That Moment When You Get Your First Review

I received my first review of Bright City about a week ago from Guante:

A debut novel is always an exciting event, and it’s been very cool and inspiring to see DC Edwards break into the spotlight.

“Bright City” is a post-apocalyptic tale of intrigue and adventure, but separates itself from other books with similar descriptions in some surprising and powerful ways (which I won’t spoil here). Its listed genres are “new adult” and “urban dystopia,” and as much as genre labels don’t always work, those two actually feel really appropriate.

The world-building, in particular, is powerful. This is a vision of a future USA that is fantastical, weird, and very sci-fi, but also deeply connected to our world– especially in terms of how the book explores exploitation, colonialism, commodification, and solidarity. I also like how elegantly the book takes on these issues- they’re organically woven into the DNA of the story; so the politics of the book are bold and direct, but always in service of the story.

This is big. I keep going back to read it; I also keep thinking about why reviews are important. I’ve been telling people as they buy the book to leave a review on Amazon or Goodreads, but it’s really sinking in – as a first-time author – how important they are.

Sometimes, writing a book seems infinitely easier than promoting a book. I’m lucky that I have an awesome community that supports me in a lot of different ways: buying the book, buying copies for their friends and colleagues, taking pictures of themselves with the book under the hashtag #BrightCityBook, offering all sorts of marketing tips and tricks.

I think most writers are less than excited to market our own work. As a result, even asking people to review your book feels like you’re pandering or a little too “Please, sir, may I have some more?”

But asking people to review the book isn’t just about caping for likes. As this post explains: “book reviews left by readers on Amazon.com and Goodreads can make a huge difference in the success of an author, especially emerging and mid-list authors who aren’t getting their books reviewed in The New York Times.”

If you’re not sure about how to do a review, Katie Rose Guest Pryal breaks down some solutions and things to consider. And over at She Writes, Patricia Robertson talks about this issue that can prevent people from leaving a review:

They are afraid to give you anything less than 5 stars, especially if they are friends and acquaintances. To them I say, I’d rather have an honest 3 or 4 star review that explains why, then no review. (If all you have are 5 star reviews, readers will suspect that the only people posting the reviews are your friends and family. It’s actually better to have some 3 and 4 star reviews.) Sometimes a book isn’t a genre you like. Say so. This lets others know. If the reason they are not writing a review is because they would give it a one or two stars, then I say thank you for not writing.

Of course, 5-star reviews are wonderful, but I hope, if you read Bright City, that you will take a few moments to share your thoughts on Amazon.com, Goodreads, or your own website or blog. Thanks in advance!

[If it makes you feel any better, I also plan to start taking this advice and writing more reviews of the books I read.] 🙂

 

 

Music to Write By: #BrightCityBook Edition

Sometimes, I get questions about all kinds of aspects related to my writing process: Where do I do the bulk of my writing? Do I write everyday? Where do my ideas come from? What music do I listen to while writing?

I wrote the bulk of Bright City in a booth in a local Panera Bread. And while I don’t write everyday, I wrote Bright City consistently and most substantively over a series of weekends (I had to make weekends work for me because I was working and going to school full-time.)

I listened almost exclusively to jazz while writing; the two Miles Davis albums (Kind of Blue and Bitches Brew) and Street Lady by Donald Byrd let me immerse myself in the world I was creating without getting too distracted by vocals. The only exception was D’Angelo’s Voodoo album. I don’t think I really think I got that album when it first came out 17 (!!!) years ago, but I really connected with it while writing Bright City.

As I prepare to dive into my second book, I wonder what my new writing soundtrack will be. Will I keep some of the same albums, or go in a completely different direction?