Writers get used to being criticized in writing workshops. The point is to make the work better, so we critique, we review, we discuss, we suggest. We take the best advice and we revise. And we revise for days or months or years and we put the work out there again—to a new workshop group, a thesis committee, and eventually, an agent. We brainstorm with the agent, revise some more, get feedback on the revisions, and (can you guess?) revise even more. We send our work to publishers. Someone likes it, buys it, and then we brainstorm with an editor, revise, hear their thoughts, revise again. And then the work that we started back in grad school is becoming a real live book and will be entering the big bad world. And I’m terrified she’s going to get beat up.
It’s not that I can’t take criticism. I can. I mean, it’s not like I walk around yelling, “Criticize me!” but I handle constructive feedback well. I think the difference now is that the book is finished. I’m not turning in a chapter to be workshopped to friends and fellow writers, or a revision to an editor I trust. This is the finished product released for review without any intention of making it better. Final judgement.
This is what I thought about all weekend while I waited for the Publisher’s Weekly review of Hand Me Down that I was told would be in yesterday’s issue. It’s my first official industry review so I was understandably nervous and when I got the news, it was good! The magazine called me a “talented new writer” and said,
“Thorne writes convincingly from an adolescent’s perspective, admitting to having mined her own experiences. The family is believably and sadly dysfunctional, and readers will empathize with each character through their highs and lows…an intriguing new outing.”
So glad! I have read enough of these reviews to know that not all of them are good so I was pleased with what they had to say. Publisher’s Weekly also selected Hand Me Down as one of the featured covers in their table of contents, which was a little bonus.
I now have two blogger reviews up as well, both good:
Jodi at Chapters and Chats says, “With Hand Me Down Melanie Thorne tells such a believable story that leaves you feeling raw and uplifted all at the same time.”
And Brittany at Find Me in a Book says, “I don’t have enough words in my vocabulary to describe how much this book moved me.”
And a handful of Goodreads reviews that are also complimentary, calling Hand Me Down “moving,” “touching,” and “amazing,” and saying things like this that make me feel all warm and fuzzy inside: “This fantastic novel made me laugh, cry, and everything in between.”
Thanks to everyone for their kind words! I hope the good news keeps coming.