Never Complain, Never Explain…

There come’s a time, in every author’s life, when they get a bad review. And the more successful your book is – the more reviews it garners – the higher the likelihood of those 1* and 2* ones coming in. Just take a look at your favourite author’s Amazon page and you’ll see what I mean. No one is immune. So, here are my top tips for coping with those harsh words…

Top Tips for Dealing with Bad Reviews

Firstly… accept the fact that it is UNREALISTIC to expect everyone to love your work. In life, not everyone will like us, and the same goes for our book babies. People have a perfect right to express their opinion and will freely do so, especially if they have forked out hard-earned pennies to buy  your novel. Try not to take their view personally.

Secondly… Learn to differentiate between the constructive reviews and insulting ones. I always read my bad reviews (not all authors do!) and you become used to spotting a personal or offensive tone. Fortunately, they are rarer. Most reviewers take the time to explain their point of view fairly, and I do take on board the comments that are constructive from those reviews. Really, it’s a gift, being given an insight into how someone else sees your work. “I really wanted to enjoy this book, but…” or “It just didn’t work for me because…” On occasion, some observations have made me reconsider my writing techniques, and question them next time I put finger to keyboard. I truly appreciate the time anyone takes to write a review and understand that if someone has felt disappointed, they need to express why. On the journey to publication I had to take a lot of criticism on board and I don’t see why this should stop, simply because I am now published.

Thirdly, in the words of Kate Moss… Never complain, never explain. DO NOT ENGAGE WITH WRITERS OF BAD REVIEWS. They are entitled to their view. Don’t moan about it. At the same time, do not feel the need to explain or justify yourself. Just let it be and move on.

Fourthly… be mountain-like. Lately I have developed an interest in meditation and one visualisation I do involves looking at a mountain and then becoming the mountain… let me explain: a mountain never changes. It stands solid. Whether it is spring, summer, autumn or winter. Whether it is day or night. Whether it is sunny, rainy, windy or snowing. Whether a visitor to the mountain calls it beautiful – or calls it plain… the mountain is not affected by any of these external changes. It remains strong within itself.
In other words, as long as you are being true to yourself with your writing- and, in my opinion, have an open-mind regarding your agent’s/editor’s advice and revisions – then nothing else matters. Stand firm amidst all the weather and be proud of your work.

Finally… try to keep a sense of humour and perspective. Be grateful! You’ve made it! Your work is actually out there and people are reading it. Okay, some may not like every page, but at least your novels are finally getting an audience which, presumably, is something you have worked very hard for.

And if you want a laugh, here are a few of the best – and worst! – quotes from reviews for one of the books I have written, that overall got a great rating but still picked up some unfavourable opinions:

I devoured this book in a day!

A little slice of paradise.

To say that I LOVED this book would be a huge understatement

Samantha is a funny, talented writer that makes the words jump off the page

 

Don’t waste your time, life is too short

Chewing gum for the mind

Tough going.

Will be avoiding this author in the future

Harsh comments do hurt – of course they do –  but don’t dwell on them. Eventually, you will be able to read them with a wry smile.  I am just bracing myself for the reaction to my eighth novel, released on 5th May, The New Beginnings Coffee Club. It has one of my most favourite characters ever in it  and I very much hope my loyal readers enjoy the story – along with any new readers who might be fans of coffee 🙂 But who knows. Let’s hope I don’t need too many strong americanos when reviews come in!New Beginnings final cover

 

 

Give up or give in?

Over the years, I have sometimes wondered whether it would be kinder to tell aspiring authors to give up. It took me eight years to get my publishing deal with the amazing CarinaUK – six to get my first agent. During that time there were many tears and I’m not a cry baby. Somehow the rejection of writing that comes straight from our core hurts so much. I wrote novel after novel, giving in to the passion for my craft, but time and time again I felt like giving up.

Not one single published friend of mine ever advised that though. And I’m thankful now. Without their support and the encouragement of my family I might never now been enjoying the career of my dreams. It is so true what people say. You could be on the cusp of finding success, just when things get really tough.

 

me don't give up

 

I have four books under my bed that – quite rightly – will never see the light of day. However Mistletoe Mansion was written before my debut Doubting Abbey. My agent and I just couldn’t find a home for it – but it eventually found a publisher who believed in the story and was a Christmas bestseller. So each individual rejection is just that and doesn’t represent the view of everyone else.

It is hard, sending work out, receiving it back unenjoyed. My very first submission, years ago, was to the Darley Anderson Agency. It flew straight back, just before that Christmas, with a standard rejection letter. I can smile now at my dejection. Naively I thought the hard bit was writing the novel. How wrong I was. Trying to bag an agent or publisher is when the real graft starts. And last year I signed with one of their agents.

I can also smile at the times I would flounce off social media, announcing that I needed a break, telling myself that writing was not for me. But the passion gets a grip. It’s like a switch. Once it’s been turned on and you experience the joy of crafting a sentence, paragraph or chapter that you are pleased with, the light just can’t be switched off again.

So, in the end I gave in to my calling. And now I am so glad I did. The years of tears were worth it, despite the new set of challenges that publishing offers such as bad reviews and deadlines!

So I would say, listen to your heart. It will tell you if you really can abandon your dream. And if the answer is no, you are signing up to a writing life for better or for worse, just remember the wise words of the great Samuel Beckett:

“Ever failed? No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better.”

 

Breakfast at Poldark’s!

I am thrilled to announce news of my summer 2016 novel. It is called Breakfast at Poldark’s and is for every woman searching for their very own Aidan Turner!

Poldark big holding cover

No, really it is! Kate Golightly heads off to Cornwall in search of her very own Aidan because… well why not read the blurb below! I can’t wait for you to meet the story’s two very hot heroes and lovely singer Kate!

