This week a reviewer made me cry. And loads of Facebook followers who had bought my book told me exactly what they thought of my writing… Eek!
Let me start by saying that since Flowers For The Dead was published 47 days ago (yes, like a teenager in a new relationship, I’m still at the stage where I’m counting days. Hell, I even celebrated my one-month ‘anniversary’) life has been a little crazy. It instantly became a bestseller – and it hasn’t moved off Amazon’s charts since. If you want more details on this, head to the news sections of my website, where there are lovely pictures of me at Number One, etc, in ‘Flowers For The Dead Hits New Heights’.
This is all great. It means that lots of people are buying my book – but the real test is, of course, whether or not they actually enjoy it once they start reading.
Now comes the bit where I tell you about the tears…
First, I got notified a blogger had posted her review of Flowers For The Dead on the website. Anne Williams runs Being Anne, an incredibly popular book blog that is very well respected. She is also one of Amazon’s top 500 reviewers, so her views influence a lot of people.
She started by saying that she’d taken a gamble agreeing to review my book because she knew nothing about my writing. This is very true. As I read that sentence, my heart thumped in fear and also sympathy. Every time I approach a critic to ask them if they would consider reviewing my book, I’m taking a massive gamble too, because there is as much chance that they will hate it as love it. So what had Anne made of my novel?
“There’s a small number of books that – in my eyes – set the standard for what I expect when I read a thriller…Barbara Copperthwaite’s Flowers For The Dead more than deserves to be included in that company – I found it mesmerising, terrifying, intriguing, very unsettling, totally compulsive and a fantastic read,” she wrote.
Well, that was it, my eyes were swimming. Anne had compared me with wonderful writers Elizabeth Haynes, and Elisabeth Forbes, and said I was as good as them. I was floored by the compliment.
Every time someone reads my book, I get The Fear. A deep and abiding conviction that they are going to hate it and tear it to shreds. That they will find out I am a fake and a phoney pretending to be a decent writer. That I am the author equivalent of the tone deaf person on X Factor who insists that they have what it takes to be a star.
To be told that I’m good enough to stand shoulder to shoulder with some truly wonderful writers… Ironically, I can’t find the words to describe my elation.
The praise went on, though. And yes, I’m going to quote it because I’m still giddy.
“Barbara Copperthwaite writes quite beautifully – the words flow easily and the pages turn, and she makes the chilling and dark, the absurd and horrific, into easy reading. That’s quite a skill,” she wrote.
Finally, she delivered the knock out blow. “This is, without a moment’s hesitation, one of my books of the year.”
Woo-hoo! I was someone’s book of the year!
I felt like I was flying. Still, I forced myself to do some more writing, but then I decided to check my Facebook page. And I’d got some comments from readers who had bought my book.
Uh-oh. Time for more tears.
“Best book I’ve read in ages” “Un-put-downable” “Brilliant book, really creepy” So many messages from so many people. They had not just taken the time to buy my book and read it, they’d been moved to let me know how much they’d enjoyed it.
All thoughts of being able to settle down and write went out of the window, I’m afraid. I was far too excited for that, and had to go for a walk to calm down. Even then, I couldn’t wipe the huge grin off my face.
I’ve taken a photograph of all those lovely comments, so that I can keep them forever. And next time I’m feeling low, and wondering what the heck I am doing, and whether or not I’m wasting my time as a writer and should get myself a proper job instead, I shall look through those words and find inspiration in them.
Thank you to every single person who made me cry. You are stars, and without you, I couldn’t keep going. Never underestimate your power.
- Anne’s review can be read in full here