The victim, a pretty but pushy town developer, had deep pockets and few friends. Myrtle can't throw one of her gaudy garden gnomes without hitting a potential suspect. Even when another murder takes place, proud Myrtle forges on—armed only with a heavy cane, a venomous tongue, and a widower sidekick.
Available from Midnight Ink
We all want to make sure our new releases are portrayed in the best light possible. But at what point do we need to stop interfering with the process?
Book Tour: There are different types of appearances on tours. There are guest posts where you write on a topic and add your promo info at the end (i.e.: what I’m doing here today.) There are interviews. And there are reviews.
Obviously, if you don’t like surprises and you want to ensure your book is showcased in a manner you control, you’re going to love the guest post option. However, I think that using only one type of format on your tour gets boring for your readers: particularly if you have a tour with many different stops.
Interview: There are really two types of interviews—one where the blog host has read your book, and one where they haven’t and ask general questions about you, your writing process, and your novel. For interviews where the blog host has read your book, it’s always possible you could get some tough questions if the host wasn’t a fan. If you’re nervous about that possibility, the general interview will be appealing for you. Again, though, you really need to balance this out—yes, you’re making sure that your book is not getting any negative press, but at a certain point readers will notice that no one seems to actually be commenting on the novel’s content. And that, in itself, might be enough to keep readers from purchasing it.
Reviews: If you like to maintain control, reviews will make you nervous. You might consider sending your book to the reviewer with a proviso—if the reviewer doesn’t like your book, don’t review it. Then your readers wouldn’t be the wiser.
My recommendation—don’t do this. Serious reviewers are serious readers. Putting conditions on their assessment of your book undermines their integrity as an impartial reviewer and yours as a serious writer.
Everyone gets reviews that are less than glowing. Some reviews may be lukewarm and some may really slam your book. But here’s the thing---real books get real reviews. If you go to any book on Amazon and read the reader reviews, you can tell right away which books were reviewed by an author’s friends and family. They’ll rate the book 5 stars (even though you’ve never heard of the book or its publisher), and use rampant hyperbole in their review.
Real readers draw on their own experiences and personal preferences to rate books. It’s subjective. My books aren’t right for every reader.
What if you get a reader review that you feel reports inaccurate information about your book? It’s tempting to rebut the post on Amazon or other places on-line. I think that can be dangerous. You might come off as being too heavy-handed or as someone who doesn’t take criticism well. You might appear defensive. To me, it feels best to just ignore it. Let another reader rebut the review, if you’re lucky enough to have someone realize the inaccuracy.
Big Reviews: Kirkus, Publishers Weekly, Library Journal: In some ways, getting these reviews, good or bad, is a sign you’ve arrived at a particular point in your writing career. Even bad or lukewarm reviews still mean publicity when you’re being reviewed by the big guys.
How do you handle good reviews? How do you handle bad ones? After the Alice Hoffman debacle, I think there’s a clear way not to handle bad reviews. (For those who don’t know, she tweeted a negative reviewer’s phone number and email address, asking readers to criticize her.)
I think we can’t put too much stock in reviews. I’ve had good ones (ForeWord, Publishers Weekly, Mystery Scene) and a lukewarm one at Kirkus (which, I know y’all won’t believe, but I can’t even find on-line anymore.) Kirkus basically damned me with faint praise. My philosophy has been that I treat both equally: I can’t believe my good ones and not believe my bad ones. I try to remember it’s an opinion. I put the good ones on the promo materials and put the lukewarm or negative ones out of my head as I work.
Tomorrow I’m returning to the Blood Red Pencil to talk a little about what to do with those good review snippets that you’ve received.
Like her characters, Elizabeth Spann Craig’s roots are in a small, Southern town. She grew up in Anderson, South Carolina, where she spent most of her childhood in the county library, staggering out with books by the armful. Her magazine articles have appeared in both England and the United States. She’s the mother of two and currently lives in Matthews, North Carolina. Between juggling room mom duties, refereeing play dates, and being dragged along as chaperone/hostage on field trips, she dreams of dark and stormy nights beside stacks of intriguing mysteries with excellent opening lines. Visit Elizabeth at Mystery Writing is Murder.