I have nothing against book reviewers, or movie reviewers, or any kind of reviewers. I read reviews and I tend to heed reviews. Some reviewers more than others, certainly. For example, I almost never agree with Stephanie Zacharek of salon.com, but I usually find Peter Travers of Rolling Stone to be right in sync with my tastes. Usually. There's the matter of him having liked Dogma, a movie I hated, but hey, that was like ten years ago. So. Reviewers perform an important service and I'm glad they do what they do. But I still find it really funny when a creator, let's say a writer, finds a clever way of flouting bad reviews.
Like this little commercial by Brad Meltzer, who I've never read, but Jim has:
Ha ha ha! Love that! It makes me curious about the book, which is what writers want readers to be.
Another case of a writer cleverly getting back at reviewers who'd said snarky things was the brilliant post by James Kennedy from a few months ago, which I linked to at the time. I was going to post an excerpt here, but the whole thing is just too much fun.
I was talking with some writer friends recently about reviews, and the extent to which we all read reviews of our own books. For my part, I have Google Alerts for my name and the titles of my books, so when something pops up online, I generally find it right away. There's a moment of anxiety before I know if it's a good review or a bad review, and if it's a bad review (which thankfully I haven't gotten too many of), I have a glum moment and then forget all about it. Well, almost all about it. Some among my writer friends, though, don't want to see reviews at all; they don't want that anxiety and just don't sign up for Google Alerts. I can understand that too. Perhaps it's best to focus on the writing at hand, always be moving forward through the new book and then onto the next, rather than dwelling and looking backward.
That's a good policy in general; the writing must always be the priority, and not the reviews and sales figures. I mean, of course we all want great reviews and huge sales, but if a book is performing modestly, one must learn to be okay with that and look ahead, invest one's hopes in future books. There's that great Marge Piercy quote: "Work is its own cure. You have to like it better than being loved." It's so true. Being a writer is mostly solitary work, just you and the words. The "being loved" part makes up a very, very small portion of your life -- though that very small part can feel disproportionately important. I mean, for me, getting awesome emails from readers more than compensates for the many days of isolated, butt-in-chair work. Still, if I was doing it just in hopes of being loved, and not because I love the work, it wouldn't be a very good life. You know?
I was also discussing another matter with my writing friends: the matter of a writer (not among us), who'd been paid an obscenely large advance for a forthcoming YA series. I want to say here, without going into detail, that writers get jealous of other writers for a variety of reasons; it's completely natural and very very difficult not to fall into the green-monster trap at least every once in a while. So-and-so is getting amazing marketing; so-and-so has sold X number of foreign rights; so-and-so has a movie option, and his/her publisher had a special leather-bound copy made of his/her book just out of sheer awesomeness, and presented it as a gift. There's always something going on or rumored to be going on that makes other writers' congratulatory smiles feel a little pasted on -- of course there's genuine happiness for the success of others (unless they're jerks, heh heh) but there's also jealousy, and big advances certainly invoke that.
Well, after that discussion, I mentioned the topic to another writer friend, Stephanie, who sent me this link to John Green's blog, and a similar discussion going on. The comments bring up some good points too.
So, there's a bit of writerly nitty gritty that may or may not be of interest. Cheers!