Sunday, July 10, 2016

Some magpie behaviour...

A friend recently had some toxic blow-back from a book review she posted. The author took exception to this person's view of the book and got in touch personally several times to express their disapproval. This is incredibly poor form, and behaviour that won't win you any friends long term. People tend to remember when you tore a strip off them, and not in a good way. And if reviewers are trying to get a rise out of you, then rising to the bait is achieving their ends not yours. Truly, the best policy is to never respond. Writer Maggie Stiefvater has a classy attitude to reviews good and bad, that takes the sting out of the one star ones and and demonstrates why getting some negative response can actually be desirable.

And underling Maggie's point, agent Janet Reid (and friend) had this to say

Jessica Snell picked up the thread on book reviews (and how readers find books) with this:
Although many of the books I read are ones I've heard of via word-of-mouth (mostly from my brother and my mom, honestly; I know and trust their taste), I probably find most of my books via book reviews.

And the thing is, those book reviews don't have to be positive. Sometimes the reviewer doesn't like the book, but if she's a good reviewer, she'll say *why* she doesn't like it, and I'll know whether or not that reason would be a deal-breaker for *me*. Sometimes I know I'd like the book for the very reason the reviewer hated it, and I'll go ahead and pick it up.

So, I guess what I'm saying is: dear authors, don't be too discouraged by bad reviews. Well-written bad reviews might get you just as many readers as the good ones.

Very very true. One of our sayings back in my publicity days was "Get reviews. Good or bad, doesn't matter."

Now it's even more important because any mention of a book increases its discoverability.

Janet Reid has also made a few good comments that resonated with me, on a range of other issues. The first is about marketing your books. It's a long game folks. Of course all authors think their own book is an incredible work of heartbreaking genius, and even if they are making an objective assessment and are right, no self respecting reader is going to take that on face value. They want to hear it from someone they trust who has no vested interest in the sale/purchase of the book.

And then there's the one about when publishers give off warning signals  that the ship isn't quite so ship shape. Number 6 especially gave me pause - Publishing is Broken; We're Going to Fix It.  Confidence is a good quality in a entrepreneur. So is iron clad optimism.  Hubris is not.  Someone who tells you they're going to fix an industry they've never worked in is textbook hubris . I recognized this one...I'd heard it before and that hadn't worked out so well then either. If someone says this to you, wait to see their fix in action before jumping on board. Do your homework people. Ms Reid's blog is a good place to start.

And last but not least this one - perhaps the most sobering of all my links today - which pretty much concludes with  'Bottom line: it's a whole lot harder to stay published than to get published'. That's a hurdle (or dark long corridor of hurdles) that you can't imagine when you are working so hard on breaking in, but it's a reality for a significant proportion of all writers, and an issue that many mid-career writers grapple with. Getting published isn't a lifetime pass in to the publishing world, or a guarantee of future publication. More on this I think next time.....

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