I love my family. They love me. They account for 90% of my book sales–so far.

And they’ve written some awesome reviews of The Girlfriend Experience. Their praise is so effusive it turns my head. Of course, I think it’s well deserved. Our side conversations convince me they’re sincere. It would be easy to convince myself I’ve written the perfect book.

But I’m not yet convinced. How do I find the flaws to edit for the print edition? How does one interpret a five-star review from his mother?

One has to dig for clues. Generally they take the form of “don’t be concerned about” or “this doesn’t detract from the story” or “it builds slowly but it picks up.” Reviewers who are friends but not blood relatives are more straightforward but still very kind. They’ve picked up on a number of typos and a couple of unforgiveable technical errors–constructive criticism without seeming accusatory. They’ll all be corrected in the print edition.

Until I get my first review from a total stranger, my best bet at finding the structural flaws will be to test my own misgivings against the comments.

I really worked hard at making this a good book. If a plot line was unclear, or the language awkward, or the flow uneven, I reworked it. I must have read and re-read every word ten times and rewritten half of them.

But at some point the book needs to be born. I published it, even though there were parts that I thought were just “good enough.” After all, even Moby Dick has some dry stretches. Right? And The Lost Symbol reads like a journal article at times.

I know where those “good enough” parts are. And the reviewers found them. They communicated them to me in code. They’re telling me what I already knew, but hoped I could get away with.

All told, there’s a lot of work to do before the next edition. I’m looking forward to it–partly because I miss the writing process, suffering mild post-publish depression, and partly because writing the sequel seems like such a daunting task and I still need time to talk myself into it.

Thanks again to all of you who read my book and were kind enough to review it. Your comments are more valuable than you can imagine.

Even the good ones.