With my debut mystery due out in April, I'm in uncharted waters in dealing with reviews. I've already run the gamut--and I've only had three so far. Booklist gave me a nice review--most welcome but no pounding hearts involved, theirs or mine. Kirkus was a little snarky, though I'm told that's just the rite of passage, like the way they break a bottle of champagne on your head or whatever it is they do when you cross the Equator for the first time. I located the best adjective--"endearing," which to me is a great compliment--and I'm running with it. And Crimespree blew my socks off yesterday with a rave review tailored to my wildest dreams.

If you're curious, I've posted excerpts from all of them on my page. No BSP intended. What I'd like to hear is what everybody else does or doesn't do about reviews. Do you blow them off or throw leis or darts at the reviewers depending on what they say? Do you scrapbook them or go out of your way to ignore them? Do you send them to booksellers? to fans? to your mother? And I'd like to hear about your best and worst reviews. I bet everybody's got at least one great story.

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Well let me just first send my congrats on that debut!! Wonderful! Can't wait to read it!!
I say do whatever allows you to save your ego! If it is a great review--FRAME THAT PUPPY! If it isn't, then consider that person must be having a bad day and are just taking it out on your book--sort of like kicking the dog when the boss rides your back all day.

You've gotten the review that really matters--the one that allowed your book to get into print in the first place. All the others are just fluff. So any that aren't at least good, forget about!

Reviews are just opinions aren't they? They are entitled to them, doesn't mean you have to alter anything because of them.
Granted, mine are all from online review sites--

Definitely use excerpts on your website. There are copyright issues involved, so you can't post an entire review unless you've got permission to do so.

Bad reviews--blow them off. There's no need to call attention to them. Plus, if you badmouth the reviewer, it might be a lot harder to get an honest review of your next one. Reviewers do talk and compare notes.

Worst review I've had--was for my first one. The reviewer actually finished up the review saying that she'd be keeping an eye out for future books of mine, but also spent time talking about confusing plot holes in the story. Considering that her synopsis of the story included the main characters being shocked to discover people living in their attic (so was I, because the house doesn't have an attic and one of the people supposedly living there was never at that house at any point in the story), among other things that made me suspect she'd read it really, really fast, I can see where she got the plot hole idea, but I wonder how many people didn't buy the book because they thought they were going to get a confusing, plot-hole-ridden storyline?

I don't know which one to offer as the best review. There were a number I was very proud of. But I think the really best review is when the reviewer contacts you and asks if you have anything else in print they can read.
Congrats on being published Elizabeth – as Laine said that is your first, best review.

I find reviewers fall into two categories; intelligent, insightful, sensitive, loving caring and kind puppy owners and evil, shallow, friendless bastards, who should be boiled down for tallow. It is very easy to tell which is which from the way they review your books. Savour all reviews from the former and ignore everything from the latter. Do not send angry emails or hitmen to seek out the latter, or stalk them. Deluded reviewers may come to their senses by the time of your second book. Whether this is because they have become better reviewers or you have become an even better writer is something to mull over.

If I can find an email address for a reviewer after they say good things I’ll send a brief thank you. From the reactions I’ve had this rarely happens to reviewers. One guy said about my first book ‘Grab a glass of good red, prop yourself in front of the fire and get ready to be entertained’ and a year later about Book #2 ‘ideal for enjoying with a six-pack of Cascade, some chili peanuts and an Aimee Mann CD on the stereo.’ When I commented on this he was totally bemused, saying he usually wouldn’t make food and drink comments like that in a review, let alone twice.

While I’ve been fortunate enough to get some great reviews from the MSM I have to say the most insightful coverage of my writing I get from Damien at crimedownunder.com and the biggest ever buzz was from Karen at austcrime fiction.org when she recently said Book #2 made her ‘happy’. My agents mantra is ‘be entertaining,’ but making someone happy is pretty damned good feedback. And both Damien and Karen hang out here which says a lot about the kind of company we’re keeping.

