I have a confession to make: my YA novel, Season of Lies, has a fake review on Amazon. It was created by someone who didn’t read the book and was posted for the sole purpose of making me look good. And I couldn’t be prouder to admit it.
That review, folks, was from my daughter.
As a grade-schooler, she isn’t allowed to read mommy’s “older stuff.” But, without my knowledge, she spent her hard-earned money, I repeat, her own money, to buy my books (both of them). As anyone knows, kids are pretty stingy with their allowance, especially when what they receive on a weekly basis barely amounts to a couple of lattes at Starbucks. She then left the following comment, again, without my knowledge, which you can read here. Yes, it’s a bit over the top, but it means the world to me.
You see, I’ve been at this business of writing for years with precious little to show for it. Sure, I’ve got a few items in the win column, but overall, I’m sitting on the runway, waiting for take-off. My family has watched me go through all of it: hundreds of rejections letters from editors and agents, crushing critiques, gut-wrenching near-misses, failed contracts, conference leads that turn to dust, and the numbing ambivalence that pervades the industry. Let’s face it, writing is one of the few professions where you can do everything right and still fail.
I used to fall asleep every night with a clear vision of waking up to a six-figure deal. A few years later, this dream was replaced by a more down-to-earth one in which I received a modest, but fair contract from a small publisher. More recently, I envisioned building a self-published empire. Now? I turn out the lights, shut my eyes, and fall asleep. I still may build that empire or snag that contract, but I no longer dream of the day when that will happen. I can’t. I’ve wasted too many on such pursuits.
My pessimistic side wonders if I’ll ever gain success (my version of it) when both sides of the street are equally perilous. Self-publishing is a flat-out popularity contest, where good writing takes a back seat to stump thumping, and traditional publishing is collapsing into a smaller, tighter singularity, where breaking in will be that much harder.
Then my daughter plunks down $3.99 for my book and leaves a glowing review for the world to see, a review that lets me know how proud she is of me. This, this is enough to raise my optimism and keep me going for just one. more. day.