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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I've had fans and/or reviewers post on Amazon. They indicated that they would before reviewing the books.
Cheers,
Brian
I use review excerpts for my website, ads, mailers, flyers, posters, and bookmarks. In sales, reviews are called third-party endorsements, and you want to use them as much as you can. As for any negative content, I try to look at it like any criticism--one person's opinion that may or may not be true. You can learn, though, if you listen.

Good luck, Liz.
Thanks for your good wishes, everyone, and for making this a lively discussion. "Entertaining" is good, huh? So Booklist did do well by me--they said I had a "good surprise ending" too. Someone mentioned how satisfying it is when someone "gets" the author's intention. My rave mentioned voice and character, which are what I'm most proud of, and it put me on Cloud Nine. But I was also thrilled to be told my plot was good, because that's the part I often don't feel in control of.
We just got our first less-than-positive review. The reviewer complained that the romance was overshadowed by the forest. We wanted the book to have more to it than the romance, and are proud that the setting (complete with crime and fire hazards) is so strong. So this one is all about reader expectation.

We use review excerpts on the website and will include them on book covers when we go into print soon. Like Ingrid, we love them.
I eat the meat and throw away the bones.
Liz,
I celebrate the good reviews, by posting them on my website and including quotes in my email newsletter, and if I know the reviewer, I write a thank-you note. The bad reviews get ignored. I forget about them and don't post them anywhere. My best review for A REAL BASKET CASE, as far as a popular culture tie-in, was from Booklist: "This will appeal to Desperate Housewives fans and those who like cozies with a bit of spice." The most well-written review, in my opinion, came from Kevin Tipple, who posts reviews to a number of online mystery ezines.

I received a mixed-review from Chuck Brownman at the Boulder (Colorado) Daily Camera, whose opinion I respect. He thought that for a craft mystery, my book didn't have enough discussion of the craft. Franky, I agreed with him. So, I put more gift basketry stuff in TO HELL IN A HANDBASKET, and when my editor complained that it slowed the pacing, I quoted Chuck's review. So, he helped me win a point with my editor!
I'm sure there are some authors who don't read the reviews, but I'm not one of them.

My own belief is that every reviewer creates their own level of credibility. Over time, readers get to know whose opinions they trust.

However, for authors, they don't necessarily follow the reviewers and then, all of a sudden, their book is reviewed. You can read at length my spin on it here if you really want to, and the varying opinions of a number of reviewers. As you'll see, everyone has their own ideas about what reviews should do and be.

Right up front, you won't please everybody. That's impossible. But there may be valid points about the work that bears consideration and can be learned from. Of course you quote appropriately from reviews on your website and keep a list of "praise" for yourself that can be used in future marketing. It's what's done.

But you also have to find a way to not take them too seriously. Bad reviews can sell as many copies as good reviews, and sometimes more. Why? In a recent discussion on 4MA readers acknowledged they distrusted books that are universally hyped and praised. Since reviews are subjective, there's something suspicious about a book only getting glowing commentary. And let's face it, from politicians to everything else in our life, we're conditioned to be suspicious.
I don't worry too much about reviews any more. I haven't had a real bad one yet, just the odd one or two iffy ones my publishers have submitted to certain websites. I have my doubts about some reviewers as some of the things they have said in their reviews have been totally inaccurate [to do with the plot and characters in my books]. It sometimes makes me wonder if the books are being read properly. I don't want to tar all reviewers this way though, I know there are a lot of good reviewers out there.

There's a well known female reviewer on the internet who I shall call * Mrs Chuckles, who appears to get through an extraordinary amount of books. I suspect the woman is really an alien with eyes in the back of her head and multiple arms to get through the amount of books she does.

Only once have I complained about a review. That's not because it was bad, it was quite good in fact. The reason I complained is because the reviewer had given away all the plot! It was like a synopsis an author would send to an editor. Luckily, this was amended for me. I don't think I'd complain if I had a bad review though as the reviewer is entitled to his or her opinion.

