It's the moment every writer holds their breath for... they spend countless hours pouring their heart and soul into writing a story, trying to find every single free moment to dedicate towards it. They finally publish it, and then you wait... wait for other people to read it and for the reviews to come pouring in. Or trickle in, as in my case, which was bound to happen since I self-published and am trying to figure my way around the marketing world.
It's been quite an interesting ride with the few reviews I've received so far from people I don't know, except through Goodreads.com connecting us. It definitely shows the reason why so many different books are written: they can appeal to different people in various ways.
Again, with the limited review numbers I have to work with here, my research on this isn't vast by any means, but I'm noticing a trend between each star rating thus far.
Let me also preface this by saying that I know my book is by no means perfect. And by book, I'm focusing specifically on The Remedy Files: Illusion since that's the one I've been trying to market the most. That was a tough book to write, starting it over 5 years ago where I completed the beginning, middle, and end with some filler parts... then trying to pick it up 4 1/2 years later to officially finish it. It was difficult to connect everything after sitting untouched for so long. I can edit it as much as I possibly can, I've had a few other people try to edit it, but things are still going to be missed because we are not professional editors, and I, as the author, am so invested in it that I tend to look over grammatical issues.
So, yes, there could be some improvements and I will be the first to recognize that and completely agree with anyone else who points that out. Now, moving on to the other details of the reviews, and my data so far.
5 Star Ratings: These are the people that I've been so blown away with. As they're recapping my story, and throwing in their own theories, I'm just "wowed"... in fact, when I received one of the first ones, I remember thinking, "Oh geez, I'm being too predictable. She totally sees through everything I'm planning." But then as other reviews came in, I realized it wasn't me being predictable, these 5 star raters just "get it".... they get my vision, they get the underlying themes I'm throwing in there, they get me and my writing... which is absolutely incredible. To feel that connection with a total stranger who has read your story is one of the best feelings in the world.
4 Star Ratings: Another group that I'm "wowed" by every time I read their review. I almost grouped this one with the 5 Star ratings, but there is a very slight (incredibly minor) distinction. They are 95% there with "getting it", but aren't 100% aligned with it. I'm a believer that most of this group will bump up to the 5 star raters when they get the sequel and have some light shed on some of their theories. I also have respect for this group because I know some people hold their 5 star ratings to the books that have ultimately changed their life; but again, I feel like if people fully understand all the underlying themes, it has the potential to do that. It's always going to be a preference thing, which is why there's diversity in books, and much needed to have the difference in opinions.
3 Star Ratings: I completely get that these are still good ratings so I'm not knocking them by any means. But the definite trend I've noticed is their theories about the book are off by quite a bit. They aren't seeing the whole picture as I wanted it to be seen by them. I'll describe what I mean by that a bit more below.
2 & 1 Star Ratings: I haven't had any yet, I'm sure they're bound to come in; but for now, I don't have any data to go off. What I enjoy about using Goodreads.com as a way to connect with reviewers is that ALL of these people really appreciate the power of writing, and reading stories from people who have poured themselves into it. When I read 1 star reviews on Amazon for other books, I get so frustrated because people have no clue what it takes to put yourself out for the entire world to criticize. It is one of the MOST vulnerable actions you can ever take in your life. There are people who will say awful things about the book, not once taking into consideration that this is someone's dream that they're bashing for really poor, not even well-thought out reasons. Again, to me that's the big difference with Goodreads.com... it's a community of people who understand the reading/writing world, which makes it really special.
Okay, on to my continuation with 3 Star Ratings... When those come in, it's really hard to not send an email back to the person correcting them on all their assumptions. I mean, REALLY hard. Because you want people to get it. But it's like any work of art: a hundred people could look at a masterpiece and have a hundred different perspectives on it. Even if none of them hit on the artist's intent, you just have to let it be. Because they can still appreciate the artwork, even if they don't completely understand it, and appreciation can go a long ways. With these reviews, people are taking the time out of their lives to read your story, and give a detailed write-up of it. That is special in itself because they never had to agree to take the time to do that.
I know if they choose to read the sequel, they will see their theories about the first one were off, so I have to be patient in that. In the meantime, though, I thought I would take it to my blog to talk about some of these things as I'm sure other authors can relate.
1) Unoriginal Ideas: One of the most hurtful things anyone can ever tell a writer is that their ideas are unoriginal. Granted, there are some writers who are purposely doing spin-offs of other types of books (like fairy tales); but for the most part, authors truly feel as though their ideas are fresh, otherwise they wouldn't spend that amount of time investing in it. I've heard my story is like "Matched"... which, I refuse to even look up what that book is about because I don't want to be linked to it in any way. I've never read it before, so if details of my story align with that one, it's a coincidence. I can't say in the 5 years that The Remedy Files has been in my head, I've ever thought "oh, I'm going to pull from this and bring it into my story." Writing doesn't work that way. So for one reviewer to say, "there's no way it can be a coincidence", let me tell you, that's all it is. Additionally, my story was started 5 years ago... before so many of these other ones were even created. I can't tell you how many times I wished I had just completed it when I started it. I can guarantee you these sort of comments wouldn't have occurred because it would have been before the dystopian craze, which is probably why I'm so sensitive to them: I'm mad at myself for not pushing this out 5 years ago.
