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Guest Post by Emery Lord: Why Not Everyone Loves Your Book and That’s Okay

Subtitle: The most overwrought theme park analogy of all time—buckle up, everyone!

 Ella Enchanted is my favorite book. So the first time I looked at it on Goodreads, I was shocked to find 1-star reviews. 1700 1-star reviews. People who said they couldn’t even finish it?! I have finished it at least once a year since I was twelve!

We hear the word “subjectivity” over and over in the publishing industry—that single-word reason why not everyone will love your book. Opinions are different because people (subjects, if you will) are different. Of course they are. But how do we keep from taking that personally? From letting that discourage us?

Consider the YA publishing industry as a massive theme park. (Incidentally, let’s build an actual YA theme park.) You, as a writer, can build a truly awesome roller coaster. But if a reader (/agent/editor) had their heart set on a water ride or the bumper cars? They probably won’t love it. Or maybe they already rode a great roller coaster every day this week. How does that affect their feelings about yours today? (Also known as: “I hated every book I tried to read after TFiOS” syndrome.) Maybe an agent or editor loves roller coasters, but they already have three somewhat similar ones in their theme park. Some people might love your ride if they tried it, but they are sure they won’t like it. (People who think they don’t like certain genres.)

There’s this Forster quote: “Fantasy asks you to pay something extra.” I’m interested in the assumption of the statement: that all books ask you to pay something. By my estimation, we give up: money (unless it’s a gift/ARC/borrowed from a friend or the library), some amount of time, and some amount of imagination. What else might we “pay?” Academic difficulty, extra time cutting through dense narrative, maybe subject matter that isn’t necessarily our favorite, etc.

Thus,


This is an equation made up of all variables. There is not a single constant. I’m no math genius, but that makes for a pretty impossible-to-predict outcome. I personally love inventive language—that is something I feel I get out of an experience (right side of the equation). Other people feel that inventive language makes them “pay” extra…it’s a nuisance to cut through purple prose (left side). And you know what? Nobody is wrong in this scenario!

Put another way, we can’t be the roller coaster and the water slide and the bumper cars. And, so: we build our ride all the same. We lay foundation, we toil, we sweat, we rise. Some riders emerge woo-hooing, others shrugging, and others still: scowling. There’s nothing wrong with your particular brand of thrill, and there’s nothing personal with readers preferring another experience.

Here’s the best part: when you’re already next door working on your newest roller coaster, you can’t even see the shrugs or scowls. So you smile when you hear the occasional woo-hoo. And you keep building.

**

Emery Lord in Cincinnati, Ohio, with one husband, two rescue dogs, and all her favorite books. Her first novel, OPEN ROAD SUMMER, is out April 15, 2014 from Walker BFYR.

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2 comments:

  1. This is the second post I've read today on handling bad reviews or how different people feel about the same book. Great post. I'm working on my roller coaster and trying to make it the best one I can, but, if a reader was hoping for bumper cars, they're going to be disappointed.:)
    Best of luck on your debut!

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  2. I think that's the biggest lesson I can take from blogging. There is no amazing, perfect book that everyone enjoys. There's never one opinion, so not everyone will always like your book... but not everyone will hate it either.

    -P.E. @ The Sirenic Codex

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Item Reviewed: Guest Post by Emery Lord: Why Not Everyone Loves Your Book and That’s Okay Rating: 5 Reviewed By: YA Highway