So now it's been almost two months since my book came out. It has been a crazy whirlwind. I have to say that the strangest part about having your book published is this: everyone you know reads it. And I do mean every one.
People you never thought would read it--they read it. People who are self-professed non-readers? They read it. People who haven't read a book in 10 years? They read it. Your 82 year old grandmother? Yeah, she reads it. The gaggle of aunts you have who are the sweetest, kindest, most decent human beings you've ever known in your life who you're certain will be scarred for life by the more disturbing scenes in your psychological thriller? They read it. All your writer friends? They read it. Your friends from grade school? They read it. Your friends from high school? They read it. Your friends from college? They read it. Former work colleagues? They read it. Neighbors? They read it. Your boss? He reads it. Your dentist? She reads it. Your accountant? He reads it. Your fifth grade teacher? She reads it.
The list goes on and on.
Even your brother and sister-in-law's dog, apparently, reads it!
This. Is. Amazing. And somewhat nerve-wracking at times!
First let me say that I'm ridiculously flattered and humbled by the response I've gotten from people who actually know me (or know people I know). My family and friends and friends of friends and neighbors and people I run into at the bank and the doctor's office and the store. . . have been so enthusiastic, so incredible, so . . . I don't really have words. They've made this already exciting time about a million times more exciting. Thank you to all of you! What is so awesome is that people have taken time out of their lives to spend hours reading something that I've written. That is so freaking cool!
So because my family and friends are so awesome, they all bought paperbacks and many of them bought paperbacks to gift to coworkers and friends. So for the first few weeks, almost on a daily basis, I would get an email or text or FB message saying, "I'm on chapter 24" or "I'm on chapter 11" and I'd have to rush over to the end table and flip furiously through the pages of my book to see just where they were. I honestly have no concept of the chapters. I only know the order of the plot. So if I'm not near my book and can't flip to the chapter, I have to say, "Well, what just happened?" and then I know whether they've already gotten to the most disturbing stuff or not!
All right, so if you've read my book or followed my blog for any length of time then you know that my book is not for the faint of heart. It is dark, gritty and violent. Lucky for me, I've had almost a decade to get comfortable with my book and what's in it. Given what real life children in Claire's situation go through, I did not and do not believe there was any other way to tell this story. I don't think you can tell this story without writing about the violence these children experience. Would you write a book about a Prisoner of War's experience in captivity and never once speak of what he endured? I don't think so. But that's a post for another time. My point here is that the book is disturbing in parts and while I believe in my book, I was very nervous about certain people reading it--like my grandmother and the gaggle of sweet aunts!
So far, almost everyone I know who has read it is still speaking to me. The sweet aunts? The ones who have read it so far have had good things to say. My 82 year old grandmother? She loved it!
I get a lot of different responses. Some people are very enthusiastic and want to discuss the intricacies of the plot and talk about the characters at length. They're upset and angry that the book is over. They gift it or vigorously recommend it to everyone else they know. I think these are the people who enjoyed it the most.
Then there are people who have a lot of great things to say about it and are also very enthusiastic and will recommend the book to others.
Then there are people I think maybe didn't like it all that much--or even hated it--but won't come right out and say it. These are people who were in the middle of it a few weeks ago and have not spoken of it since. Or people who say only, "I read it." Or people who say with a tight smile, "I read it. It was good." It must be difficult. Certainly I've been in the awkward position before of having read something I didn't like or didn't connect with and not wanted to hurt the writer's feelings. It's that whole if-you-don't-have-anything-nice-to-say-don't-say-anything-at-all thing. But I know that not everything is for everyone, and I appreciate that people have taken time from their busy lives to read my book--even if it isn't their cup of tea. There are even people who have told me they couldn't finish it because of the subject matter. And that's fine with me. Kind of like how I could never watch The Sopranos because the type of violence portrayed (visually) was too graphic for me. I'm fine with that. If I wanted to write something that anyone could read, I would have written a children's book.
Fortunately for me, thus far, the amount of positive reader response has far, far, far outweighed the lukewarm responses which is really awesome.
What has been really cool is that literally not one day has gone by without me getting some kind of message--an email, Facebook message, Tweet, text, etc.--from a reader saying something positive. One day I got five messages all within a few hours of each other. Needless to say, I was on Cloud 9. Just last week I got a beautiful email from a reader who connected with the book on a personal level, and that was very gratifying.
In fact, the reader response thus far has been doubly gratifying to me since it took me almost a decade to get this book into their hands.
Next time, I'll talk about the dreaded reviews! And after that . . . FAQs and after that . . . I'm considering a post on misconceptions of the newbie author's life. Stay tuned and THANK YOU for stopping by!
A friend of a relative
Tags: "finding claire fletcher" readers