Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Interesting Stuff Elsewhere

Margaret Atwood interviews Ian Rankin in Toronto. I know it seems as though there should be video, but it's just audio.

A publicist has a few things to say to an author about their complaints about how publicists work (or don't work). (Courtesy of Brian.)

Does one honest mistake (since retracted) discount an entire review? Juri Nummelin blogs about a negative review and in the ensuing comment trail is taken to task over the question of how the book was published.

Personally, I think that's all smoke, no fire. He stated clearly that it appeared to be a mistake and issued a correction, but that seems to be considered an acceptable reason to attack him over his opinion on the shortcomings of the book itself. On the one hand it seems pointless to address this, but there are a few things I'd like to say:

1. Most reviewers I know DO NOT read the publicity inserts included with a review copy. They want to form their OWN opinion of the work, not be told what to think of it. Therefore, if a work crosses your desk that is published by a known self-publishing company, you will most likely assume it was self-published. I received a book recently that had not been presented to me in description as self-published, but the minute I opened the package I knew. I flipped it open and looked at where it was printed. Now, it may be that the press label on it is a legitimate press and that the author didn't pay to publish it. I won't address it in a review, if the book is reviewed. However, in the same way I know Harlequin publishes romances, I know this 'publisher' produces self-published books.

2. The assertion it's a professional author. They should know better than to argue a review if they're a professional. Most review sites and reviewers I've discussed this with have policies that they will ban authors who argue over reviews, especially if they're volunteers. It's simple - too many books, not enough time to review them all, and certainly not enough time to deal with arguments.

3. Reviews are ultimately opinions. Informated opinions, but still opinions. When a reviewer says your book is slow, filled with cliched characters and didn't hold their interest, make a note and next time, don't send that reviewer your book, and move on. 99.9% of the world might disagree with them, but arguing over it won't change anything. The reviewer isn't going to retract their statements about your work, unless they've criticized a technical issue which you can prove they were mistaken over. But when it comes to whether or not a book was boring? They aren't going to change it, and they shouldn't. If they let themselves be coerced to change an opinion on a book that change is meaningless, and so is every review they write in the future.

Everyone gets negative reviews sometimes. It comes with the territory. Don't like it? Get a blog and whine and bitch and moan there. But arguing with the reviewer and trying to make them see the light? Well, here's hoping you don't get a lot of negative Amazon reviews...


pattinase (abbott) said...

Have you ever seen the documentary where a journalist tried to interview MA up at her place on Pelee Island? Funniest interview or non-interview ever.

Sandra Ruttan said...

No, I haven't. That could be interesting. I find MA to be a bit... stiff, I guess. Not a natural at ease type.

James Goodman-Horror Writer said...

You can't please everybody. There will always be somebody who doesn't like your work. If we all liked the same things, how boring would this lif of ours be?

btw, I sent you an email last week, but I'm not sure if it went through. It had an attachment, so it may have been gobbled up by your spam filter.

Sandra Ruttan said...

I got it James, I'm just shamefully behind on everything under the sun, and then some.

And you're dead right, you can't please everyone. But there are days I think about getting out of the reviewing side of the equation, and when I see the kind of bullshit Juri's getting, it's one of those times I think of how nice it would be to just read what I want...

Trace said...

I agree. Arguing with the reviewer is just silly. They think what they think and that's it. Everyone is entitled to their opinion, and a blog is the best place to vent.

Puts me in mind of the who Ann Rice fiasco, where she wrote a huge, long rant on Amazon to the people who didn't like her latest book. I can't remember what book it was though. It was a few years back.