The editors of the anthologies to which I have contributed (and sometimes the other contributing authors) like to send me positive reviews of the books in question. In case you haven’t yet been convinced to pick up these anthologies, here are a few reviews that might help you decide:
- Michael R. Collings reviews The Crimson Pact: Volume 1
- Pippa Jay at The Fantasy Book Review reads The Crimson Pact: Volume 2
- Lillian Cohen Moore reviews Candle in the Attic Window
- Nick Bronson of Shock Totem also reviews Candle in the Attic Window
This last review gives me a chance to talk about something I usually avoid: negative reviews. For the most part, I read only reviews other people have sent me because they’re usually positive; I try not to bash my fledgling ego any more than necessary. Mr. Bronson calls my story “Frozen Souls” interesting, but “somewhat pale in comparison to other stories in the collection.”
I feel like I should be worried by this comment, but I’m actually kind of excited. I’ve been trying to break down why, and I think the reasons go something like this:
- Hooray, someone read a story of mine and wrote a review of it! On a real live website! Squee! (No, it doesn’t matter that this has happened before. I still get a thrill!)
- Mr. Bronson makes an excellent point. I wrote “Frozen Souls” eight months ago (trapped in my apartment during a snow storm, appropriately). Although I like the story and stand by it, there are probably some things that I would do differently, now, having more experience as a writer. I also didn’t have the support and superior critiques of an excellent writer’s group then, as I do now, which really does make all the difference.
- I’d rather have a middling story in an excellent anthology than the best story in a crummy anthology. The company you keep is important. And if a story I wrote at the beginning of my time as a writer (writing for publication, anyway) was the best one in an anthology, I would be worried about the quality of that anthology. At this point in my career, my stories are rarely going to be the masthead of any collection. Maybe someday they will be, but that time is not now–and I’m okay with that. I can be content with my stories being good enough. In a few months or years, that won’t be acceptable anymore, and hopefully I’ll have worked past the “gap” and come out the other side. And I can buy my parents that mansion I promised them with the profits from my bestselling novels (I jest. Kind of). If this story is only middling quality, then that’s okay; my writing has improved a lot (I think, hope, wonder) in the last eight months, and will hopefully continue to do so.
- Compared to some of the reviews my fellow contributors received from Mr. Bronson, “interesting but pales in comparison to the other stories in the collection” is a glowing endorsement. Would I rather receive a glowing review from a really kind critic, or a so-so review from a really harsh one? I know which one I consider a bigger compliment!
I’m Sarah Hans, and I like writing bulleted lists. Also: my stories don’t completely suck. Some are even kind of good.