You know you’ve made it when you suck in German.
Last week Dusty talked about Amazon reviews and author reactions to them that are sometimes misguided if not downright crazy. Dusty mentioned Tess Gerritsen, who has also written about negative reviews on her blog a few times, and she and I recently agreed via email that a good old fashion EXPLETIVE DELETED to an empty room can do a lot to cleanse the soul.
Good reviews are wonderful and make me momentarily feel as if I might actually know what I’m doing when I sit down to write a book, but the key word here is "momentarily."
Bad reviews, however, seem to settle in deep and simmer for awhile — perhaps even forever — a constant reminder that I truly, truly suck and should probably give up this fantasy of ever being a "real" writer.
I like to pretend that I can simply shrug them off, but I think I’m fooling myself. What’s worse is that I can’t find it within me to ignore the particularly depressing one-star monstrosities. They’re the proverbial train wreck that I can’t stop gaping at — except that I don’t just happen upon them. I actually seek them out.
Seem hard to believe?
I subscribe to a service called Google Alerts. It’s a pretty spotty little service, but the idea behind it is that every time your name is mentioned on the web, Google notifies you and gives you a link to the page that mentions you.
Last week, I got a notification that my name was mentioned on Audible Germany. This isn’t all that surprising considering I have an audio version of my book for sale there called DEVIL’S KISS (the German title for KISS HER GOODBYE). When I went to the page, I discovered I had a few reviews for the book and, surprise, surprise, one of them was a one-star.
So what did I do? Did I shake my head and just walk away?
Believe it or not, being the glutton for punishment I am, I actually copied the one-star review, written in German, took it over to my favorite translation website, Babelfish, and pasted it into the translator.
This is what popped out:
A book of point of zero, which was to be borne only by the speaker at all. A completely not-saying banal mixture of likewise banal already Trade Union of German Employees nature works such as
Sutherlands/Roberts Flatliners (this nevertheless importantly more excitingly) and Steven Kings pseudophilosophical blood Erguessen…Completely unclearly that this ‘ work ‘ found at all a publisher and
then even still into the lists of sales of Audibel succeeded, in order to bore our brains… Recommend the money to save!
Now, there’s enough in that ridiculous "translation" to pretty much get the point across. This guy thought my book sucked, big time.
So what exactly was I thinking here? Why on earth did I take it upon myself to translate this review in the first place? Am I a complete masochist or what?
Fortunately, the same website had a couple of five-stars, one of which I feel duty bound to reprint here:
This ‘ Hoer’ book has still somewhat differently than most of them, because according to my opinion reality, dream, fantasy, its and Nichtsein devoured so closely with one another is that one can become dizzy and the own imaginative power thus no borders are set. It works
still for a very long time after…
Outstanding read. The individual characters come super more rueber and before the mental eye run off the book than film proper. For people, which do not only believe in the things those it see can, must. Much pleasure.
I’m not sure what a "Hoer" book is (it sounds a bit like a Long Island working girl), but the final words, "Much pleasure" are enough to give me that momentary reprieve from literary self-loathing I crave.
Yet despite my own pleasure, the phrase Recommend the money to save! (complete with exclamation point) from the one-star review keeps creeping back into my brain and, let’s face it, it’s my own goddamn fault for translating the sucker in the first place.
The saving grace here is something that all of us who have managed to get into print have to remember: we have reviews.
Good or bad, it’s truly a wonderful thing that we have reviews at all, and I’ll take a bad review any day over not being published at all. A bad review is proof that I’ve made it. A bad review in German is proof that I’ve REALLY made it, because I can thank my lucky stars that people in Germany are actually reading my book. In fact, I just got a royalty check from that amazing country, so you definitely won’t hear me complaining.
So, go ahead, bring on those bad reviews. Because no matter what they say, I know I am blessed to be doing what I love………..
So now, for the writers in the crowd, it’s your turn. Post a Bablefish translation of your favorite review, good or bad. I just love to read those things.
Oh, and while I’m here, I guess I should plug KISS HER GOODBYE, which was released in mass market paperback here in the U.S. yesterday and can be found at your favorite bookstores and, I’m told, your local Walmart.
I guess I should brace myself for more reviews…