Monday, April 25, 2011

Bad Reviews

Dear Blog:

I see I've been slack about posting again, but thanks to the good people behind BWO (Blogging Without Obligation) my conscience is clear. Sort of. Enough to make me keep posting at any rate.

So Char and I are waiting for reviews of Sirenz. With our pub date approaching only one month off, it's become nerve jangling. Reviews and reviewers have been quite the chat topic of late, and I actually meant to do a post on it when a few weeks back a certain review of an ebook caused a bit of an online frenzy; an author publicly... challenged--is that the right word?--questioned? criticized? all of the above and something more?--a reveiwer's review of her book. It wasn't pretty.

Not that I needed something to get me thinking about reviews, but the situation gave me pause. There are days where I feel invisible, where it seems that no one cares--with the exception of Char and myself--about Sirenz, that no one'll ever read or review it. This is, of course, absurd. Eventually someone will read and review it, so perhaps I should revel in this non-reviewed time while I have the chance. That's like telling a kid to enjoy being a kid while he can because all too soon he'll be an adult with adult responsibilities blah, blah, blah. The kid wants the freedom and independence of adulthood. Responsibility? Meh.

I'm anxious to see reviews, but by this time--especially with my experience of goodreads.com (Oh Goodreads how I love and hate you. How you giveth and taketh away. How you raise my hopes and dash them again...)--I KNOW that every review of Sirenz won't be... glowing. But that's okay. The anxiety over reviews--if they'll come, when they'll come, what kind they'll be--and my luck in being an unsinkable Sagittarius, prompted me to look on the bright side of bad reviews...

SOME  REASONS WHY BAD REVIEWS ARE GOOD IN NO SPECIFIC ORDER...

* A bad review means that SOMEONE READ MY BOOK. It means that they gave it a chance. They took a look at the cover, read the premise, listened to a friend and then GAVE IT A TRY.

* A bad review is a reminder that DESPITE ALL THE RAGING ODDS AGAINST ME, I AM THE AUTHOR OF A PUBLISHED BOOK. I often have to remind myself of what an accomplishment this is.

* Didn't Oscar Wilde (BTW, love this photo of him--I have that hat!) say that not being talked about at all is worse than being talked about badly? One sec--looking that one up. Aha! Here we are: "...for there is only one thing in the world worse than being talked about, and that is not being talked about." Lord Henry says this to the artist Basil Hallward when they're talking about Basil's reluctance to display the picture he painted of Dorian Gray... A bad review means MY BOOK IS BEING TALKED ABOUT and so...

* ...if it's not one person's cup of tea, it could be for someone else. Bad reviews, in their own way, HELP GET THE WORD OUT...

* Bad reviews remind me that EVERYONE IS ENTITLED TO THEIR OPINION--including me. This doesn't mean that I'm going to run out and post bad reviews, but I can certainly consider how and in what forum I offer my opinion.

* A bad review will KEEP ME ON MY TOES, show me where, perhaps, I need to improve. No matter how seasoned a writer is (and I'm still curing in the meat locker here)--there's always room to learn and grow.

* A bad review is an EXCUSE for a pity _______________________ (fill in the blank--chocolate binge, shopping trip, party, taking a day off, etc. etc.)

* Bad reviews provide an EXERCISE IN CONFIDENCE. This is a tough one I know, because its so incredibly hard to stand up in the face of criticism, especially the kind that's cruelly delivered. However, I've had several mentors tell me that a writer has to believe in the worth of his work, regardless of what anyone thinks. And when you think about it, whenever a writer (most writers, anyway) starts a new Work In Progress, there's no guarantee of publication. You write because you must, because you have a story to tell. A review--bad or good--doesn't change that.

Thoughts?

xxxNat

PS--You may be wondering how it could possibly take me so long to finish Julia Karr's wonderful XVI--it's not. My reading of this fabby book has been interrupted by Beta reading, and then bookmark and now invitation making, volunteering, and of course, synchronized swimming... my review coming soon, promise!

PPS--You! Yes, YOU! It's not too late to register for the NJSCBWI Annual Conference! Editors! Agents! Workshops! Lunch! Camaraderie!  The only thing you might not wanna sign up for is that Steampunk 101 presentation. No, you don't want to do that...

9 comments:

  1. love this post. yes I do. I'll add one to it: Given that even The Great Gatsby, Catcher in the Rye, A Wrinkle in Time, what have you, ALL have a bad review here or there, if I never got a single bad review, I think I would not believe the good ones. Gushing is wonderful. Please do gush away. But the gushing is way sweeter if it also feels sincere. The bad reviews somehow make the good ones feel more real. Not everyone can love my book. Even though I really want them to. :)

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  2. Here here! Waiting for reviews is tough, and I applaud you talking about the difficult process and turning it on it's head. Excellent post!

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  3. Love this!! This is the exact attitude one should have about them.

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  4. At first I thought 'that is some serious optimism right there' but you're right. Even a bad review has some silver lining. Good luck and (despite the silver lining) may the bad reviews be sparse ;)

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  5. Thanks for stopping by guys! I try to keep a positive attitude, and I think anyone can get discouraged--the thing, I think, is how to react, how to handle it. Not the easiest thing in the world (and I'm finding handling nothing a whole bunch of weirdness). Right now day to day is pretty much what's working for me--and staying BUSY. Gae--Yes indeed. Goodreads is a scary place. I can't tell you how shocked I was when I saw people saying that Tolkien was boring... (no never!)but it's the whole cuppa tea thing, oooh, speaking of, putting kettle on!

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  6. The democritization of book reviewing--anyone can be an "Amazon Reviewer"--is making it clearer and clearer that reviews are merely opinions and not final pronouncements by Authorities. This gives an individual bad review less punch. That said, if your book warrants publishing in the first place, people are going to like it.

    Love the pink hair, BTW!! Yes, Jane takes a nice photo--she's my sister in law!

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  7. I checked it out on amazon, looks good! I think it helps to have the Look Inside feature. Hmmm, do you mind if I do a reading about it, i.e. ask what the public reception will be like?

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  8. Great post! Something I needed a lot--especially if you read my highly sarcastic post about reviews yesterday. ;)

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  9. Helen QP--thanks! Need to switch it up--Jane took lots of great shots, there's one I really like under this tree with yellow leaves...

    Helen--go for it (email me w/what you get: natalie_zaman@yahoo.com)!

    Elena--LOL! Visited your blog today as well. Totally down with the compare/contrast thing. Stopped myself mid-compare this afternoon. VERY proud of self! (Word to the wise--go check out Elena's blog, you'll be glad you did!)

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