Thoughts about reviewers and Booklist Review

I have always been very lucky with my reviewers and owe them a lot. PW has been wonderful, and so have the print reviewers, those talented people who write for newspapers. As we know, their jobs have been cut drastically as circulation has plummeted and the recession cut into advertising funds. Only a small handfull still work, and frequently (so I've been told by one of them) the choices of what they review are made for them. That means that bestselling authors are more likely to get reviewed than relative unknowns. I used to get a lot of reviews, witness the scrapbooks for my books. The first two are fat and bulging with pages. The next three are relatively slender. The one after that (my best book, too) is almost pathetically thin. I now have a new publisher, Severn House. They specialize in library sales and therefore look only to the trade journals for reviews. Well, there was the starred PW review, making me feel much better about things. Now Booklist has voiced their opinion. I must say, I'm a little disappointed. It sounds as though the reviewer expected a simple plotline and got frustrated with my rather complex novel. There is the odd note of surprise at the end that I actually managed to tie up all the ends.

All of my novels are complex. I think a good book should be. There should be a good deal more going on than a murder and its solution, but perhaps readers prefer their mysteries simple.

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Comment by I. J. Parker on September 21, 2010 at 8:14am
You're pobably right, Dan. To my pleased surprise, though, I've had some very good, detailed, and well-written reviews from people who only post on Internet sites. The print reviewers sometimes show off a little. Their reviews are also very short, but that may be a restriction from the paper. I think that played a role here. It's not easy to sum up a complex tale in four or five sentences. I know for a fact that it can be very frustrating. I've had to write blurbs for this book.
Comment by I. J. Parker on September 21, 2010 at 4:59am
Well, we must hope for the good sense of readers. They've occasionally said that they take reviews with a grain of salt. In this case, there is still a lot that could convince a reader that MASUDA AFFAIR is their kind of book.
Comment by Dana King on September 21, 2010 at 2:12am
This is my problem with reviews, exacerbated by the dearth or reviews lately. Each review is one person's opinion. He may be well qualified, or not. Worst of all, he may have thought the book should have gone in a different direction and winds up reviewing the book he thinks you should have written, and not what you've actually presented. Without enough reviews to form a consensus, who's to know much about a book, unless you've read it yourself?

I'm not sure what to do about it, and I hate to complain without at least presenting some ideas for a solution, but there it is.

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