Ah, the life of an author. All glamour and fun, you say?

Well. Not when you get your first negative trade review. Like, the kind that takes your book down all the way.

Back in the trenches (ah, the safe, anonymous trenches before your writing comes out into the world), I’d gotten plenty of rejections, like most others. But they were never particularly scathing. Many were actually filled with the most glowing compliments. (Sometimes those made it worse).

Now, this is different, because this is public. The book is finished. No more re-do’s, not on this one. And, to top it off, this review didn’t hold back. Bam.

Of course I felt the reviewer missed the whole point of the story, and so much more. Of course, I was devastated. There was — and is — a part of me that wonders if the reviewer is right, and my book is not worthy. There is another that reminds me that this one reviewer, even a Big Deal Industry one, doesn’t hold all the answers, and that maybe no single reader does.

But once I got over that first OUCH? I don’t know. I felt freer. Stood a little straighter. I am kind of feeling like a badass. In some ways, this makes me a real author, you know? Check out my first battle scar.

Some things I’ve learned today:

There will be people who despise this book. This book will get on some people’s nerves, leaving them frustrated and angry. Boy have I learned it now. But that, my friends, is going to have to be A-Okay with me, isn’t it?

What else have I learned today though?

I’ve learned that there will be people – not friends or family – total strangers – better yet, industry professionals, who love CASTLE OF CONCRETE.

I got another review today — a STARRED ONE — from Foreword Reviews, to be published in May/June. This one gave a perfectly thorough overview of the plot, without any spoilers, and mentioned the themes and the issues my book took on.  Here are some excerpts I am so proud and grateful to share:

“In Katia Raina’s fascinating and sympathetic Castle of Concrete, the concerns of young adulthood are amplified tenfold against a background of historical upheavals. … [A] riveting story about growing up in dark political times.”

What a day. What a life, the crazy life of an author. And it’s continuing to grow on me!

SCBWI critiquing
This weekend was the first time I got to visit a Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators Conference as an author. And I got to critique the manuscripts of fellow writers! And they even seemed excited about my comments and suggestions! Yay!


  1. Joanne Fritz

    Yes, this indeed makes you a real author, Katia! Congratulations! I know that sounds weird, but once you’ve had a review of any kind, once your book is released to the world, it’s no longer just your story. It becomes everyone’s story.

    And I must tell you that I knew Melissa Marr before she was published. And for a short while after she was published we were still friends (until she got all busy being a Writer while I was a mere bookseller). But one piece of advice she blogged about back then was “Don’t read your own reviews.” Ever! Let your agent read them (if you have an agent) and only tell you about the good ones.


  2. Ah, but the temptation!!! Still, I get it. Either don’t read your own reviews or develop thick skin of a badass. I’ll let you know how it’s going to go for me! 😉


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