This may sound a bit strange but the one thing that hadn’t occurred to me when The Seven Letters was published was that people might actually read it. I imagined a handful of people, mostly friends, might pick it up, but somehow I had it in my mind that the general public wanting to read it would be a step too far. Perhaps the isolation of writing had somewhat fogged my brain and I had most definitely lost a ‘connection’ with the outside world during the writing process.
How wrong I was. The first reader feedback arrived within ten hours from Michelle Meador, a Blogger in the USA! I was amazed. Then, within twenty-four hours, I was inundated. A buzz was being created around my book and not just here in the UK, but all over the world. It was a wake-up call about the power of the Internet but also how fast word spreads thought the reading fraternity.
Then came the reviews. Each one was a wonderful, uplifting and often touching reassurance that the work I had put into The Seven Letters, including four years of research and all those hours shackled to the computer, was for good reason.
Since then I’ve discovered that many people do not realise how good reviews can mean so much to an author and some do not understand how much a bad review hurts. Writing a novel is a long process and it is not to be undertaken lightly. There is a great deal of dedication involved and personal sacrifice comes fitted as standard. I gave up a good income to write my book and I had to learn to cut my cloth accordingly, I stared longingly at handbags and shoes instead of buying them, but ask any writer and they will tell you that the drive to write is all consuming. Personally, I needed to tell the story of the forgotten women of the Resistance in France and, once I began to piece together what I had discovered, it would not be silenced
Over the past year my book, The Seven Letters, has gathered momentum and it now has a following that has exceeded all my expectations. I still cannot believe that it’s been read by thousands of people.
The many book groups I have attended and the various talks I have done have opened my eyes to how Claudette’s story has impacted on people and meeting my readers face-to-face has become my new favourite thing. They all love seeing the author in person and I am equally fascinated by their take on the plot, characters and themes even if, sometimes, I find myself inwardly screaming: ‘No, you’ve got Claudette’s motivations all wrong!’ or ‘The Matt thing had loads of clues!’ The funny thing is, readers often ask me what happened to the characters after the end of the book, and I have no idea because I haven’t written their story.
Of course people aren’t always complimentary about an author’s work. It’s impossible to please all the people all of the time, but I wish people would be kinder. I’ve met really great authors who have given up because they were upset by bad feedback. Writing is a craft, long in the learning, it takes bravery to put your work forward and we must never forget that it’s a window to the soul, it always comes from the heart.
I often see unhelpful reviews of books and I wonder if the writer thinks the author is a machine who just churns out words. Just one injurious line can seriously damage a career. Recently, I saw a comment under a newly launched science fiction title: ‘I don’t like science fiction so I’ve marked this as a one star.’ I felt so sorry for the author who had his book marked down because of a reader’s personal reading preference!
As my next book goes into production it is given wings by the people who have loved my writing. Their kind words, lovely feedback and great reviews have kept me buoyant and I really appreciate all the encouragement. For every person who has told me they loved The Seven Letters, or who have taken time out to write a review, my heart has been truly warmed. For that, I will always be incredibly grateful.
Jan Harvey’s new book will be released in October 2018. To follow its progress please do
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or contact Jan through her website.
Very soon you will be able to pre-order your signed copy.