Imagine my surprise last week when I received this submission from my “You Want Me to Read Your Book?” form (slightly redacted to protect the sender):
I’m not sure this is the wisest thing I’ve ever done. In fact, it seems somewhat irrational, considering you found my last book a bit like chewing on glass [HCN: That’s an exaggeration. Possibly not much of one, but it’s an exaggeration. It was maybe like chewing on kale. Or stale Grape Nuts (which is more glass-like)] Maybe worse, because nothing is as bad as a bad book. But here I am again. Back for more.
Now, I’m not a sadist. I’m actually fairly thinned-skin. I realize, however, that of all my reviews, yours was the one that taught me the most. Getting five, four, or even three-star reviews feels great—but it does little in making me a better writer. Difficult as it was to swallow, your two-star review helped me immensely as a writer. You put your finger on why my book didn’t work and revealed many of the flaws in my writing. It eventually prompted me to go back and release a second edition of the book, one that is hopefully less overwrought and far more accessible than the version you read.
And so, I’m back for more. Because I’m hoping in having you review another book I might continue my growth towards being a better writer. Who knows, maybe, maybe not.
Anyway, I have a second book out… It is much more accessible… I would love to have you read it. Anyway, I hope you’re well. Happy reading,
Now, I have a habit of ignoring emails from authors I don’t give positive reviews to. It’s a habit I forced on myself after one horrible experience with someone I gave a positive review to, but he objected to one point; and an insult-filled rant from another author who didn’t appreciate me calling his pile of trash a pile of trash. If this author’s name had done more than ring a faint bell, I probably would’ve skipped it, too. But I’m very glad I didn’t. This is great to read — not because of what he said about me, but because he found a way to take something he didn’t like said about his work and turn it into a positive. Would that we all could do that.
Of course, I’m going to say yes to this. How can I do otherwise?