2) The Giver: I will deny my book has any influence by any other dystopian book... except The Giver. That has been my favorite book since I was 9 years old. Every musical artist has a musical influence; most writers have been influenced by other writers. The Giver changed my life and had me thinking about alternate societies for most of my life, so I can't deny its influence in my ideas for The Remedy Files because it was bound to happen when you have a favorite book. I never purposely took ideas from it, though, and still don't feel like I did. However, to say that my book had similar themes to The Giver movie?? No, definitely no. My book had the themes it did prior to that movie ever coming out. Additionally, I had received three other critiques in relating it to The Giver:
The use of "community" when naming Impetus. Impetus is the name of the community, not "the community." Sometimes Impetus was referred to as the community because it was a way of using a different term than Impetus a hundred times in the story; similar to using "she" instead of "Evie" to switch things up. Impetus isn't a town or a city, so I couldn't use those... a community is what came natural because it sounds more cohesive and collaborative than any other word to describe a place where multiple people live.
Impetus will kill anyone who rebels, like The Giver movie: ***WARNING: SPOILER ALERT*** Here's one of the things readers will find out in the sequel, but here's a glimpse... Impetus is not trying to kill its people who rebel. There's a small group of rebels within Impetus who are trying to take over. That's all I'm going to say for now, but I wanted to clarify again, the reason why my book is not like that.
Evangeline, like Jonas, has atypical eyes: She's not the only one that has those, so it has nothing to do with just the lead character; it has to do with.... ***ANOTHER SPOILER ALERT*** the effects of Remedy.
3) Jacqueline: One of the things that set the 4 & 5 Star Ratings apart from the 3 Star Ratings was the people who recognized the importance of Jacqueline's role in the story. She is/was Evie's best friend. And yes, Evie tried to rescue her and Jacqueline refused. But who was "wrong" in that rescue attempt? The underlying theme in that scene is about the difference in people's beliefs. As a society, we tend to think our individual belief is the only "right way" and we have a hard time understanding why other people don't see things from our perspective. Throughout the story, Jacqueline was a full believer in Impetus. There was a very important line she shared with Evie.... ***SPOILER ALERT***: some truths were revealed to her in her training to be the next Doctor. (That will be explored in the sequel more.) Even with more knowledge given to her, she still chose to hold on to her beliefs that Impetus was a society with good intentions, and she stuck by that.
4) Gavin: Some people don't like his mystery, other people can relate to the dark secrets he has to keep in order to protect the one(s) he loves. That's what it comes down to, Gavin is a natural Protector. Those kind of people have to carry a lot of burdens to protect others. Right now, he is caught between 3 different worlds. The sequel will take you all through his journey a bit more, but he is a mystery because he has to be... he was given that role... and it forces him to make sacrifices. I can't give away much else, but there's a reason behind it all and some tend to understand it because they've had similar people (or are those people themselves) in roles like that.
5) The Love Triangle: I knew when writing this, that it would come up. Some people would love it, others would hate it. There's a love triangle here, but it's not the one that people tend to see right away, which I'll address here momentarily.
Evie & Gavin: I've had a couple of people knock the intensity of the love/hate with Evie and Gavin, and my question for them is whether or not they've ever felt true restricted passion before... passion where you want to do something so badly about it, but there are too many other factors that keep you restrained from acting on it like you want to. It's a very intense relationship where there are two people magnetically drawn to each other on deeper levels (emotionally, mentally, physically), fighting internally and externally on how to cope with that because they are still trying to figure out lines that have been drawn between them since they first met twelve years ago. It's like that glass box keeping them apart and they can't break through it to get to each other.
Evie & Liam: This has been referred to as "insta-love" which is "hardly believable". When I hear this, I want to ask readers to take a step back and remember the story as a whole. Evie is a young woman, eighteen years old. She has had repressed feelings since she was born, which means skipping out on the slow journey and understanding of all the emotions that hit us from a very young age. We all know the hormonal adjustment is a big part of life throughout our teenage years. Here comes an extremely attractive man that she has never met before, and when she physically touches him, that's when things completely change for her. So, is it love or is it simply attraction that two people are experiencing for the very first time with never being "allowed" to feel that way before? And if it's not love now, will it eventually grow into love? I'm posing those two questions so I don't give too much away, but I want people to remember the entire story before framing their relationship as "insta-love".
Other Triangles: When we talk "love", I'm a firm believer in that word usage... so is the love triangle between Gavin-Evie-Liam? Or is it between Marlena-Gavin-Evie? And don't forget, the people of Impetus still very much exist and will play an important role in the sequel... there's Jacqueline, Caroline, Ethan, Ms. Kay, the unknown conspirators of Impetus, and even the memory of Mr. Frank who all come back in surprising ways. So yes, there is a love triangle, but it's not the one most people seem to see right away. (Or maybe there are multiple... I just love to throw out more possibilities to you all.)
Again, many of these things I don't make clear for a reason: This is Evangeline's journey. She doesn't understand it all yet, so why should I clue the reader in on it? There are underlying themes for a reason, and again why it's so exciting when someone is able to tune into it and pick up on all those tiny factors.
I appreciate every single person who has read this story so far. Being able to see a dream I've had since I was 6 years old come into fruition is a beautiful thing. Everyone who has taken the time to read it and comment, no matter the difference in views and opinions, is incredible and mean the world to me.
Until next time...