Deflecting/Accepting Criticism

THERE HAVE BEEN MANY TIMES since the publication of my first book, fifteen months ago, that I’ve received feedback about my stories.

That has ranged from the almost orgasmic (“wonderful, evocative writing that haunted me upon finishing it.“) to the downright disgusted (“blasphemy…offensive to God.“).

Anyone that opens up a vein and commits pen to virtual paper will leave themselves open to judgement. Bloggers receive praise or scorn for the articles they write, but that’s usually skewed heavily in the positive in the hope for a gain/follow or interaction.

The (thankfully) rare harsh comments that find their way to me, I manage to shrug off. You can please some people some of the time, but you can’t please everybody all the time.

I’m my own worst critic and continually strive to bring my little creations to the public’s attention, dressed in their Sunday finest, hair combed, back ramrod straight, cheeks pinched rosy and wet noses cleaned.

A professional editor, cover illustrator and gaggle of beta readers help – a cost I’ll happily incur as I wave my darling two (Pathfinders and Sigil) goodbye from the station terminal, hoping that they’ll be strong enough to make it out there on there own – in the big bad world.

And it is a big bad world. Certainly in self-publishing. Marketing is something that I need to work on. Something you’d think I’d be a dab hand at as an Inbound Marketing Specialist in a former life for Hubspot.

One of the recent avenues I used to try and separate myself from the competition, and try to get a boost above the crowds was to use Kirkus Reviews.

Kirkus have been around for over eighty years and have reviewed tens of thousands of books during that time, many of which have gone on to achieve ridiculous commercial success. Unbiased, critical reviews. Warts and all. Tell it like it is. One of the reasons why they are held in such esteem with publishers.

Many indie authors have gone down the Kirkus route, gotten a review and subsequently buried it (you have the option to publish or hide the review that Kirkus give). It’s a bitter pill to take, especially for those of the thin-skinned variety. However, a glowing review can catapult your book from the slush pile into one of the books of the week, catching the eye of agents and publishers looking for the next big thing.

At least that’s what I was hoping when I dispensed with my $425. Seven weeks later, I received a 250 word summary of my novel. Racked with nerves, sitting before the unopened email, I was hoping that it would:

  1. Be positive!
  2. Have a tagline I could use for my promotional/marketing efforts.

What was the review? Well, I’m nothing if not honest. You can read the review in it’s entirety here which I decided to publish.

Kirkus Review of Pathfinders

The great thing about marketing self-published books are that the options are almost endless. This can be thrilling, but in equal measures, incredibly frustrating.

Where to invest one’s time and energy? A part-time job promoting, on top of the part time job of writing, on top of the full-time job of working to pay the bills. The writing comes easiest, at least in my case.

However, passion fuels the drive and while it’s still enjoyable I’ll continue to do it, despite what the critics think.

N.B. My detective thriller Sigil is available for 99 cents/pence on Amazon UK, US for a limited time only.

13 thoughts on “Deflecting/Accepting Criticism

  • Wow. I got the impression the Kirkus people weren’t all that happy with the book. I, on the other hand, thought it was a terrific story. Maybe they don’t read as many books as I do. It wasn’t a bad review, but I really think the stuffed-shirts could have loosened up a bit for this book. I passed it off to my sci-fi adoring son who LOVED it….

    Liked by 1 person

  • Pathfinders is on my Kindle app on my phone so I will read it sometime soon! To be honest, the reviewer didn’t hate it, which is a plus, it’s just that it kinda got damned with faint praise. But the synopsis did make me want to crack on and read it! 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  • The Kirkus review made me downright angry. I read Pathfinders and thoroughly enjoyed it. Lucid dreaming was of interest to me in the beginning, and Pathfinders made me wonder, What if…? Isn’t that what a good novel is SUPPOSED to do?

    Liked by 2 people

  • I haven’t begun the book yet, but the review didn’t make much sense to what the book was about at all, until the last sentence. I feel the entire first paragraph of the review could have been scrapped since I found it difficult to read and quite choppy, like poorly digesting food tossed down on a quick run to somewhere else ya needin’ ta be. The last sentence would have been good enough to keep and draw from further if necessary:

    “An occasionally thrilling sci-fi adventure, but its dream realm feels underdeveloped.”

    Now, I really have to start reading the book to see why the dream realm feels underdeveloped, and because ya got me at “dream realm” Kirkus. I’ll be seein’ ya there Kirkus with me arms folded and a keen eye. A poorly written review that skanks on a writer only piques my curiosity for the writer skank’d and the books he/she’s a written.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Can’t win them all Sabell! It was probably a bad decision to go through Kirkus. Of course, I’d be singing their praises if everything came out rosey, but ultimately my editor, beta readers and reviews so far have suggested the vast majority have enjoyed it, so that’s my barometer. Can’t please ’em all! Please let me know your feedback when you’ve finished 🙂


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