviews happen. Accept them, own them, and then move on from them.

    Kinda like what you're saying, Hilary.

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    1. I read so many horror stories lately! I don't have time for that noise. :)

      Black jeans ARE daring!! :)

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  3. It was a revelation (and a comfort) for a friend to tell me no book is for everyone. We all have preferences, and that's fine. It's kind of liberating realizing this: write to the reader you imagine will love your book, and be fearless in the process.

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    1. Yes, it is liberating. I don't take things to heart like I did when my first book came out. It's like forcing everyone to like carrots. It's just not going to happen (at least not with my son)! ;)

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  4. Great comparison!
    And I love all the vibrant colors in jeans that are in right now. I have a red and a bright royal blue pair!

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    1. I don't know that I could rock the colored jeans! I thought I was so cool in high school when I had my green ones, ha, ha! I think I could do red actually, but that have to be boot cut! No skinny jeans for this girl! ;)

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  5. Such a different comparison. But so true. And everyone is different in their likes and dislikes and this affects the reviews. Great advice to not respond.

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    1. Yes, JUST SAY NO! What doesn't kill us only makes us better writers! ;)

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  6. I remember in high school (man I'm old) when Girbaud jeans were all the rage. I wanted a pair so bad, but my parents wouldn't allow it. It doesn't really fit in with your awesome analogy that well, but hey, it's what came to mind.

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    1. Did you wear pleated jeans???? ;)

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  7. I'm sure your green jeans were cool! I had some purple ones in middle school and I did get compliments on them.

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    1. They were like this bizarre seaweed muddy green. I think I was the ONLY one who thought they were cool! Ha, ha! Purple would be fun! ;)

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Thanks for adding to the mayhem!