I held my breath the entire time I read the review, not even knowing it was a review until I was almost done. When I got to the end, I went back to the beginning again, reading it more closely, my brain making the connection very, very slowly that this was a positive review.
I was stunned! I hadn't even known PW was reviewing my book, and suddenly I was gifted with this awesome pull quote, which ended up on my cover: "Sparks fly in Mucha's charming debut, which combines high-stakes suspense with rom-com fun."
This was awesome! As a writer who still struggles with imposter syndrome and constantly asking myself, "Is this even good?", this review was so validating.
But unfortunately, I was going to learn very soon that not every review would make me feel like that PW one.
The good, the bad and the WTF?
A few weeks before official release, Another Day, Another Partner was uploaded to various early reviewer sites. To say I was anxious would be a massive understatement. Sure, my agent, publisher, and PW liked my book, but what if readers didn't? I tried to prepare myself for bad reviews, but I'm a sensitive little flower, and one semi-negative comment surely would cause me to wither and die!
(I'd like to note that none of my reviews made me wither and die, but at the time it felt like they would)
I will admit, I obsessively checked Goodreads and NetGalley, waiting for the reviews to come in. And I was pleasantly surprised when the first batch were positive. People loved the mix of action, romance and mystery in my book, and seemed to really fall for my hero. Every time someone called it a "fun read," I'd smile. Every time someone said they were looking forward to the next book in the series, I'd squeal excitedly!
Then came my first negative review. Strangely, this person gave me 3 stars, but their words were harsh. They said my characters lacked chemistry and everything felt forced -- the reviewer even said I misused words and "failed to do any research." (Without providing examples, of course).
This review messed with me. What words did I misuse that an entire publisher's team missed? What facts did I get wrong? What did I fail to research? In hindsight, I should've IGNORED THIS! But suddenly, I was panicked. What if the good reviews were wrong, and this one was right?! What if the rest of the reviews would be negative, too?!
I started to relax a little as more positive reviews came in, and slowly I forgot about the negative one. Things were all fine and dandy until It Happened. I got my first, dreaded one-star review.
This review was bonkers. It was unnecessarily harsh and unfair. I began reading it, cringing as the reviewer mentioned my "instantly unlikeable" heroine and hero. She twisted the knife further by calling the book "flat-out unreadable."
And then came the kicker. This reviewer only read 15 pages. She claimed she had to stop because the hero called the heroine "babe," which she found wildly offensive, comparing it to sexual harassment from the #MeToo movement.
I wish I was joking. I understand not everyone's going to like my book, and I invite anyone who doesn't enjoy my book to please stop reading it! But what really ground my gears was that she left a review after only reading 15 pages, which made my average score take a nosedive. Imagine if we all just started rating books after only reading 15 pages?! That would be madness, I tell you!
This reviewer was clearly an outlier, as no one else mentioned being offended by this, but the unfairness of the review stuck with me. I realized that reviewers can say whatever they want about your book on the internet, and you just have to sit there and take it -- even if they're flat-out wrong or unreasonable.
Here's where a lot of you are probably thinking, "Rachel, you shouldn't read the reviews!" Perhaps one day when I'm a very successful author I won't care about what people are saying about my work (heavy emphasis on that perhaps), but this was my first book baby ever. Of course I'm going to want to see how it's being received! And by not reading the reviews, I wouldn't have seen the amazing ones that absolutely made my day.
Here are a few of my absolute favorite things people have said about my book:
From the very start of this book you go on this incredible adventure. There is attraction, drugs, bad guys, and so much fun packed into this book that you will have a hard time putting it down.
Another Day, Another Partner pulled me in immediately and did not let go for several days after I finished.
I found a new writer to add to my favorites list.
I'm not going to lie: Dom currently has a large chunk of my heart.
Not much can be said about Dom apart from I fell a little bit more in love with him with every page that I read. If I see another book by Rachel it will be straight on my to-read list!
THIS BOOK IS SO GOOD AND I CAN'T WAIT TO READ THIS AUTHOR'S NEXT BOOK!!
Val is my main girl, my main baby. Val did nothing wrong in this book, she was perfect. I love everything about her.
Rachel Mucha’s newest release is such a smash. Being a hopeless romantic that loves comedy, this book easily became my new favorite.
Imagine missing out on these fabulous comments. Seeing these definitely made the bad reviews way easier to stomach.
Coping with the negativity
Reviews have taught me a few things. First, there's always going to be more good than bad -- so focus on the good! Don't let a handful of bad reviews outweigh the tons of good ones.
Also, SAVE your favorite reviews! If you're ever having a particularly bad day with imposter syndrome, reread all the amazing things readers have said about you. How can you be a bad writer if you've made that many people happy with your words?
The most crucial way to cope with negative reviews is to accept the fact that you will get them. It doesn't matter how amazing your book is, how high it climbs on bestseller lists. There will always be people out there hellbent on bringing you down.
I picked up an amazing exercise from Book Twitter that was eye-opening. Think of your absolute favorite book -- the book you think is a masterpiece and is perfect from start to finish. Now, go onto Goodreads and look at the one-star reviews for that book. There's gonna be a lot of them. You'll go through them, shake your head and think, "These people are out of their minds!"
So the next time you get a negative review on that book you worked so, so hard on, just remember -- those people are out of their minds.