Friday, February 24, 2012

The Big Bad, Part 2: Reviews That Suck

Something happened yesterday which reminds me that the way I deal with bad reviews kind of works. I'm loathe to mention any bad reviews about my work but there was one written about my novel, Fall From Grace. I read the first line and based on that, I didn't continue. Some of my friends read the rest of it and said I was smart to stop. It was mean, they said. Almost personal. Those comments almost enticed me to read the rest of this review, but I held back. I let out my annoyance in private, took a deep breath and then figured out on my response.

I had the e-mail address of the editor of the publication in which this bad review appeared. I had fed him a tip on a story and he had also quoted me a couple times for other pieces. I wanted him to know that I was aware of the bad review but I didn't want to create a scene and burn a bridge. So I sent him an e-mail with the subject line: Angry Writer responds to review. I knew when he saw that he would shake his head and think "Fuck". He didn't write the review but he did put it in his publication. But I also knew he wouldn't erase the e-mail; he's the kind of editor who would read it no matter how angry and mean the response would be.

It really helped that the bad review appeared on April 1, so when actually read the text of the e-mail the first two words were: "April Fools." The rest of the e-mail was short, only asking if he was still interested in doing some kind of profile on me, but also saying that I wasn't angry about the review because bad reviews happen. I've written them myself. And that was it. No admonishments, no complaints that the reviewer didn't understand my book, no anger.

The editor's responded in two ways: first, he tweeted to his thousands of followers that my reaction to the review was one of the classiest things he'd seen in a long time. And second, when I contacted him this week and asked to be the Guest Editor for his books section around the time my next book, A Killing Winter, comes out, he immediately said yes. The Guest Editor gig is for one week. I write four stories about me, my books, etc. for a major national publication. Every day they run my piece, they run an image of the cover of my book and a short description of it, and of me. That's some great free, wide-reaching publicity that will sell a bunch of books.

And the best part is that I might even get paid for it.

1 comment:

Joelle said...

Very smart of you! If my first book got any horrible reviews, people managed to shield me from them, but I'll keep your tactics in mind as my second book is being reviewed as we speak.

I actually was here looking for a way to email you, but don't see an address, so I'll just type it here. I heard you on Shelagh's show (isn't she fantastic?!) and I really loved what you said about the wound...acknowledge it but don't live it. I think that's so smart.

cheers, Joelle Anthony