It’s something every author goes through—anticipating reviews. You find yourself awake late into the night, wondering if your faithful publicist will forward you any reviews throughout your publication month… will they like it? What about the trade publication magazines? And will get more than just 2 stars from RT Book Reviews? These thoughts haunt your mind just like ghosts at an old house!
It’s one of those subjects that can be incredibly touchy, and there’s more than one school of thought of how authors should react to blogger reviews. It’s a community, right? And the reason people blog about books is to talk about them, right? So why not with the author of the novel, too?
All of these things are true, but there’s no quicker way to ruin your online presence than by challenging a reviewer’s opinions. Even though the reviewer might actually be wrong about certain plot points or your intentions, it’s simply not your place to call them out on it. Doesn’t seem fair, right? And it’s totally legit to feel that way!
Something I do try to remind authors of—especially because I don’t send out negative reviews, although I know so many of you find them—is that the reviews your book receive, whether they are in Publishers Weekly, on a book blog or in a local newspaper, are just one person’s opinion; not the end-all-be-all say of who you are as an author or what your book is about. Sure, sometimes reviews can come off as harsh, and that they are taking an opportunity to make fun of something someone spent time working on and a publisher found worthy of publication, but you still can’t tell them that!
I think the best policy, when coming across a negative review, is to not say anything, have a good pout, write down some mean things on a piece of paper (note—a piece of paper, NOT the blog’s comment section) and then throw it away. Vent to it to your friends in person—NOT on the writer’s yahoo loop you belong to. Call your publicist or editor and express your concern—but DON’T email the reviewer directly.
However, I know there are people out there who do feel the need to say something, and in that case, act professional, and in a way thank them: “Thank you for taking the time to read my book and review it on your blog…. I appreciate your honest opinion…” You get the idea.
Remember in Nightmare Before Christmas when Jack overhears everyone wondering why he was so strange, and interested in Christmas rather than Halloween? The whole town turns against him, and finds him weird and no longer the person they turn to…but in spite of it all, in the end, he still finds Sally, who understands and appreciates his curiosity. There will be a reviewer that totally gets your book, and your vision as an author. But there will also be people who don’t—and it’s a part of the business.
This all falls under what I like to call “internetiquette.” And it’s just one more opportunity to remind you that on the internet, IT NEVER GOES AWAY. So the next time you’re wake up in a cold sweat, and stare out at the eerie glow from your computer’s screensaver, don’t let those bumpy thoughts get the best of you, and remember those reviews are just one person’s opinion. And then read the email from me in your inbox, because it’s going to be a good review—and just ignore those Google alerts J
Happy Halloween Everyone! What’s the scariest thing about being a published author? And aspiring author?