When Someone Calls Your Book Self-Satisfied, Indulgent Junk

May 10 – 12:  Heard from BookHive Corp that I can expect my beta reader feedback on Friday.  Let’s just skip ahead to said Friday…

May 13:  Friday the 13th.

I received feedback from BookHive Corp. – a company that provides beta readers who read your manuscript and share feedback which is summarized and sent to you in a 32 page PDF.  Let’s just dive in, shall we?

There were 9 beta readers – all women – all between 20’s and mid 50’s.  The majority of the comments were positive, but how can anyone possibly focus on those when one reader hated it.  I mean, hated it.  I mean, she even read my blog (hello reader #6 if you’re out there) and hated it too.  “I checked out her blog and it was as superficial as I expected” (though there was a compliment in there about actually having a blog and working it).  I quickly did what anyone would do and skimmed through every question and page only searching for reader #6’s answers.  Nevermind that her comments were sandwiched between two glowing reviews, the fact of the matter is, there was a lady out there who read my book and hated it….and basically hated me….and I could only do one thing…fixate on it all day.

Here’s a taste of what was asked and what the readers said:

Q:  What were your favorite essays and explain why.

A:  “30 Love Letters in 30 Days – this essay was very very sweet and inspiring.  I found it to be beautifully written.  It was a nice insight into how we connect or don’t connect in this age of technology.”

A:  I really enjoyed “30 Love Letters in 30 Days.”  There is just something about telling people we love and appreciate them that we so rarely do, so it was great to read about.  It was also very inspiring – so much so that I have started my own writing of love letters to family and friends that I hold dear.”

A:  “…Really, I didn’t like her writing style or content at all so I cannot possibly tell you three favorite essays….”

A:  “I laughed out loud a lot while reading “Only Child Syndrome”….”

A:  “…I loved “PMS!” I laughed for about 10 minutes when reading it because it is something every woman can relate to…”

***

Q:  Please describe your response to reading the first ten pages of this book, whether it drew you in, or not.”

A:  “I was drawn in immediately…”

A:  “I really liked the way this book started.  Picking the first story to be first was a good choice.  I wanted to keep reading.”

A:  “I was not drawn in at all by the first ten pages.  I was, as a matter of fact, deeply annoyed from the very first sentence….”

A:  “The first few pages were enticing, but her tone got kind of annoying/grating with each self-praise.  It’s great that she’s accomplished many things, but it felt a little narcissistic.”

***

Q:  How was the writing style?  Was it like other books that you’re used to reading?

A:  “It reminds me a little of the Chicken Soup for the Soul books, which I love.”

A:  “I loved the writing style.  I thought it flowed well together, and was extremely funny.  I haven’t read too many books formatted in this same manner, but I definitely thought it worked for her.”

A:  “…It felt sort of stream-of-consciousness and like I was talking to someone one-on-one in a cafe.”

A:  “….she doesn’t have depth to her experience that translates into her words.”

***

Q:  What did you think of the ending?

A:  “Wanted another!”

A:  “I think it was an interesting way to end a book…”

A:  “Her brand of “Christianity” strikes me as not particularly Christ-like and more of what the mainstream depicts as Christian.”

***

Q:  Do you feel this book is marketable and which target audience do you think it will reach most?”

A:  “Yes. I think the target audience would be women, and Christian women.”

A:  “Very marketable, feel that women would be interested.”

A:  “I know there’s a market for superficial memoirs but I’m not the person to judge where that market is.”

***

Q:  What would help make this book stronger, if anything?

A:  “Add in stories about her parents when she was younger.”

A:  “I think this book is already strong.”

A:  “Run this manuscript through the “cliche finder” and then eliminate every one.”

A:  “Actually give some advice or tell an interesting story, not just talk about yourself.  Write some funny essays.”

***

Q:  If you had to describe what this book was about in 2-3 sentences, what would you say?

A:  “…A series of personal essays.  It is the thoughts of a young woman about various aspects in life that many people can relate to.”

A:  “Midwestern girl raised by teen parents seeks fame, fortunetellers and family.”

A:  “A humorous collection of short stories about lessons learned from a mother and applied throughout child and adulthood.  There are many laugh-out-loud moments and highly relatable stories that many women will love to read.”

A:  “Catching up with an old friend.  A down to earth chat.”

A:  “Funny and delightful! Well worth the read!”

***

Okay, you guys get the gist.  Other honorable mentions of comments refer to me being privileged and trite.  There was mention of one of my essays being a “bullshit essay” and when reader #6 was asked about her favorite part of the book, I believe her answer was “it was short.”  There was also a comment about how my friends and family probably tell me that I’m a great writer and make them laugh but how those people should be questioning my ambitions for writing.

There’s so much more but I obviously can’t make this the longest blog ever, or can I?

All in all, I am really thankful I used BookHive Corp and Chris thinks it was great too.  He even tried to somehow compare me to Kim Kardashian, or her having haters, or having a specific target market, or somethin’.  I don’t even know.  But, after I got over the initial shock that someone out there really hated my book, my writing style, and didn’t jive with my humor…there was some helpful constructive criticism in there that I will be re-reading and trying to incorporate (after 40 rounds of therapy and a large cheese pizza).

I would be lying if I didn’t say the feedback, including some of the harsher comments I didn’t post here just because they were humiliating, didn’t bother me and make me want to throw the towel in and get embarrassed by all of it…but I did keep perspective thanks to family and friends (you know, the ones who tell me I’m a great writer and funny but who should question my writing motives).