Sunday, February 19, 2012

The Thing About Reviews

All authors want reviews. Okay, maybe not want them the way we want love and chocolate and oodles of money, but we need them. And just the good ones, thank you. They're important for the exposure they generate, and if you're lucky enough to land a few of these priceless things pre-publication and have a half-decent marketing plan in place, you can hit the ground running. Creating early buzz is important when so many hundreds of thousands of books come out every year. That's hundreds of thousands. I try not to think about that part.

Thing is, getting someone to agree to a review is a crapshoot. Even if you've managed to ink out the best book of the year, there'll be plenty of folks who don't like it. Trust me on this. Say your reviewer is a woman who was once jilted by a guy who just happens to have the same name as your lead character, lost a child the exact age as one who dies in your story, or has a fight with the boyfriend or the boss the day she sits down to read your novels. Maybe yours is the hundredth mystery/romance/science fiction/western (take your pick) she's reviewed this year and she's simply had it. Makes herself a big old martini, sits down at the keyboard and takes her snarly mood out on little-old-you.

Paying for reviews is a whole other ball of wax. Some of the most prestigious review sites charge big bucks for a review they promise will be completely honest, which doesn't necessarily mean "good" (see above). That means you can pay a lot of money for the chance to get majorly, where-did-I-hide-those-razorblades depressed. These companies charge a ton for their reviews because they know that you know that if by some miracle you manage to eek out a good one, you've got a leg up in the game.

All of this by way of explaining, perhaps, that I'm fully aware the absolutely stunning review I just received from Kirkus for Matinicus (due out in May), had as much to do with the luck of the draw as anything else. Don't get me wrong. I'm really proud of the book, I busted my ass on it, and I'm ever-so-grateful that whoever reviewed it liked it almost as much as I do.

Just sayin'.

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