DREAMING OF THE PERFECT MAN?

Kate Golightly needs to move forward and what better way to do that then with a trip to the Cornish coast with best friend and boss, Izzy.

The sea wind is just what Kate needs to finally relax and begin to let go of her past. Except she’s suddenly got one big reason to panic! She RSVP’d ‘yes’ to the Queen Bee of her high school’s wedding saying she’s bringing her boyfriend (she doesn’t have one) who looks just like Ross Poldark!

With only two weeks to find the Poldark look-alike of her dreams Kate is under a lot of pressure for the Cornish coast to deliver…

A hilarious and moving romantic novel from bestselling author, Samantha Tonge. A must-read this summer!

How to Get Hitched in Ten Days!

I am thrilled to finally share the gorgeous cover to my spring novella, How to Get Hitched in Ten Days! Isn’t it cute? This story is very close to my heart and features lovable Mikey, every girl’s best friend…

 

How to Get Hitched_FINAL

This novella is out on February 11th and is up for preorder now!

Only 89p Amazon UK 

or

$1.99 Amazon US

Also available at other online retailers!

Here’s the blurb!

HOW NOT TO GET THE GIRL…

Meet Mikey, every girl’s best friend – he bakes the creamiest cheesecake, loves movie nights and is a great dance partner.

For Jasmine, Mikey is the perfect flatmate – he owns a 50s diner that turns out the best food around, gives the best bear hugs and amazing romance advice – after all they’re scoping out the same hot guys! So when her boyfriend proposes in the worst possible way, Jazz knows her best friend will be there to pick up the pieces with gourmet popcorn, Pinot sleepovers and a shoulder to lean on.

But Mikey isn’t about to let Jasmine give up on love, and he’s ready to do whatever it takes to mend her broken heart – even if it means helping the one person who sees him as the enemy…

Because at the end of the day, all’s fair in the pursuit of true love… right?

 

 

My Writing Year 2015

Wow. What a year it has been. My summer novel, Game of Scones, was a top ten Kindle bestseller and then won the Love Stories Best Romantic Ebook 2015 award, at a fancy cocktail bar in London.

 

me and victoria

 

I couldn’t ask for more and so appreciate everyone who bought and read the book. Above is a photo of me, on the night, with my lovely HarperCollins editor. I still think I’ve got that smile on my face!

 

Game_of_Scones

 

One of the best things, about 2015, however, had been to meet so many lovely writers and bloggers. I’ve attended events organised by the wonderful Romantic Novelists Association and it’s been lovely to put some faces to names from the internet. Here I am with the fab Cathy Bramley, Trevor Williams, Karen Aldous and Holly Martin.

rna 1

It’s also been a year for meeting things/people that have inspired me – this included a trip to Highclere Castle, as the series Downton Abbey inspired my 2013 debut Doubting Abbey…

downton house

 

… plus a night out in Manchester with the Dutch KLM flight attendant who inspired the character of Henrik in Game of Scones and its Christmas sequel.

me and Frank

 

… and a trip to… Ooh. Mustn’t give too much away! But here is a clue to my spring story, out soon!

american diner

 

Writing-wise – ie the craft itself – 2015 has been an exciting and challenging year. Game of  Scones took my writing in a more romantic direction and I wasn’t sure it was going to work. Plus I’ve had a few dark moments, on receiving revisions from my editor, wondering if I am up to the job. I’ve been challenged and feel/hope my writing has moved forward, otherwise what is the point?

I recalled recently, how my New Year’s resolution always used to be “to get published this year”, back in the old days when I was new to the business and a little naive. I mean, getting published isn’t as simple as that. So many factors out of your control are involved, plus you need a little luck. But of one thing I have no doubt – if you are determined and persevere, you will get there eventually. Your path might just be longer than others. But don’t give up.

Of course, finally getting published, doesn’t mean that all problems and disappointments stop there and whilst 2015 has been a wonderful year for me, I am well aware that you are only as good as your next book – and I have no idea what challenges 2016 will throw my way. Having said that, I already have several pieces of great news that I should be able to share in January, so watch this space 🙂 And thanks, with all my heart, to all the people who have supported me and my writing this year. I’m eternally grateful. Here, have a cocktail on me!

cocktails manchester

 

 

 

 

My Big Fat Christmas Cover!

I am thrilled to reveal the cover for my Christmas novel, My Big Fat Christmas Wedding – out soon! Talk about gorgeously romantic! And I love the jam jars in the fairy lights – very Mama Mia!

This book is the standalone sequel to bestselling Game of Scones, and I can’t wait for you to reacquaint yourselves with feisty scone-maker Pippa, exotic fisherman Niko and suave property developer Henrik – or to meet them for the first time 🙂

So, here it is… shield your eyes against the sparkles! Find the blurb below.

My Big Fat Christmas Wedding cover

Things don’t always run smoothly in the game of love…

Former hot shot city girl Pippa Pattinson loves her new life of rustic simplicity, running a quaint teashop on a sleepy Greek island with her hot fiancé, Niko. But it’s been a quick change to slow living – and you can’t blame a girl for wondering, ‘how did I get here?’

As her Christmas wedding approaches, a trip back to snowy England for her ex’s engagement party makes her wonder if those are wedding bells she’s hearing in her mind, or warning bells. She longs for the excitement of her old London life – the glamour, the regular pedicures. Can she really give that all up to be…a fishwife?

There’s nothing for it but to throw herself into bringing a little Christmas magic to the struggling village in the form of a Christmas fair. Somewhere in amidst the sparkly bauble cakes and stollen scones, she’s sure she’ll come to the right decision about where she belongs…hopefully in time for the wedding…

Perfect for fans of Lindsey Kelk and Debbie Johnson, you won’t want to miss the Christmas Wedding of the year!