I understand that Waiting for Ethan doesn’t appeal to everyone. While I was writing it, I attended several writing classes where my pages were critiqued. From my classmates’ feedback, I learned that my main character Gina rubs some readers the wrong way. Additionally, I had sent my manuscript to several agents who read the entire thing and passed on it. As one agent put it: “Your protagonist is too dumb for too long to keep my sympathy.”
The Goodreads reviewer’s criticism was basically the same. Although I was used to it, seeing it there in writing as the only review sent my confidence and spirits spiraling downward. Making things worse was that in summarizing the plot, the reviewer gave away the entire story, including the “surprise” ending that I had worked so hard to think of. I was convinced that because of the bad review and revelation about the plot, other readers wouldn’t be interested in giving my novel a chance.
“Shake it off,” advised my husband, who rarely lets anything bother him. “You can’t do anything about it anyway.”
What I couldn’t do was stop worrying about it. I talked to friends about the review. “It’s really hard to find. No one will see it,” one said. Another sent a sweet text urging me to “focus on the good parts” of the review as there were a few complimentary lines.
Usually I am the type of person who would do exactly that, but I was already feeling vulnerable. Because Waiting for Ethan was coming out as an ebook/print on demand, I had a gnawing feeling that my publisher didn’t really like it and was humoring me by publishing it. The Goodreads review made it impossible to ignore that feeling, and I was nervous about what would happen when more people read and reviewed it.
To date, 27 readers have reviewed it on Goodreads, giving it an average rating of 4 out of 5 stars. The rating on Amazon is even higher: 4.8 out of 5 stars. The first review Waiting for Ethan received remains its worst. While readers’ positive reviews and ratings made me feel good about my book again, they weren’t enough to quiet the condemning voice in the back of my mind that reminded me that my debut wasn’t good enough to be published traditionally or sold in bookstores. There was only one thing that silenced that loudmouth bully, a positive review from Kirkus. Unlike the first Goodreads reviewer, Kirkus liked my main character. They called her charming and charismatic. They also referred to my novel as a page-turner.
When I read the Kirkus review, I realized that just because my publisher produces Waiting for Ethan as an ebook doesn’t mean it isn’t good enough to be stocked on the shelves at Barnes & Nobles or Books-A-Million. I now have peace of mind from knowing a well known, trusted icon in the industry has positive things to say about my novel, even if it is only available online.
“Fans of romantic beach-reads will find that this book’s charismatic heroine makes it an engrossing page-turner.” – Kirkus Reviews