A phrase I use often at work (that’s my day job in government communications) is ‘Praise from Caesar!’ 🙂
It means you’ve received some encouraging and complimentary words from someone higher up than you, usually the big boss. Well, something similar has just happened in my ‘second job’ as a crime novelist.
I can’t reveal too much yet because we haven’t signed contracts, but a publisher has been reading my 3rd Detective Constable Dominic Strider mystery, entitled ‘Strider Begins: Road to Nowhere’.
He told me he was “really enjoying it”, loved how Strider wasn’t a typical clichéd copper, but was “a fully rounded character” and how the numerous jokes were “making him laugh out loud”.
Wow oh wow, I was genuinely blown away by his comments. After all, he doesn’t have to be nice or kind to me. He has the power to turn me away and say ‘no’. But he’s enjoying the book and, well, fingers crossed……..
It got me thinking about feedback for my first two Strider novels – ‘No More Lonely Nights’ and ‘Long & Winding Road’ – which were printed around a decade ago. Both are available in paperback and on Kindle via Amazon.
Social media wasn’t so prevalent 10-12 years ago, and so the best ways to market these two books was in my newspapers (I’m a former journalist) and via word of mouth.
The first book – ‘No More Lonely Nights’ – was launched in a Chester bookshop that’s sadly no longer with us. I held other signing sessions for it in both Chester and Ellesmere Port.
And when I held signing sessions for the second book – ‘Long & Winding Road’ – a lot of people were what you’d call ‘repeat business’. They’d enjoyed the first novel so much they were back for more!
The company of strangers
Everyone who’s ever written a book knows how lovely it is when family and friends praise it. But in the words of Mandy Rice Davies, in the Profumo scandal: “Well, they would say that, wouldn’t they?”
So, to me, the very best feedback has always been strangers. The customers who come to your signings (see above).
The people who leave me 5-star reviews on Amazon, lauding the twisting plots, the grittiness of the locales and crimes, the complex and fascinating character of Strider himself.
The wife of a local politician (who’d never met me, and had no reason to be nice about my work) who told me the first book was “a cracking read”.
But my all-time favourite piece of feedback comes from a boy aged 12, who approached me at a signing session for ‘No More Lonely Nights’ at Borders Books in Ellesmere Port. I wouldn’t let him buy a copy of the book because it contains violence, swearing and a sex scene. But he asked me what the plot was about anyway. I told him…..
His reply, which he shouted across the store: “OMG, that sounds absolutely awesome!!”
He then ran off excitedly to tell his mum, who promptly bought a copy. Gee, I wonder if that boy is reading this blog today. All grown-up, I really hope his enthusiasm for my work remains undiminished.
Keeping it balanced
In the interests of balance, I should tell you about any negative reviews I’ve received. A few people have been mildly complimentary – one colleague said the first book was “good, but too laddish for her” – and others have said they liked it without elaborating, which makes you think it just wasn’t their cup of tea. Fair enough.
But truth be told, I have never, ever had a bad review. Not ever. Hope I’m not jinxing things by saying that! 🙂
Which leads me back full circle to the publisher, who’s currently halfway through my 3rd book, and loving it. I’ll keep you posted on what happens next. But I’m anticipating something very exciting indeed!!