I’ve been on edge for the past week or so. (Okay, some might say it’s been more like the past 20 or 30 years…so sue me!) I blame this partly on hormones…partly on the fact that FRENEMIES just came out and it is seriously tough to get any real sense of how it’s doing (so please, I beg you, stop asking!)…partly on the fact that FAKETASTIC (the second book in the series) is due in, oh, twelve days (yes, DAYS)…partly on the fact that I’m juggling a couple other magazine assignments…partly on my son’s refusal to nap or go to bed on time (amongst other toddlerisms)…and partly on the fact that I’ve been expecting FRENEMIES to get kicked to the curb by a reviewer. And not just any reviewer. A reviewer whom I respect immensely. A reviewer known simply as X.
Yeah, I blame it mostly on X. The story of the review goes a little something like this…
X and I became MySpace friends about a month ago, and I instantly fell for her blog. She’s only been doing the reviewer thing for a couple months, and has already won the respect of her peers and many, many people in the publishing industry—authors and executives (or people in fancy clothes of some sort) alike. Why? She’s observant. She pulls no punches. She gives constructive, insightful, rational reasons for why she likes or dislikes a book. She’s like the Entertainment Weekly of the YA reviewing blogosphere. Honestly. And I (perhaps foolishly) decided I wanted her to review FRENEMIES. I wanted her feedback—good, bad or indifferent. She actually seemed enthusiastic about taking a look at my work. So I sent her the book.
During the initial phase of our author-reviewer relationship, X and I developed a bit of a rapport. HOWEVER, as soon as she told me she’d received the book and had been reading it, something changed. X began speaking in generalities (e.g., “I'm like on the third chapter, so not much to tell (yet)” and “I try not to talk about my reviews until they're posted”). SCARY, right? She became, I daresay, distant. Then she dropped a real bomb—without even telling me directly. She announced on her blog that she would be posting a lot of negative reviews this week. In the same post, she said she’d be reviewing FRENEMIES. Then she kicked off the week with an “F.” (She just started doling out grades instead of numbers…I told you she’s totally EW.)
Things were not looking good. I began resigning myself to the fact that X hated my book. At first, I was defensive (wouldn’t you be?). I wanted to scream at her for not getting it—not understanding my message of BFFs gone awry, of friendship lost, of fashion-obsession gone fugly. Then I calmed down and thought—wait a minute! This is great! A reviewer I respect is going to give me some feedback! She’s going to tell me how I can improve as a writer! I should embrace this! I should also stop using exclamation points!
For the most part, I was ready for my “F.” I even told X I was looking forward to her review and that, no matter what she said, I would be grateful for any words of wisdom she had for me. I tried to convince myself that I was being honest. Deep down, though, I was terrified. What if she really hated my book—like seriously hated it? What if she caught every last inconsistency—every typo? I wondered if she’d at least give me a “C.” Then again, when you come from a family of overachievers like mine, a “C” may as well be an “F.” Suddenly, I wished I’d never sent my book to X. I wanted an "A!" Nothing else would do…
And yet, I ultimately decided I would just have to accept X’s review—whatever it was. I would subsequently pick up the jagged shards of my worthless existence and somehow move on…stronger, wiser, and with a book due in 12 days that Reviewer X would sooner use as toilet paper than reading material.
Oh, but it gets better! X emailed me this morning to say she couldn’t figure out how to say what she wanted to say nicely. Yes, NICELY. I told her to just go for it. I CAN TAKE IT! I said she didn’t have to be nice…just constructive. I told her to pretend we’d never corresponded, and that I was just another one of her random, sucky authors.
So what does she turn around and do?
She gives me an “A.”
And you know what? I’m totally not edgy anymore. Go figure. :)
PS: I promise I’ll be blogging more soon (now that I'm an X-approved author, I know you want more of me on a regular basis. Right? RIGHT?). But until then…I have to send a HUGE thanks to all the people who've posted reviews lately (Book Chic! Taylor Morris! The Story Siren! Harmony Book Reviews! The Compulsive Reader!), all the people who've requested interviews (Harmony Book Reviews! Author2Author! The First Book! The Manila Bulletin! And yes…Reviewer X!), and all the people who’ve emailed me with their FRENEMIES sightings (Trina Elerts! Melissa Walker!). I love you guys times infinity and will be less of a slacker very, very soon. PROMISE!