A reader hugged me from out of nowhere this week. She said that my novel has helped her grieve the sudden death of her adult son. Another woman, an elderly one, shared that my main character, Prudence Brandt, knows exactly what it feels like to be a widow who lost her husband and best friend. That positive feedback is what keeps me writing, pushing myself, even when I’m tired of a story that I’ve so painstakingly crafted. It is affirming, wholly satisfying, to know that my narratives may well be worth reading.
But precious interactions with delighted readers are not commonplace for new authors like myself and working at home all week at a laptop can be lonely and frustrating…especially when jockeying for the attention of folks who could no doubt boost your platform. Despite your best efforts, those intended readers may think (and post) that your book just plain sucks. Like the professional reviewer who proclaimed my book an acute stinker but clearly never read it (thank you, Kirkus!). Or worse, the cringe-worthy review that wanted my storyline to morph into a boink-a-thon. "It needs hot sex!" she declared, disappointed. My thriller didn’t thrill her the least bit because it lacked the raw skin-on-skin interface that is tossed about so flippantly in recently published women’s fiction (i.e. Fifty Shades, etc.).
Validation for fiction authors is generally subjective, random, and unpredictable. But on the bright side, things could be worse. You could be employed as a quality control guy for Johnson & Johnson.