Before I get to the rare part, though, it’s important for you to know that last summer, I decided to take a long-avoided plunge: to start looking for book reviewers and to make requests for them to read and review some of my books. Nerve-racking waters for me, as you might be hard-pressed to find a ton of artists or creators of any kind who relish the possibility of people judging and publicizing that what the creators worked so hard to produce is total garbage, or perhaps worse, it’s “a nice try that doesn’t quite cut the mustard. Sorry.”
Since the summer, I’ve contacted nigh on two hundred fifty reviewers with requests for this round of books, and there are more I plan to ask. Yes, that handful of precious reviews on my Interviews, Reviews, and Responses page is the result of requests made to hundreds of people, and that doesn’t count the other hundreds of reviewers I looked up and didn’t contact because this one had too many other requests to fulfill, that one doesn’t accept books with religious themes, another one doesn’t deal with self-published titles, or what have you. The majority of people I’ve contacted have declined my requests or didn’t ever respond (book reviewers are busy folks), and I’ve sent zero blanket requests to multiple reviewers at a time, since different reviewers ask for different genres, information, and media kits, and I address each reviewer by name—or by website, if they don’t make their names public—so each request is made up and sent out individually.
I’ve never done so much asking in my life. Not from other human beings.
So, then, I had a dream last night. In the dream, I came across a sizeable group of reviewers who were available and happy to receive requests from authors like me, so I took advantage, sending copies of The Movement of Crowns out to each of them. I was pleased at the turnaround time, as their reviews of my work started appearing within the month. However, it wasn’t long before I wasn’t so pleased. As more of the reviews came out, it became evident that none of these reviewers were finding anything positive to say about my book. I thought at first that maybe they weren’t really reading my work, that perhaps this was just one of those dreaded author-defamation schemes, but I went back to reread the reviews. The reviewers had all of their facts straight. They were acquainted with my characters; they knew my plot and subplots, and their various opinions, though I didn’t agree with them, made arguable sense. Apparently, they’d truly read Crowns.
There had to have been some mistake. I’m not yet a master in my field, but it couldn’t be that, suddenly, so many people at one time thought my book was awful. I know I’m not that bad of a writer, so I examined the reviews again and found a mysterious trend. While everything in the text of the reviews was moderately to thoroughly negative, the star ratings of the reviews were rather high. Like, a reviewer would point out everything that was wrong about the book’s plot and character development, would say that Crowns wasn’t really any good, and then would give the book a 4 out of 5 star rating to go along with the text of the review. 4 out of 5 stars is pretty great, so were these reviews bad…
What was even more mysterious was that while these reviews were coming out, my readership was seeing a small increase in growth. More people were starting to buy my book.
Now, the thing about looking up hundreds and hundreds of book reviewers is that your eyes, and your brain, get tired. Sometimes you miss a detail in the fine print. I must’ve missed something important about who these reviewers were when I initially sought them out, so I looked up the information about their group again. I didn’t know how I could have overlooked this important fact, but I found out this group offered “negative reviews guaranteed to increase indie authors’ book sales, especially if the books are gems.” I was not happy about that, since in the first place, I steer clear of any reviewers or book promotion opportunities that smell like scams or that “guarantee” wonderful results, and in the second place, I didn’t like so many negative things being said in public about my Crowns. On account of my oversight, I’d been duped into an operation I wanted no part of, and it might have been too late to prevent any damage it could cause. Sure, my readership was increasing, but how long would that last before this scheme backfired, I was accused of being a con or was dismissed as a bad writer, and my hard work and life as an author went to ruin? What good could come of something like this?
Hey. I know I’m not the only person who’s ever had that things-are-going-okay-now-but-I’m-waiting-for-it-all-to-fall-apart feeling.
As I’ve talked about in another blog post, many of us are familiar with Romans 8:28 (“we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them that are the called according to his purpose”) and Genesis 50:20 (“But as for you, ye thought evil against me; but God meant it unto good, to bring to pass, as it is this day, to save much people alive.”) The Hebrew word for “meant” in this verse in Genesis is châshab, which means to weave or to plot, which shows how God takes everything in the course of our lives, the bad and the good, and weaves it all into something that is ultimately worth it.
That’s what my dream was like. Negative reviews weaved with positive ratings that was resulting in more people reading my book. But how long would it last?
Isn’t that how we are sometimes? Too often? Watching our life circumstances unfold, and waiting, just waiting, for that moment when the boom finally lowers, the long-dreaded worst happens at last, and everything falls apart, just as we worried it would. Or how so-and-so told us it would. Or just like it happened to those folks over there, whose plans were going all right until stuff went wrong and their lives came crashing down on them.
My point, in all of this? You can stop waiting for the boom to lower. You can stop waiting for all of your plans and hopes to be shot to…well, you know. You can stop waiting for the big “THE END” that ends it all, for you. “But, what if something bad happens?” Well, what if it does? It’s going to get weaved in with everything else, life and time are going to go on, and somehow, it’s going to come out in your favor if you love God, Who still “means” it all for good. Trust that you’ll see the weaving, that you’ll see the good, and you’ll see it.
Now. Am I going to go hunt for a group of guarantee-giving book reviewers like the ones I found in my dream? Of course not. But the dream served as an illustration. Instead of looking at your situations (positive, negative, or whatever) and waiting for them to go to ruin, look at them and decide to be sure: “Somehow, good is going to come of this.”
And it will.
Scripture verses in this post are from the King James Version of The Holy Bible.