Reader reviews – why they mean so much to me

Whenever there’s a new review of Chronicles of the Tree, I tend to get very excited and share it with friends and family. I’m still a freshly minted novelist, after all: the first book has been out less than a year, the second barely six months, and I’m still pinching myself to make sure I’m not dreaming. A while ago, after sharing yet another online blurb with long suffering friends, it occurred to me, rather belatedly, that I may be boring them. I imagined them thinking, “Ok, ok, someone liked your book, you’re thrilled, I’m thrilled, now can we talk about something else for a change?” I worried I was blowing my own trumpet; I thought that maybe I should stop.

Luckily, when I voiced this concern to a friend whose advice I trust, she told me to quit worrying so much, relax and enjoy the ride. She told me that other people would enjoy the reviews, and enjoy my enthusiasm for them, too. (I rather suspect they might enjoy it as one enjoys watching a puppy jump up and down for a treat, with a sort of amused tolerance.) Anyway, with that proviso in mind, I’d like to share another review for ‘Tymon’s Flight’ with you, this time from Crickhollow Books. 

I was wondering why it was that this particular review appealed so much to me. It’s not only the fact that the reader liked the book and gave it five stars. Of course that makes me very happy – just as when people don’t like the book for whatever reason, it make me sad, for about a day. I can’t help it! I’m human. But all that is part and parcel of the writing process – you have to accept the ups along with the downs, the loves with the hates, the people who think you’re akin to sliced bread and the ones who really, really don’t. That’s the way the cookie crumbles – if you’ll permit a second baking metaphor.

But there is something else that happens, on occasion, over and above a simple reaction to the work, a ‘yay’ or ‘nay’. Sometimes, a reader ‘gets it’. I suddenly feel like I’m talking directly to that person – really talking, through the pages of the book. And the reader is responding, critiquing, adding immeasurably to the experience. There’s a whole conversation taking place. And the amalgam, the sum of book and reader, makes a larger creation, something I could never have accomplished on my own.

I can’t tell you how important that is to me. It’s like the air I breathe.

Anyway, that’s how I felt with this one. Thank you, Crickhollow Books!


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8 Responses to Reader reviews – why they mean so much to me

  1. Bahiyyih says:

    This is a marvelous review and your response to it, the thrill you describe of having someone really READ what you meant, is even more marvelous to me. It is the greatest accolade a reader could receive, to have a writer say “We’ve achieved something together, you and I: this is bigger than both of us!” Of such stuff are revolutions made, and causes, good and bad, and falling in love among other things. The point is that we need readers almost more than we need writers in the world. We have a publishing industry that has run rampant and that is churning out writers galore in order to maintain more and more sales, but we are witnessing the erosion of the reading culture and education at the same pace. If there isn’t enough top soil out there, who are we writing for in the last analysis?

    • MaryV says:

      I think this sort of reader, and others I have encountered, prove that the readership we crave is still there. It’s sometimes hard to connect with the people who will truly get something out of your book, but that doesn’t mean they don’t exist. The escalating quantity of books published, and the many different voices on the internet et al. makes for a lot of information to sort through. But the great readers are still out there!

  2. Helen Lowe says:

    A wonderful review, Mary–& I agree that feeling you ave really communicated with a reader is very special.

    • MaryV says:

      Special and precious. ‘Gentle reader’, the writers of former centuries would say, when they wrote the preamble to their books… meaning both, ‘respected reader’, and ‘please be gentle!’ They were right.

  3. Olga says:

    “We’ve achieved something together, you and I: this is bigger than both of us!”
    That’s a wonderful thought 🙂 It takes a very special book to be able to resonate so completely with the reader.

    • MaryV says:

      Again… I could turn that around: it takes a special sort of reader to resonate with a particular book. 🙂

      The reader/author team creates something magic. I don’t think books like LOTR or the Harry Potter series would have had half the impact they do if it were not for a fleet of loyal, interested and imaginative readers. Sure, the books tapped into something widely appealing… but the readers were the ones willing to participate in the shared dream.

  4. Bahiyyih says:

    The act of reading, like the act of writing is an act of faith; it is an act of extraordinary and possibly misguided trust that defies all logic. Language is the miracle. We actually go around, all of us, from pole to pole in spite of six millennia of wars and mayhem and family feuds, we still go around having the resounding temerity to believing that a combination of sounds and syllables and diphthongs and clicks make sense to someone else over there. And sometimes, bi gorra, they do… How does it happen? Why do we do it?

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