Congratulations again on getting that first book out into the big wide world.
Getting reviewed at all is huge and even if the response wasn't what you'd hoped for from Kirkus & Booklist, your name and your book got some major face time. Don't get tweaked by negative or less than glowing reviews - everybody has different tastes, pet peeves, etc. And don't get weird with the thank-yous. Some reviewers are okay with this, others really want to keep it to the books and aren't into anything more personal than that.

Hey, whether they love it, hate it or are indifferent to it, if someone thinks a book is important enough to write a review, that says a lot of good stuff.
Congrats! Sounds like a great start.

A first time published author gets very good exposure in newspapers, but those come during the month after release.

As for me: I adore reviews. I collect them in scrapbooks, post them on my web site, share them with my agent and editor and publicist. I scour the web via google to find them all. Sometimes, when I'm really touched, I thank a reviewer.
I haven't had a bad review, though Kirkus on the first book was only mildly approving.
Reviews are the great joy of my life! My favorite review was by Jim Fusilli -- because he understood my protagonist and knew that the novel was a novel first, and a historical mystery second.
Reviews are tough, because I want to see good ones and nothing more.

Don't get hung up on them. If some aren't as gushing as you want, focus on the good parts. If the criticism is constructive, learn from it.

It's the Amazon reviews I don't like, because people can post a throwaway review, slam a book completely, without a moments thought as to the effect this might have on the author's writing career. I wouldn't dream of slagging anything off on Amazon, because maybe it just wasn't my taste. Professional reviewers will appreciate your efforts and won't show you the same disregard.

However, on the other hand, if the customer has paid for the book, they are entitled to their say.
Free speech comes with its own consequences. Still, I wouldn't trade it for anything. Also, an Amazon reader better represents the people who are buying the books. This is what real people think. Sure, sometimes the review is a personal attack for non-book-related reasons, such as the video game community's recent retaliation against an alleged psychologist after she bad-mouthed a game she had never played on TV, but for the most part, the reviews reflect the reviewer's honest assessment. And while they may not be professional reviews or they may not back up their points, I think these reviews are still valuable for seeing how a work is really perceived by the buying public.

The average reader also isn't concerned with the author's career either. He wants to read a good book, and if this book he has paid money for turns out to not be any good, why shouldn't he say so? And if that review hurts the author's career then maybe the author should write better books. But then, there are those reviews which are given for reasons besides critiquing the book. I don't think there's any way around that without rendering the entire reviewing process irrelevant by censoring it.
Amazon reviews were the subject of a whole thread here at one time. I think that it may often be the case that an Amazon review doesn't represent very many people at all - they're often very personal and specific. Of course, I say this because I got a bad one. It really made me wonder, given how much the guy hated my book, why he bought it.

(as an aside, I think someday the video game industry will go through the same thing the tobacco industry has gone through - denying that they did a lot of research to find ways to make the games more addictive - flicker rates, and so on, you'll know more about this than me - the same way tobacco companies denied adding anything to make tobacco more addictive. Or not).
I agree about Amazon reviews. You have to wonder what provokes people to go to the trouble of posting reviews. Is it a selfless act of helping other readers? None of my fans (those who've sent me charming e-mails) has ever posted on amazon (Alas!). I much prefer chatter on web sites.
I can only answer in respect of the German Amazon. No earnest reader that I know of would write an review on Amazon, so perhaps you have a lot of earnest readers. I only rarely read Amazon reviews but some have surprised me because of their quality.
It's just frustrating though, because all your good work can be undone by one person. The first review for my book on Amazon gave me two out five, but not because he didn't like the book, the actual review seemed to say that it was an exciting thriller, but because the subject matter was different to what he expected. So there's my first book, sat on Amazon, with a two-star rating!

I wanted to hunt him down and hurt him. But I didn't.
Ah, German amazon. I got a doozie once there. Proof that readers who complain about accuracy frequently don't know beans.
And yes, the low star count hurts sales. You'd think amazon would want to sell books.

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