By Ekta R. Garg

February 24, 2022

The Arc by Tory Henwood Hoen

Release date: February 8, 2022

Genre: Women’s fiction

There are plenty of memes online about how seeing a person reading a book you loved is sort of like making a new friend or a handshake or something warm and fuzzy like that. But what about when we see the promotion of a book we didn’t like? What if we see ads and newsletters and “Most Anticipated” lists hyping that tome? How are we supposed to feel then?

Because I’m a Reviewer, an Editor, an Author, and a Dreamer of books and stories, I subscribe to several bookish newsletters. Read them long enough, and you’ll tend to see some overlap. The ones from the publishers, in particular, love to get excited—exclamation marks and all—about their latest releases. There are also the book club newsletters that declare some books a “must read” or “brilliant” or “heartwarming” or some other buzz-inducing term.

I didn’t like The Arc, that much is clear. It’s also clear that, as far as the industry is concerned, I might be in the minority on that opinion. And while that makes me a little miffed, it’s also encouraging.

My goal in my writing and my career as a published author is to amass a fan following to the extent that even if some people don’t like my books, the people in my orbit love it and share it and hype it up. Book awards are wonderful, and being able to claim that one’s book is on a bestseller list somewhere is fun—although those lists are skewed and, some say, biased—but for me it’s about the engagement with readers. That connection. That email or social media post or (now that events are starting to happen in person again) that face-to-face encounter where a person says, “Your book meant something to me.”

As a single reviewer with my own little corner of the internet, my opinion of The Arc doesn’t matter in the grander scheme of the book’s performance (I’m definitely nowhere near an influencer; not yet, anyway.) There are some reviewers on Amazon and other outlets who agree with me about the book. But the media and publishing outlets with more push and clout are encouraging readers to read and buy the novel, and they are.

That is the long-term dream for me. I want people to get excited about my work; I want them to share it and pass it from one person to the next. I want to watch my stories and books light up reading circles like a series of firecrackers attached to one another, popping and delighting and maybe even making people shriek a little along the way.

The Arc wasn’t for me, but the dream of deep reader engagement—the way this book is doing it—is. Onward!