My youngest, who is twelve, has always clung to words. She likes how coffin and soft sound, and she repeats words like creamy often. Her new favorite word: rude. As in, “That’s rude,” in response to someone’s off-color behavior. But it’s not the word that stands out, it’s how she says it. A bit of emphasis on the word itself, plus a protraction of the long u sound. Her lips almost purse when she says it—r (purse lips) oood— and sometimes, she accompanies the comment with a roll of her eyes.
I love all my children, but the youngest? She’s something else.
She’s also my biggest writing fan and supporter. Which means she’s taken it upon herself to be my accountability partner for this next manuscript. Though she doesn’t write so much herself, she does have this innate ability (read that as one-track mind, please) to encourage me to sit my rump in the chair. Thanks to her, I have gotten back into a regular writing routine, and my WIP revisions are coming along nicely. (Plus, she likes for me to read my work to her! How’s that for instant feedback? Maybe I should start marketing her services.)
Part of that support also means having my back. And the latest bee in her bonnet—prompting the rude comment countless times—revolves around reading and reviewing another author’s work. You see, I’m in several groups in which authors have offered to read and review each other’s work. You send them a digital arc; they send you one. You read the book. You rate and review the book. On Amazon, Goodreads, what have you.
In my mind, if I say I’ll read and review, then I’ll read and review, NO MATTER WHAT. I don’t care if I don’t like the book, I’ll read as much as I can, and I’ll find something to like about it. The bottom line is, I told that author I’d do them a favor. And so I do. But not everyone feels the same. And a number of folks who’ve promised to read and review books? Well, they just haven’t. And that’s where the rude comment comes in.
“That’s rude,” she said, placing a hand on her hip. “That’s just rude.”
And it is.
Why not just email and say the book wasn’t to your liking and you’re not sure you can give it a review? Or better yet, why not just give it a decent rating because writing a book and getting it published is SO DAMN DIFFICULT, and we will all have enough regular readers out there who will skewer our writing and cause our self-doubt to exponentially increase? (I can’t say I came up with that last option myself. The wonderfully talented and overall author supporter Keisha Bush mentioned it in a group a few weeks back. I’ve been thinking about it ever since.)
Well, last night, my daughter came up to me as I was reading yet another book for another author. She asked about the author, whether she’d read my work in return, and if she’d reviewed it.
“She did!” I said. “She gave it a positive review, and so far, I’m liking this book as well. My review will be a good one.”
“Why do you do this again?” my daughter asked.
“It’s all about reciprocity,” I said. “It’s an exchange. Good reviews are good for our books, and we’re trying to help each other out.”
“Hmm,” she said. “It should be called stressiprocity.”
She’s right. The stress of reading and reviewing books might just be why some people don’t follow through on their commitments. But for people with books coming out of small presses, those reviews are important. Our books don’t always fall on lists coming out of national magazines and newspapers, and those reviews from readers and authors might make a difference as to whether or books get noticed or not.
I’ll keeping doing what I’m doing: granting great reviews to those books I love and following what I now fondly all the “Keisha Bush no-bubble-bursting review method.” And if no one else does? Well, that’s on them. My book will find its way in this world with or without them. I just have to trust in that.