A few weeks back, I mentioned something called the “Immerse or Die” report — which is basically where this guy gets on his treadmill and starts reading a book. If he finds three glaring errors that pull him out of the story, he stops reading and marks the book as failed. If he makes it all the way to the end of his 40 minute treadmill run, the book passes. Simple enough, right?
I was a bit hesitant about sending in Imminent Danger, since A) harsh criticism makes me sad, and B) the reader is a 50 year old man, and thus not exactly my target audience. But then I thought “what the hell” and sent it in anyway.
Which was an … interesting decision. Spoiler alert: Imminent Danger did not survive the Immerse or Die report. You can read the report for yourself here.
So here’s where we get to the “take bad reviews with a dash of salt” part. Obviously, I was bummed out. In an ideal world, everyone would love my book. Not going to happen, of course, but it’s a nice dream. So I was feeling pretty down on myself as I started to read his review.
Then I finished reading the review, and I wasn’t down on myself anymore. In his review, he pinpoints three details in the first chapter that made him stop reading the book. Damn, right? Those must have been some pretty massive, glaring flaws. Except they’re not. Here are the earth-shattering problems he found:
- “fellow high school classmates” is redundant (as in, classmates implies “fellow”, so both words weren’t necessary)
- high schools start at 9am, not 8am
- Eris is facing the trees, and then gets dragged in backward (did she turn around at some point? it’s not stated)
Points #1 and #3 are actually really helpful, because he’s absolutely right, and those two things (redundant language and keeping track of where my characters are) are things I will look out for in future books/editing. Point #2, however, is just plain wrong. According to the US National Center for Education Statistics, the average high school start time is 8am. Here’s the link if you don’t believe me. But I digress.
Basically, he stopped reading the book because of A) a wording choice, and B) a mix-up in which direction Eris was facing. Which is fine. I, personally, tend to stop reading books due to larger issues, like the plot not making sense, or glaring spelling issues, or an unlikable main character … but hey, different people are different!
So, all in all, I’m content with my decision to submit Imminent Danger to the Immerse or Die Report. Nothing ventured, nothing gained, right? Did his review frustrate me? Absolutely. Will I be reading his books, or visiting his site again? Definitely not. We obviously have completely opposite views on what makes a story good.
At the end of the day, the only thing you can really do when you get a bad review is read it thoroughly and:
- Pick out the legitimate criticisms and learn from them, and
- Ignore the rest
Now I just have to keep telling myself that!
Unrelated media of the day:
More excellent book dedications …
I Am, by Matthew Hubbard
The Land of Stories, by Chris Colfer
It’s all rather subjective. Immerse or Die, in particular, has an unusually specific criterium when it comes to examining one’s work, which is deep PoV. I do enjoy deep PoV (both reading and writing it), but think the emphasis on that alone can be misleading. Douglas Adams springs to mind here…
Oh, and I love your books 🙂