Thursday, October 14, 2010

Thoughts That Go Bump In the Night…

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?


  1. Hi Danielle. The scariest thing to me about being a debut author is first of all...what if the book doesn't sell well. What if I don't do a good job promoting. But then I worry about bad reviews and how I'll handle it if that should happen. When I think too much on this and find myself getting worried, I think about how lucky I am to be in the position to even worry. And then I go back to what's really important. I love writing. I love creating my world, so I'll focus on that and cross my fingers that the reviews will all be positive and that I'll have the grace to handle the ones that aren't.

  2. For me, it's continuing to write sexy, adventurous, fun, and unique, yet same-world books in a Single Title series. I want to gain more fans, but not lose the ones I already have as I add to the werewolf saga. :)

  3. Good morning Danielle! Love the post. The scariest thing about being an author is wondering whether my readers will like the next book as well as the last series. I've learned when I quit worrying about reviews and just write what I love then my readers love what I write! But please keep sending those wonderful reviews! My ego loves getting them!

  4. I don't believe it, Danielle! I thought the reason I never received a bad review from you was because I never got any! Why did you pop my bubble! :-)

    Very well-said post! I've certainly had my share of reviewers that I wanted to snap at, but alas, never have.


  5. The scariest thing for me (I'm pre-pubbed) is when my agent sends out my fulls to editors who request them.

    There's been a few, so I'm now, like, "Oh gosh. What if they hate it?" It's a bit to distract myself, I just keep writing that next novel. Or that next sequel. Or just anything to keep my mind off it.

    I bet that when/if I ever get pubbed, I'd be scared of "what if it doesn't do well?" . . .

  6. Anita--that is a great frame of mind to stay in--create teh world you want to create, and write the best story you can! The promoting and sales are important, but what matters is you tell the story you want to tell. I know you'll be a success!

    Terry--I'm sure this is a concern for many single-title authors, and I think you've done a great job keeping your unique wolf world fresh enough for your devoted readers to want to return to, and exciting enough to get more people interested!

    Carolyn--Awesome advice, write what you love! I'm so glad that you do. I know I'll have many more positive reveiws to send your way! :)

    Amelia--Sorry to burst your bubble!! Looking forward to your Spring release.

    Lynn--I think it's normal to be nervous when your book is being sent out! But having the availability to escape into your current projects must be a great relief! Thanks for stopping by!

  7. I was worried about reviews at first, but since the ones I've read have been great, that fear is abating. Slightly.

    I'm currently worried that readers won't love my second book as much as they loved the first. Entirely new worries. Yay!

  8. Hi Danielle! To me, the scariest thing about having a debut novel being released early next year is that your private imagination suddenly becomes very, very public - and something to be judged.

    Great advice to avoid the negative reviews!

  9. Very true, Danielle. If I see a bad review I want to mentally burn the reviewer at the stake. :> But yes, it's just their opinion. I know there's some books I hate that others enjoy.

    What matters is what the readers think.

  10. Good advice, Danielle. I can take almost any criticism except those that slam me for things I have no control over, like the cover art. I'm the writer, not the graphic designer! Okay, so there, i said it and won't have to yell at any reviewers :-)

    The scariest thing about being a writer is not being a writer because it always feels like you're one book away from unemployment.

  11. Olivia--I think the reviews have shown that everyone is so excited for your next book!

    Tamara--That's interesting, I had never thought of it as making something private, publlic; but that is very true! And very bold and brave of all authors who share these things with readers.

    Linda--Very true, to each their own! Looking forward to your new book in the Spring :)

    Shana--haha, isn't it funny what can sway someone's opinion (even if it's all because of a sexy cover)?! I can't wait to see what you have coming next!

  12. The scariest thing about being a debut author is hard to pick, because there are a lots of scary things... That people will like my book and I'll never write anything as good. That I'll never write anything more, period. That somehow my book will damage somebody rather than boost them through their rough patches. That my mom will be ashamed of the hot scenes. That my daughter... You get the idea. One thing I do not worry about are bad reviews. In contests, I was often a three judge entry, which was explained to me as a function of a strong voice. And my writing isn't perfect. Somebody out there is going to not like my voice AND pick up on the imperfections. And if I can be PAID to write 100,000 words and enjoy every minute of it, the reviewer is certainly entitled to put in his or her honest 500 words in response.

  13. Right now the scariest thing about being a writer is deadlines. Of course being a writer one of the best things to have is a deadline. Go figure! Ok, back to work...

  14. The scariest thing about being published is seeing lots of your books on the bookstore shelves... just sitting and waiting because no one knows it's there....