By Wilfred Bereswill
Okay, so your friends and family have read it. They heap on the praise and it makes you smile; gives you that briefest of moments that gets you back behind the keyboard. The little things that keep you going on your work in progress. Those little praises don’t really make your work any better, but most of us need our ego stroked now and then, so in that aspect they serve their purpose.
Then there are those honest critiques. Either from critique groups, a professional colleague, a freelance editor, or wherever. They can sting. Hurt the pride. Bruise the ego. But, they can make that work better, more polished. A good critique can make your work sing. It takes a thick hide to listen to those negatives, but once you gain the right perspective, you realize those voices, negative as they might sound are on your side. They are the brave ones, willing to tell you what they know will hurt to make you better. Kudos to all those that have stepped up and put their selves out there to make me a better writer.
But all this time, somewhere deep down we have doubts. After all, literature IS extremely suggestive. No doubt, whatever you write, someone will love it and someone will hate it. But we all fear those negative comments. As if somehow they are an attack on us; on our souls. Who we are. We have a hard time separating ourselves from our writing.
So how does all this tie in? Here is the story. The small press that published me skips the Advance Reader Copy (ARC) stage of the publishing process. They go from proofs to print. So, what does that mean? It means that advance copies are not sent out to various publications for reviews prior to publishing. Many publications will not review a book after it is released.
Soon after it’s release in July, I had my publicist send a few copies out for review, with no luck. Then about a month ago, the Book Editor of the Post put up a blog, titled “Why don’t we review every local author’s book?.” In the blog, she went on to explain how publications across the nation are cutting out their book sections and how the Post has precious few inches for reviews. Competition for those inches is huge. Much of the space has to be dedicated to the big names.
I added a short comment to the blog thanking her for the explanation. A few minutes later, I received an e-mail from her thanking me for my comment and a request for another copy of my book for a possible review. She explained that she must have misplaced the earlier copy. So, a quick trip down to the Post Dispatch building downtown and another $13 investment and I was in wait mode once again.
This past Saturday morning I received a Google Alert. There was a hit on my book title’s search. I glanced at the link. It came from STLToday.com (the St. Louis Post Dispatch’s website.) The very brief link description said “REVIEW.” My throat constricted, a huge lump formed in my stomach and that undeniable feeling of my breakfast revisiting came over me. One part of my brain willed my finger to click the link (no doubt the masochist in me), while another part (my ego) screamed, “NO!”
Seems silly, right? After all, I’ve received considerable fan mail and from people I don’t know complimenting the book. But this is a book reviewer. An expert. The holy grail of critiques.
Well, on Sunday, right next to a review of Clive Cussler’s new book, Arctic Drift, there it was. “Local Writer Holds Own With Fine Thriller.” The lead sentence, With “A Reason For Dying,” St. Louis’ own Wilfred Bereswill has written a thriller with a dandy plot and fine characters.” The link above takes you to the on-line version. The review is already clipped and ready to go into the scrapbook. And I’m having a nice ending to the long Thanksgiving Holiday.