This is a longish article, but well worth the read for anyone trying to strategically place (or keep) themselves in the topsy-turvy world of published authors.
Now for a lighter moment. What do you do when you get a bad review? Commentator Adam Gopnik has the answers. A couple of his points:
You should probably not respond in the way you want to, because you're likely to inflame the situation, and not in a good way, by writing a response late, late at night:
"The late-night letter to the reviewer, or the place the review appeared, is by far the most impassioned literary genre that exists . . ."
Then, how should you respond? Mr. Gopnik passes on excellent advice from a friend:
"(wait) exactly four months - less would be too obvious, more too many - until (the) enemy, Mr or Ms X, writes something else, anything else. (T)hen write a warm letter, or email, of congratulation to him or her. Not anything too ornate or obsequious. Just: "Hey X, Really liked your piece on David Foster Wallace and the ambiguities of irony. Fine job on an important subject, Hope you're well, Y."
Bombard your bad reviewers with advice, admiration and counsel, encumber them with your affection, afflict them with your over-bounding warmth. Guilt and remorse will pour from them as surely as if they were ripe grapes that had been stomped on by a willing peasant.
Let the word go out from this day forth from author to reviewer - write that bad review, and I will… recommend you to my friends, crash cocktail parties given for someone else to make a toast in your honour, until at last you develop a haunted look in your eyes, fearing my embrace.
Write that bad review - and you shall have me for your life long friend. Ask yourself - is it worth it?"Want more? For the full treatment, go here.
Thanks for the link. I've been following the lawsuit. In a nutshell, I'm not a big fan of Amazon. They're a machine that demands a lot of fuel.ReplyDelete
I can't imagine writing to a reviewer about a bad review.
I'm with you, Kittie. People are skittish about opposing Amazon, for obvious reasons, but their attitude toward booksellers and authors has been pretty horrible for the long-term survival of the industry. With their pricing policies, sometimes I think they're purposely going for the death grip.Delete
When I get a bad review ... I go read my good ones :-D and remind myself that I can't make everyone happy. Also, readers are so particular with what they read. Then I go read the bad reviews on the books I've loved.ReplyDelete
Agreed, LM! That's a great way to deal with it. And it is so encouraging to read the bad reviews of the great authors we love. Is that bad??Delete
I've been watching that drama play out though I'm not convinced it will have negative repercussions on authors. We shall see.ReplyDelete
That's great advice on bad reviews. I especially love the last one, lol!
Heather, I'd love to hear your thinking on the effect on authors question! You've dug into this deeply and made a choice, but not with blinders on. How do you see the current drama playing out to authors' benefit? I know it's complicated--maybe a post on the subject? How about a guest post here? I'd love that!Delete
Here are my current thoughts on this topic: traditional publishers have been guilty of a CLASSIC head-in-the-sand posture. It's like when television was introduced around 1950 took audience and power away from the big movie studios. Powerful movie makers couldn't adapt. What happened? Aside from the big mess for everyone in the business, that is? The big movie studios lost power and shrank. People who wanted to make/write/star in movies (not tv talent shows),had to find a new way for the most part, simply because there weren't the same number of opportunities available as there used to be. Some enterprising and talented stars created companies that made movies for television. They'd found a way to adapt that not only kept their dreams alive, but paid financially (eventually, for them; immediately for people they hired to be in their movies).One of the keys here, though, was there were only a handful of people doing this.The artists themselves were not all making their own production companies and trying to do several full-time jobs themselves to make it work.
Now I'm seeing glimmers that sectors of traditional publishing are finding ways to adapt without losing their core. Some big publishers are creating digital-only imprints. The lower costs in those imprints make it possible for them to take more risks with debut authors, and they are seeking that author segment. Three cheers!! How the imprints are actually operated--whether they'll continue the tradition of editing, especially, will be key to whether they can distinguish themselves, in my opinion.
Have you heard of any other initiatives?
Linda, thanks for providing the link to the lawsuit. I'm not sure why there isn't a discussion. Maybe authors don't think they can do anything about it? Perhaps they don't understand the ramifications? Perhaps everyone is so busy writing, we leave the fight to the big guys? I do know that the old way of doing business must shift.ReplyDelete
So... what do we do with a bad review? Know that even the bad comments provide opportunity. "I didn't like it because there was too much sex!" Oh... my, I'm guessing there are people who might want to read it because there is too much sex.
I like the suggestion if you know who the person is and can respond to something they wrote later Great idea.
Thanks again for a great post!
Ha! That's a great bad review to get. Publish that one widely and you'll get ten readers for every one who agrees with the reviewer. Oh, wait, what am I thinking? Fifty Shades of Grey is keeping the publishing industry going practically single-handed (I'm sure there's a pun in there somewhere). You'll get THOUSANDS of readers for every one. On the lawsuit, I don't know either. Maybe it's just that it seems out of our control.Delete
I have seen reviews both good and bad for books I've written. I never respond to either. I'm not sure if that's a good policy or not, but that's how I operate. After all, the reviewers aren't writing to me--they're writing to other readers who might or might be interested in the book in question. I only respond if someone sends me a letter or an e-mail about the book. Reviews are pretty subjective. One person might hate something that someone else loves.ReplyDelete
Excellent point about who the reviewer is writing to, Lin! And I do think you're wise to distance yourself from the emotional reaction that compels so many to respond. Better to write that passionate response and then burn it, if you can't help yourself. :)Delete