First: Thanks to Rob and Miranda for their views. Most helpful.
Next – a bit more on plotting. I've been dealing with my latest story board plotting system here, but I've also discussed my "needlepoint" approach to plotting at the Author Exchange Blog.
On to today's post:
In my routine blog-hopping, the topic of reviews has come up lately. How reviews for the same book can vary from one reviewer to the next. Whether they have any effect on sales. How an author should respond. Or if the author should respond at all. It's an arena where subjectivity rules.
Since I write for one publisher that targets the library market, I've had to look at reviews from an entirely different perspective. It's not the what, it's the where.
People who purchase books for libraries often base their acquisitions on whether or not a book has been reviewed by a relatively limited number of publications. And it's not necessary, apparently, that the review be a good one. If the title shows up with a review, it stands a much greater chance of being added to that library's buy list.
Some readers say that they will go out of their way to buy books that get terrible reviews, because they want to see whether or not the reviewer was being nasty, or if the book was really that bad. And what's bad? I've read a heck of a lot of books that hit the best-seller lists that have rave reviews, but I don't care for them. What makes a book special for one reader may be a total turn off for another.
When dealing with reviews, it's difficult to separate the "book" from the "me." And those five star reviews give the author a feeling of success. Yet there are also authors who will tell you that a 3 star review is more dreaded than a 1 star review. Why? Because the 1 star means there was an emotional reaction from the reader, even if it was negative. There was some sort of a connection. The 5 star review, of course, is coveted, because it also shows that emotional connection, but in a positive way. The "me" gets stroked along with the "book." But a 3 star review says the book didn't resonate one way or the other.
That being said, a friend sent me the following, which in addition to being a review is one darn great sentence.
Quote from the NYT "Opinionator:
Tyler Cowen says “the best sentence I read last night” is from a review of William Vollman’s new book, “Imperial,” in New York magazine by Sam Anderson.
“Imperial” is like Robert Caro’s “The Power Broker” with the attitude of Mike Davis’s “City of Quartz,” if Robert Caro had been raised in an abandoned grain silo by a band of feral raccoons, and if Mike Davis were the communications director of a heavily armed libertarian survivalist cult, and if the two of them had somehow managed to stitch John McPhee’s cortex onto the brain of a Gila monster, which they then sent to the Mexican border to conduct ten years of immersive research, and also if they wrote the entire manuscript on dried banana leaves with a toucan beak dipped in hobo blood, and then the book was line-edited during a 36-hour peyote séance by the ghosts of John Steinbeck, Jack London, and Sinclair Lewis, with 200 pages of endnotes faxed over by Henry David Thoreau’s great-great-great-great grandson from a concrete bunker under a toxic pond behind a maquiladora, and if at the last minute Herman Melville threw up all over the manuscript, rendering it illegible, so it had to be re-created from memory by a community-theater actor doing his best impression of Jack Kerouac.
And, in closing, if you want to help me bypass the 'not enough reviews in the right places' dilemma, if you'll request that your library carry When Danger Calls, that might help get the book onto that golden buy list.
Publisher: Five Star, a part of Gale/Cengage Learning