I’m not naming the publication or reviewer (though will say the review is not, to my knowledge, online), because obviously I don’t want to send you off to read something which basically says my book is not worth reading and also because I recognise, as a reviewer myself, that a reviewer must write honestly about their response to a book. The review is not intended to stroke the author’s ego, or the reviewer’s, but to inform potential readers and purchasers.
Anyway, in this instance I was able to get over the negative review fairly quickly because:
a) I’ve been fortunate to get lots of positive reviews for the book.
b) I’m a reviewer myself so do understand that sometimes a negative review is needed.
But I wanted to reflect a little on what an author can or should do when they receive a negative review. Let’s assume that the reviewer has said your characters are one-dimensional, or your plot is thin, or that your rhyme is forced (I had a review like that once and it hurt till I remembered I had used that phrase myself for someone else’s work). Anyway, the reviewer is not a huge fan of your book, and now s/he’s shared that message with the world.
The first thing to do, if it will make you feel better, is to tear the review into tiny little pieces and burn them, or (if it is an online review) throw things at the monitor. Whinge to your mother, your husband or your best friend. Drink a glass of wine and eat a block of chocolate.
Then get over it.
The truth is, every writer gets a bad review sometime. And a heap of bad reviews could affect your sales. However, the truth is the success of your book does not depend on glowing reviews. Not every purchase decision is made based on reviews there are many consumers, librarians and booksellers who do not have the time to inclination to read reviews. There are also many people who will seek out a book and read it because of, rather than in spite of, bad reviews. They want to see if the reviewer is right.
There are two more things you should do. Do consider, once you’ve calmed down, whether the negative comments the reviewer made have any relevance. Can you learn from the comments they’ve made to avoid making the same mistakes next time? Also, have you read the review thoroughly? The negative review may, in fact, just be a negative sentence or phrase. The reviewer who said my rhyme was forced, also, if I remember rightly, said she liked the storyline. She didn’t hate the book – she was just telling it as she saw it.
Can you get the reviewer to change their mind? No. It is considered bad etiquette to contact the reviewer about a review . Remember a book review is one person’s opinion, not a personal favour to you, the author – and it is also not a debate. Unfortunately, you are going to have to accept that this particular reviewer doesn’t like your book. Sending hate mail or even a perfectly reasonable note explaining why they are wrong won’t change their review once it has been published, and may further alienate the reviewer so that they feel negatively towards you, rather than your book. I will mention one exception to this – and that is, in the very rare instance where a reviewer may contact you about a review they have written. Again, it is generally considered a breach of reviewing etiquette for a reviewer to contact the reviewee directly, but it does happen, and if a reviewer has contacted you and asked you about your response, then a carefully considered reply, pointing out why you disagree with their comments, may be appropriate.
Lastly, the best thing you can do about a bad review is to seek out, and reread, some positive feedback on your book – another review, the acceptance letter from the publisher, whatever you have. Remember, a publisher has invested time and money on your book, so it must be good. Pick it up. Look at the beautiful cover with YOUR name on it, and feel good.
And, back to Pearl Verses the World, because it is May and I am spending May celebrating its release, here are just some of the positive reviews Pearl has received:
October was another busy month for me, which is why my October news was not posted on time – but still, I’m only a few days late and have lots to share.
Much of the busyness came from working on edits and revisions for two of my books slated for 2008. My verse novel, Pearl Verses the World, is currently being illustrated by Heather Potter, and the text has been copyedited, meaning another round of small changes from my end. I am so delighted with how this book is shaping up and can’t way to see the finished product, which is due for release in May 2009, from Walker Books Australia.
The other round of edits was for a new picture book, Snowy, which has been accepted (drum roll please) by Random House Australia, and scheduled for release in November 2009. This one is moving quickly because of the quick turn around (12 months being a short timeframe for a picture book). I am loving working on this. We’re currently editing the text ready to send it off to the illustrator who is none other than my brother in law, David Murphy, a very talented emerging illustrator. It’s also fun to have the opportunity to work on this with a family member.
I finished the month with a wonderful parcel from my postie – containing author copies of my new chapter book The Big Blowie (published by Aussie Schoolbooks). Part of the Aussie Aussie series, this little book features lots of very Australian elements – a drought, the outback, and a big thing (in the same way as the Big Banana and Big Pineapple, among others). Check out the cover – I love it! It is eye catching.
Actually, I must admit that this cover pic is for an earlier version of the finished thing – the final cover has a much bigger blowfly on it. Anyway, I was lucky enough to share the book with year four to seven students at my local school on Friday and got a great reception, which was satisfying.. The Big Blowie is available from Blake Education.
So with one new book, and two others in the pipeline, you’d think I’d be satisfied – but wait, there’s more. Today I saw the roughs for another forthcoming picture book – Constantine and Aristotle, to be published by Koala Books. I’m in love! Ben Wood is a fabulous illustrator and I’m lucky to have him bringing my little hogs to life.
In between all this, I’m still writing, still reviewing (heaps of new reviews added to Aussiereviews in October), and am busily mastering the use of new red laptop (red ones go aster and look cooler).
What a wonderful life! Enjoy your November. I know I will.