Photo: Moacir P. de Sá Pereira
Publishing a book is sometimes compared to having a baby. The similarities are undeniable: the seminal idea, the gestation, the labor. But at “birth,” the metaphor hits a wall, because in real life nobody—nobody—has an ugly baby. When the pix go up on Facebook, scroll through the comments:
What an adorable dolly!
In 118 comments you won’t find one thumbs-down. Not a single “OMG—I am so sorry” or “Dang—better luck next time.” What’s more, even if a comment or two betray a little honesty in their hedging (“Love the pix!” “Thanks for sharing!”), a parent is not for one second going to have doubts about that baby as a result.
How different it is for a book: if that baby’s ugly, you’re gonna hear it. Maybe your Facebook friends won’t tell you, but you’ll hear it one way or another, either in negative reviews or in the sad, empty silence that comes when a book is ignored. And then how can you not have doubts?
I have at least one friend who doesn’t read reviews—at least the bad ones. Instead, she puts her friends on alert to send her good ones only. I see her reasoning: why should she let a lousy review by a single stranger have the power to depress and anger her?
You may have guessed why this is on my mind: my new children’s book, on the cusp of publication, is now in the hands of reviewers. Every day I tell myself that I should be reveling in this phase before anyone’s disdain (or discovery of typos) can dim my joy. But instead I bite my nails and check my Google alerts.
Maybe I’ll learn something from the criticism. Or take heart from evidence that even negative reviews can increase a book’s sales.
But sales will be cold comfort if someone calls my baby names.
I’ll let you know the minute the little bundle arrives. And maybe you’ll let me know if you see a good review?