Q1. Does UNRAVEL have a sequel?
A1. I don’t have one planned at the moment, although I might revisit that world in future.
Q2. What will your next book be?
A2. I’m not sure! I have a few projects I’m working on at the moment, but so far none of them have found a publisher.
Q3. I mentioned you on Twitter but you never responded. Why not?
A3. If you sent me a message on Twitter and I didn’t reply, I apologize! I do reply to most messages, although it’s always possible that I missed one. Please feel free to tweet me again and I’ll look out for you!
If you just mentioned me on Twitter, rather than actually addressing a tweet to me, the reason I didn’t respond is probably to do with my policy on reviews and social media (below).
Other questions: If you have any other questions you’d like to ask me, please email me or use the Ask me anything tool on the LINKED Tumblr.
I’m writing this in early February 2013. LINKED, my first book to enjoy a widely publicized release, is due to go on sale in less than six months. Advance Reading Copies have already gone out, and reviews and ratings are collecting on Goodreads.
So far the reviews are mostly positive. And none of them are hugely critical. And so far I’ve read them all without my heart sinking.
But, all the same, as of this moment, I have to stop reading them.
It’s not because I’m not glad my book is being reviewed. It’s certainly not because I believe people shouldn’t say exactly what they like (good, bad or indifferent) about my book. It’s also not because I think I have nothing to learn from criticism of my writing.
It’s because of three things.
1. Reviews are for readers, not for authors. They’re not open letters to authors, and if authors make the mistake of reacting to them as if they are…well, we’ve all seen the train wrecks that can result from that. Not only do I not want to be that author, I don’t want to put myself in the position of being tempted to be that author. And although I can’t imagine myself going into a public rage over a review, I don’t suppose it’s the sort of thing anyone plans to do exactly.
Also, although there are authors whom I greatly admire, and whom I would love to meet, I don’t think I’d be pleased to think of them reading my Goodreads or Amazon reviews of their books. Because…well, reviews are not for authors. I’ve seen several book reviewers state that they would prefer that authors not comment on reviews, even if the author has only done so to say thank you. Because it brings the author into the conversation in a way the reviewer didn’t want.
2. Although it’s important for authors to take criticism (from their critique partners, beta readers, agents, editors…), it’s too late for me to gain much from criticism of a book that’s already in the final stages of publication. Whatever the faults of LINKED, it’s too late for me to fix them. Which leads to…
3. I have to write my next book. I can’t change anything about LINKED. So expending mental energy on second-guessing decisions I made during the writing/editing process, or on trying to work out what I did wrong to get that one-star, one-word review that simply says “Blah” isn’t going to make any difference to LINKED*. What it will do is distract me from writing my next book.
I find the first-draft process fairly hideous anyway. I usually hate what I’m writing until I re-read it, sometimes weeks later, and it really doesn’t take much to make me think I’d be better off giving up entirely. So I kind of can’t afford to be reading critical–even critical but mostly positive–reviews of one book while I’m at that stage of writing another.
*(Note: As of this moment, LINKED has no reviews like that, so this is an example only. An example from my nightmares.)
So, I won’t be reading (or, therefore, commenting on) reviews of LINKED at Goodreads, Amazon, Barnes & Noble etc.
I’m co-opting a family member to read the reviews for me and pass on the good ones. Assuming they don’t start distracting me from writing the next book too, because in that case I won’t be reading any reviews.
I also won’t necessarily be responding to mentions on Twitter. Because of the way Twitter is set up, replies to my tweets, messages meant for me, and tweets that just mention my Twitter handle all get lumped into the same category. If someone is deliberately talking to me via Twitter (e.g. “Hi, @imogenhowson, I finished reading your book this week.”), I will obviously respond. Because I have manners, and because I like to talk to people! But I won’t generally respond to tweets that just contain my Twitter name (e.g. “Just finished reading a book by @imogenhowson.”).
This is because I assume the first type of tweet is actually meant for me, but that the second type of tweet is meant for the world at large, and that the writer has just included my Twitter name as a useful reference, so people can see who they’re talking about.
Also, if someone tweets me to let me know about a review they’ve written, I will respond to say thanks, but, because of my review policy, I probably won’t be reading the review unless my review-screener-person sends it to me.
And if someone tweets me to let me know they hated my book, I won’t be responding. Because, well, what is there to say?