I think, in some shape or form, most of us have been guilty of judging a book by its cover. We also judge places, food and creatures – including human ones – by their appearance. It’s not fair and it can be downright cruel, but it’s an unenviable part of human nature.
I’ve recently had a negative judgement placed on my book and by extension on myself, my integrity and character. I have to say it stung. Actually, it felt like I’d been whacked in the stomach with a baseball bat. It really hurt, and it left me breathless and nauseous with shock. I still feel a little numb today.
Out of the blue, I received an email from someone about my book. He refers to it as “that kind of romance”, although he doesn’t elaborate as to what “that kind” means. He puts into question my actions as an author and a person. The worst part is he hasn’t actually read my book, has done little more than look at the cover, see who my publisher is and read the back blurb. Yet he felt he had the right to make a judgement.
He also thoroughly scoured this website, whether that was before or after the email to me, I’m not sure. I can only guess at what he was looking for, but he most certainly didn’t find anything questionable posted here. I’m completely PG. My publisher does publish erotica, that’s a given. Erotica might not be to everyone’s taste, but there’s a large and flourishing market for it. As for my book, it doesn’t so much as have explicit love scenes. It’s a romance, true, but it’s also a family drama, and I have every reason to be proud of my work. My 87-year-old mother read it and enjoyed it so much she bought a copy to give to her 89-year-old friend.
I don’t personally know the person who sent this email, but I know who he is, and coming from him the way it did shocked and saddened me beyond belief. I might be naive in many ways, but I’m realistic enough to accept that not everyone is going to like my work. Some people might even strongly dislike it, which might disappoint me, but it’s okay, we all have different tastes and no one should ever expect to please everyone. But to receive such a negative reaction from someone who hasn’t even read the book, from someone who, by virtue of who he is, should have a more open mind and gather all the facts before making such a judgement, that hurts. It makes me angry, it disillusions me. I believe my response to him was classy and far more polite than he deserved. I doubt I’ll hear back from him, but if I do, I’ll resist the urge to respond, unless it’s to thank him for his apology. Haha, not holding my breath for that.
So now it’s up to me. I can dwell on the unfairness of it all or I can look for what I can learn from this experience, then move on. I admit, it’s taken some of the edge off the excitement of holding my book in my hands for the very first time. But I refuse to give him permission to make me miserable. I’m hoping one day soon, I’ll be able to laugh at his narrow-mindedness. It’s his loss. He’s missed out on reading a good story. If I do say so, myself. 😉