Author Guest Post: Janice Hardy

Monday, October 18, 2010 |
Janice Hardy

Books (YA):
  • The Shifter
  • Blue Fire

A long-time fantasy reader, Janice Hardy always wondered about the darker side of healing. For her fantasy trilogy THE HEALING WARS, she tapped into her own dark side to create a world where healing was dangerous, and those with the best intentions often made the worst choices. Her books include THE SHIFTER, and BLUE FIRE from Balzer+Bray/Harper Collins. She lives in Georgia with her husband, three cats and one very nervous freshwater eel.

Part fugitive, part hero, fifteen-year-old Nya is barely staying ahead of the Duke of Baseer’s trackers. Wanted for a crime she didn’t mean to commit, she risks capture to protect every Taker she can find, determined to prevent the Duke from using them in his fiendish experiments. But resolve isn’t enough to protect any of them, and Nya soon realizes that the only way to keep them all out of the Duke’s clutches is to flee Geveg. Unfortunately, the Duke’s best tracker has other ideas. Nya finds herself trapped in the last place she ever wanted to be, forced to trust the last people she ever thought she could. More is at stake than just the people of Geveg, and the closer she gets to uncovering the Duke’s plan, the more she discovers how critical she is to his victory. To save Geveg, she just might have to save Baseer—if she doesn’t destroy it first.

They’re Just Not That Into You

A common question I get asked at events is, how do I handle negative reviews? Sometimes it’s asked matter-of-factly, other times with this look of dread in the asker’s eyes (I can tell right there they’re writers, too). Do I respond? Do I cry? Do I get mad? Do I change my writing to fix what they said? How do I possibly go on?

I’ve been pretty lucky so far in that most of the review of my two books (The Shifter, and Blue Fire) have been positive. Even the reviewers who didn’t like it had some positive things to say (a sign of a good reviewer in my book). There have only been a few that were downright nasty. But this holds true of every book out there, even the ones with hundreds of five-star ratings. Be kinda silly for me to expect different treatment, wouldn’t it?

Do I respond? I haven’t yet, though sometimes I’m tempted to say thanks for trying, and it’s a shame it wasn’t for them. But I’m never sure how that might come across, so I stay silent. I’ve never been tempted to say more than that, though, because everyone really is entitled to their opinion. And just because that person didn’t like my book, that doesn’t mean it’s bad or that no one will like it.

Do I cry? No tears, but there have been a few that hurt. It wasn’t so much the review that got me, but the comments after where people said they’d seen the book and were thinking about buying it because it looked good, then changed their minds now that they read this review. Those really stung. But then I told myself that if these people liked the same kinds of book as the reviewer, and the reviewer was usually spot on in their tastes, then my book probably wasn’t for them. Had they read it, it might have generated another bad review somewhere.

Do I get mad? Nah. There’s really no point, and it’s a waste of energy. Even though a bad review can feel personal, it really isn’t. They’re not attacking me, they just didn’t like my book. And that’s okay, because I don’t expect everyone to like my book. Naturally, I hope most folks do, and I hope folks are willing to give it a try, but everyone has their own tastes.

Do I change my writing to fix what they said? Sometimes, but only if it’s a comment I see in a lot of reviews, and I think they’re right. I look at reviews as another way to gain valuable reader feedback. If I’m doing something that hurts the book even a little, then it might be something I want to address in my writing. My goal as a writer is to entertain readers, and understanding what entertains them helps me do my job a lot easier. And hopefully, a lot better. While I won’t change something to appease one reviewer when hundreds more liked what I did, I have found things in bad reviews that I agreed I could have done better. I tried to improve on that in my next book.

How do I possibly go on? By developing a thick skin, and understanding that my books are products, and people are going to have every opinion about them there is. Not every book is for everybody, and that’s a good thing, because it gives us an enormous variety of stories to choose from. Besides, personal taste has zero bearing on the talent of the writer or the quality of the book. There are bestsellers out there that I couldn’t get past the first chapter, and books than others panned I adored. Entertainment is subjective, as is art, and books are both. The goal is the get the books into the hands of those who like your kind of book. And reviews can be good way to do that.

I give kudos to reviewers, because I imagine it has to be a bit nerve-wracking to write about someone’s work, especially if you have some criticisms. Will they be upset? Will they comment? Will they say bad things in return? But as an author and a lover of books, I enjoy discovering new books and seeing other readers discover mine. So I really can’t get too upset about what’s said about my work.

’Cause after all, at least they’re talking about me, right?
Thanks so much to Janice for stopping by!


yllektra (force-oblique) said...

Thanks for hosting this interview.
It was really interesting to read and wow.
Reviewers should be discreet imo. Of course, you cannot like all books, but even if you don't like one, you can always find positive things about it!

Natalie Aguirre said...

That's a great attitude toward negative reviews. It probably wouldn't do any good to say anything. And you're right, opinions on what makes a book good are so subjective. I'm glad most of your reviews have been positive.

Janice Hardy said...

Thanks! I think the submission process really prepares writers for reviews. All those rejections toughen you up so you learn to separate yourself from the work.

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