I think it was Donald Maass who said that it's word-of-mouth that sells books not reviews. I think he might have a point.
Over on Peter Rozovsky’s blog, Detectives Beyond Borders, he mentions Christopher Brookmyre's novel, A Big Boy Did It and Ran Away and how the author's website divides the reviews between "pre 9/11" and "post 9/11" because the book's about a terrorist who blows up a plane (well, actually the book's about a miserable high school teacher and some kids foiling a terrorist and, well, it's complicated, but very good) and it came out right around 9/11. Interesting how the events of the day seem to have effected the way people viewed the book.
Yes, you mentioned Kirkus being snarky. With my comic novel, When Pigs Fly, they gave a basically positive review, mentioning that it was fast-paced and funny with all kinds of improbable events, and then they added that it all led up to "an inevitably trite conclusion." It didn't upset me, but it did feel like a cheap shot.

I have created some fliers and a brochure that quote the best review snippets. When I have book signings, I have a sign on my table highlighting the most appealing comments. I also have some great comments from Amazon, and I mix in a few of those as well. The average person doesn't know from Kirkus or Amazon. They just know a good comment is a good comment.

In my opinion, reviews are useless unless you exploit them. And just use the very best one-liners. I used to make the complete reviews available, but people aren't usually that interested.

Speaking of mothers (yes, you did), mine passed away a few years ago. Before I had any reviews, I invented a quote from her: "Oh, you wrote a book? That's nice, dear. I hope it doesn't have any dirty words." People knew it was a joke, but it drew favorable attention to the book.

My best review? Reader Views, an online review site, wrote, "Bob Sanchez is a consummate writer." You can't get any more generous than that.
Congrats on the book and the reviews! I actually work as a reviewer for Pop Syndicate, and work in marketing/PR. (I'm a bit of a GenX Gal Friday, if you can't tell!) Here is some advice from both the reviewer & PR perspective:

- Don't get mad at the reviewer and sound off in a snarky email. I've had authors who pursued me hard do this after I gave a less-than-thrilling review.
- Don't tell a reviewer that you don't want the review to publish via the Internet if it's bad. (I've had those emails, too.)
- Take the good with the bad. Your style might appeal to some more than others, and some people might just be having an off reading time and just won't like anything. It happens.
- Take the good reviews and list them on your Web site, MySpace, blog, Author's Den, and everywhere else you have a media area. Post maybe the first few words with a link to the entire review, if you can. If not, do the good ones with credits. (If you don't have a media area, GET ONE! I just wrote an article on Mike's Writing Newsletter about this. It's a Yahoo group for writers and I am happy to share if you like.)
- Use one sheet of paper and paste the best, most recent reviews for your media kit. (If you don't have a media kit, get one. I talk about this, too, in that article. Not to pitch; this is just what I do for a living.)

Above all, know that critic reviews aren't everything. Read what the people have to say on sites like Amazon. If the paying public likes your work, then you are doing great. And besides, YOU GOT PUBLISHED! That means you have talent and an audience who will totally embrace you. Sometimes it's just a matter of finding the right audience to submit to.

Hope this helps!

ang
I made a scrapbook of reviews and posted them on my web side www.hu.mtu.edu/~hlsachs so people could see what others thought of my work. It is important for the covers of books to include brfief excerpts from reviews, but the ones that matter are reviews that appeared in major places like the NY Times. My daughter who worked at Coffee House Press for about ten years says only those major reviewers have any clout when it comes to reviews quoted on book covers or just inside the covers.

My own experience is that reviews have not generated sales. I have sent out review copies with poor results. My book of Jewish short stories, "Threads of the Covenant: the JEws of red Jacket" which is available from lulu.com got a swell rfeview in the National Jewish Post and Opinion weekly newspaper but the reviewer failed to indicate where the book could be found. Since it's not in bookstores, only a determined potential reader would find it. Other reviews that appeared in the Marquette Mining Journal did not generate enough sales to offset the cost of providing the free copy to the reviewer. Some so-called reviewers are scam artists who don't review the books but sell them on eBay. I used to review children's books on the radio, did three per broadcast and was careful to write the publishers indicating when the review was b roadcast. I don't know if anyone bought the books as a result. I, however, gradually accumulated about 800 wonderful books for my kids. the Oregonian gets 200 review copies a month yet reviews no more than a dozen. TGhe books then are sold, the proceeds going to charity. but of course the authors and publishers get nothing. That's tgfhe nature of this business. You can send out a thousand copies as the publishers of the DaVinci Code did and generate a bvuzz, but that was an exception to the rule.

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