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Monday, May 5, 2014

After The Book Deal- "Shutting Out The Voices": Guest Post by Jonathan Auxier, author of The Night Gardener {Giveaway}

I'm pleased to have Jonathan Auxier, author of Peter Nimble and His Fantastic Eyes and The Night Gardener, stopping by today! Jonathan is currently touring across blogs with his guest posts series, After the Book Deal.

The Internet is full of great advice about how to sell a book, but what about after the sale? When my first book came out, I found it was surprisingly hard to find answers to some basic questions. Like most authors, I learned most of the answers through trial and error. And so in anticipation of the launch of my new novel, The Night Gardener, I’ve decided to write down everything I learned so I don’t make the same mistakes twice!

AFTER THE BOOK DEAL is a month-long blog series detailing the twenty things I wish someone had told me before entering the exciting world of children’s publishing. Each weekday from now until MAY 20, I will be posting an article on a different blog. Follow along and please spread the word!

Day Ten: Shutting out the Voices
by Jonathan Auxier

Last week, we discussed the ups and downs of signings and book events. Today, we’ll look at another aspect to publishing: reviews.

Book reviews are tricky. They are clearly an important part of the publishing and reader ecosystem—but what value do they hold for authors? I think reviews can be helpful for authors, but they can also be very, very harmful.

The Internet Hype Echo Chamber
One thing to keep in mind is the nature online conversation. We’ve been trained to tack exclamation points on to every email/Facebook/Twitter sentence in order for people to understand our positive meaning. But where genuine compliments are concerned, this forced enthusiasm can sort of mess with your brain. Instead of someone just saying “I enjoyed your book” they say OMG BEST BOOK EVAR!!!!! Don’t let it go to your head. Your work is not done; you have more stories to tell.

Bad Reviews
So far, I’ve been pretty lucky: reviews of both my books have been very positive. That being said, it’s astonishing how even a lukewarm response (or a single quip in an otherwise positive review) can drive me crazy! I can obsess over every little criticism—and it takes quite a bit of willpower not to respond. (Note to authors: NEVER RESPOND!) To guard against this temptation, I don’t have a Google Alert on my name or my book titles—that stuff all goes to my wife’s inbox. She reads every review and tells me if there are any criticisms I should be aware of. Her rule for what to pass on is simple: “Will hearing it make Jonathan a better writer?” Very rarely is the answer “yes.”

Good Reviews
I’m not going to lie: good reviews feel great. My first book had strong reviews, which was helpful and felt nice. There’s a special thrill to seeing your name inside a publication like the Wall Street Journal—not only does that make for a nice blurb on the paperback, but it stands as irrefutable proof to family and friends that your are, in fact, a “real” author.

One downside to good reviews is that they can leave you feeling very nervous about writing a second book: After Peter Nimble, I was afraid of disappointing readers and critics in a second book. This self-doubt was paralyzing, and led to my next book taking a lot longer to write than it should have. When I talked to other authors about this problem, I learned I was not alone. For me, the only way to move forward was to change the way I thought about reviews, good or bad. My rule: when writing, think of reviews as useless—the opinions of other people will not make you a better storyteller. Once you’ve finished writing, you can go back to caring about reviews.

For my new book, The Night Gardener, I’ve nabbed some STELLAR early reviews. (You can read some here!). And I can say that they have already had a positive impact on the book—more booksellers and librarians are paying attention to the title. And, just as importantly, the publisher is paying attention ... putting energy behind it and spreading the word. Hooray!

I’ll end with some wisdom from CS Lewis on the subject:

“Pleasure in being praised is not Pride. The child who is patted on the back for doing a lesson well [... is] pleased and ought to be. For here the pleasure lies not in what you are but in the fact that you have pleased someone you wanted (and rightly wanted) to please. The trouble begins when you pass from thinking, ‘I have pleased him; all is well,’ to thinking, ‘What a fine person I must be to have done it.’

In summary: ignore the bad; be grateful for the good. And above all, KEEP WRITING.

That’s it for AFTER THE BOOK DEALTomorrow we’ll be talking about when and how to start writing your second book. You can catch up on previous posts (listed below), and please-oh-please spread the word!

AFTER THE BOOK DEAL stops so far:
WEEK ONE: Before Your Book Comes Out 

April 21 – “Finding Your Tribe” @ Shannon Messenger
April 22 – “Do I Really Need a Headshot?” @ Novel Novice
April 23 – “I Hate Networking” @ Charlotte’s Library
April 24 – “A Night at the Movies” @ The Lost Entwife
April 25 –  “Giveaways!” @ Smack Dab in the Middle

WEEK TWO: Your Book Launch
April 28 - “Can I have Your Autograph?” @ Haunted Orchid
April 29 –  “Cinderella at the Ball” @ The O.W.L.
May 1 – “Being Heard in the Crowd” @ The Misbehavin’ Librarian
May 2 - “The Loneliest Writer in the World” @ Shelf Employed

The Night Gardener
This much-anticipated follow-up to Jonathan Auxier’s exceptional debut, Peter Nimble and His Fantastic Eyes, is a Victorian ghost story with shades of Washington Irving and Henry James. More than just a spooky tale, it’s also a moral fable about human greed and the power of storytelling.
The Night Gardener follows two abandoned Irish siblings who travel to work as servants at a creepy, crumbling English manor house. But the house and its family are not quite what they seem. Soon the children are confronted by a mysterious spectre and an ancient curse that threatens their very lives. With Auxier’s exquisite command of language, The Night Gardener is a mesmerizing read and a classic in the making. Amazon

Peter Nimble and His Fantastic Eyes
“Now, for those of you who know anything about blind children, you are aware that they make the very best thieves. As you can well imagine, blind children have incredible senses of smell, and they can tell what lies behind a locked door—be it fine cloth, gold, or peanut brittle—at fifty paces. Moreover, their fingers are so small and nimble that they can slip right through keyholes, and their ears so keen that they can hear the faint clicks and clacks of every moving part inside even the most complicated lock. Of course, the age of great thievery has long since passed; today there are few child-thieves left, blind or otherwise. At one time, however, the world was simply thick with them. This is the story of the greatest thief who ever lived. His name, as you’ve probably guessed, is Peter Nimble.”  Amazon

JONATHAN AUXIER writes strange stories for strange children. His new novel, The Night Gardener, hits bookstores on May 20—why not come to his book launch party? You can visit him online at where he blogs about children's books old and new.

Win a finished copy of 
The Night Gardener!
Abrams/Amulet has awesomely offered up one copy for one winner.
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-ends 5/16
-must be 13+, one free entry per person
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Kristin Lenz said...

My daughter really enjoyed Peter Nimble. Great to see you have a new book out!

Michael G-G said...

I am loving this series by Jonathan. I also love so much about The Night Gardener: Irish orphans, crumbling English manor house, curses, and ghosts. Oh yes please!!!

anne s. said...

It's always fun to read ghost stories, but to read one that has a moral is even better!