I’ll know I’ve made it when something in the books industry moves fast for me. Or, at the very least, at an average pace—I’d settle for that. So far, no such luck. Agencies and publishers seem to exist within a bubble of space that time can’t access.
Take the latest example, Publishers Weekly’s review of Dead Weight, which, happily, posted today. A lovely surprise, and I’ll get to that below, but first I must tell you how long the 150-word write-up took the reputable outlet. Not days. Not weeks. Months. And months. And months. I submitted a typo-ridden first pass of the manuscript to PW back in November of last year. If you’re counting, that’s nine months! The book’s been out for seven, for crying out loud.
About three months ago, I received an e-mail from PW that explained Dead Weight was under consideration for review. Oh, that’s cool, I thought, as any author would. After all, PW is the premier outfit for book reviews, and they’re picky about the reviews they do. To quote them directly, “Of the hundreds of self-published titles received each month, only a handful of the very best are selected for review.” Simply being chosen for a possible review therefore is something of an honor. A month or so go, I learned that they had decided to review Dead Weight, which was also a thrill. And now the review is posted.
I’ve read horror stories about PW reviews, especially as they relate to self-published authors. Words like vicious and relentless and demoralizing were thrown around in blog posts and message forums, and as a result I’ve braced for the worst. But here we are and the finished write-up is generally pretty positive. Some highlights, minus all the spoilers.
A “… gritty, cinematic post-apocalyptic thriller.”
A “… tense journey.”
“Despite some loose ends, the work will broadly appeal to fans of breathless end-of-the-world action sequences.”
The harshest criticism in the review is that the premise is “almost absurd.” Which, if you’re a cynic, yes, it’s true. In the same way that most fiction is pretty absurd. One of my favorite books of all time, I Am Legend, is about a dude who singularly battles vampires at the end of civilization. Also, you know, absurd—until you read it.
So that’s two reviews. Kirkus and Publishers Weekly. The two most reputable places out there. And Dead Weight survived. It’s a win, people. I’ll take it.
One last note about the PW review. The bulk of it is not a critique. It’s a summary. With spoilers. That shit ain’t cool. If you’re okay with that, here’s a link: