Friday, January 14, 2011

Don't Pull Your Punches, Not on My Account... Ow!

I don't really feel like writing today, especially since I read one of the WORST (as in harshest) reviews of ALMOST TO DIE FOR this morning on Red House Books. Check it out. I'm not saying it's unfair, it's just kind of brutal. It's never good, for instance, when the one thing the reviewer liked about the book is its cover. The one thing, in point of fact, I have zero control over.


I suppose it's better than saying they only liked the font... but wow. I think, too, one of the reasons that this review hit home for me is that, most of the time, I *know* when I've written a book that isn't my best. It's not something you're ever allowed to say out loud, and, you always kind of hope that no one else will notice. In fact, with ALMOST I've been quite taken aback by the fact that Publisher's Weekly liked this book enough to give it a starred review, when I personally believe EVERYTHING the reviewer at Red House had to say (before she said it.) I worked hard on the book, but I thought it was fairly deeply flawed from the beginning. And, you know, try as you might, not every book you write is going to be your best.

The Emperor, in case you wondered, has no clothes.

But, reading that first thing this morning kind of sucked the life out of my already fairly weak desire to work today. Alas.

Now don't feel compelled to tell me how awesome I am or run out and post "you're so wrong" over at Red House Books. Well, okay, you can tell me I'm awesome, but you know... don't harrass the reviewer. She's just expressing her honest opinion, which I actually respect. I post critical reviews of books by colleagues all the time. I think it's part of the deal I signed up for when I took on this writing gig.

It's all part of the life of a published writer. You get to take the good times (like finding out yesterday that ALMOST will be published in Chinese!) and you take the kicks in the teeth, too. I don't get mad when people honestly express their opinion of my work. It's sometimes demoralizing to read, but what can you do? If I could write a book that pleased everybody all of the time I'd be a best seller....

...Oh. Hmmmm.



Kelly Swails said...


Rhianna said...

Now that is the kind of review I look for and try to write. She's not being mean or nasty, just honest. She's explaining why the book didn't work for her. Many of the things she points out (ie. ancient vamp + teenager + romance = eww) could certainly have bothered me too. As it happens I thought it was interesting and entertaining.

Often times when a reviewer points out real issues with a book's story that they didn't like it actually sells me on a book. When pet peeves of mine about the actual craft of the book (ie. purple prose) that's when I know I'll hate it.

That's the difficulty with reviews. Knowing when you're just being an arse versus being genuine and honestly offering what may or may not work for another reader. And I'm impressed with how you've handled the critisism with class and honesty yourself. Kudos! *hugs ya too*

Eleanor said...

I was told decades ago by an editor that what sells books is the cover and word of mouth. Per this guy, reviews don't matter.

Eleanor said...

It is a wretched review. Do something nice for yourself, and stick pins in a voodoo doll.

Eleanor said...

PS on the above. Don't stick pins in yourself.

I just bought Almost To Die For for my Nook. It took me three times to get the order processed, so it's possible I just bought it three times. Anyway, the awful review made me want it.