|Hello? Anyone out there? Does anyone care?|
Let me tell you an author secret. Every author checks reviews, and comments, and feedback, be it on Amazon or the local paper. It's in our fiber. Of course authors lie about this (I'm an exception. I'm always outting myself on verboten subjects like this, crossing the picket line of author secrecy), but with one another, we dish. We have license to cry and whine, talk smack about reviewer so-and-so who doesn't know a thing about character development, but has written a novella on the 'author motivations' behind a protagonist.
This leads me to another misconception. Authors (and song-writers) don't have feelings. That's an oxymoron isn't it? I mean, if we didn't, how could we think this stuff up? But seriously, all indications point to this strange phenomena called reader denial, as though I'm not a person. Just yesterday, another friend told me that "readers thing authors have no feelings." Okay. True, the ice-queen cometh does ring a bell, and when it comes to 'business' topics, I do score a zero on the Myers-Briggs test (which, if you take it, is superbly enlightening and scary at the same time, or the Jung test), but on the writing side, it's all personal. 100%. I created it, I take ownership. Thus, I suppose I'm really fortunate people have either liked my fiction work enough not to scald it to oblivion, or, as I suspect, they know I'd deep-six myself if I got a one-star rating. (Of course, the third and worst scenario is the reader simply doesn't care enough to respond. That's true failure.)
I'm in the process of making a good manuscript great, by going line by line, page to page, enriching the details. The first version put down the tracks, and was good enough for the movie script. My gut told me that it lacked the richness (the only word I can think of) to make the reader feel truly satisfied. Here's the eternal writer dilemma.
Review readers. I have none. Rog's talent for reading books ended the last day of grad school. It's beyond uncomfortable for me to ask women I know to read my books. When I put a call out for women to read my last manuscript, an authorized biography of a casino boss and showgirl, (which is not fiction, granted, but still a compelling story), nine women offered, four completed the book (2 are apparently still in progress) but only 3 provided feedback. This time around, I've got a really cool time-travel, sci-fi book written in an 18-yr old male character voice, replete with lots of action, martial arts and romance thrown in, and nada. Not one response, from anyone. I'm not sure how to take this lack of feedback. As Rog says, "the silence is defeaning." Indeed.
Three books ago, I searched out a chat room on Yahoo!, comprised of women who read "female genre," novels. I'm an author, and I'm still fuzzy on what that actually means. Is that boudaire-lounging erotica, "chick-lit" or some breed of homogenous fluff with bodice-ripping covers, the only pre-requisite long-haired, bare-chested male on the cover? Regardless, I had women from as far away as Australia and beyond respond. 30 electronic versions of the manuscript were sent, over 80% of the readers responded with incredibly thoughtful, helpful feedback. It was amazing. It sent me a clear signal complete strangers were quite helpful, insightful and lacked the concern that accompanies "knowing the author."
As I'm going through this real time, and soon, in another month, will face it again with a true, adult suspense-romance, I think I'll go distant again. Hit up my new friends in the Eastern and Asian fronts. They won't spare my feelings, because as we all know, us writer's don't have any.