Friday, September 21, 2007

BLOG REVIEW WEEK, 5: Dealing With Reviews--by Pepper

Ed: This is the big moment!

They read the review with a growing look of horror

Bunny: What does that old queen know? She didn’t even show. Sent her copy boy to do the dirty work. Screw you, Ms. Crowling!

Dolores: Do I really have a face like a horse?

Paul: What does ostentatious mean?

Ed: Hey, it’s not that bad. You can’t concentrate on the negative. He’s got plenty of good to say here. ‘The costumes are very realistic.’ That’s positive! I’ve seen much worse reviews before! Some reviews don’t even mention the costumes!


Ed: I just did a show in Hollywood, and Victor Crowling himself praised its realism!

I love Ed Wood. It’s a movie that makes me happy every time I watch it, and I try to watch it fairly often. I think it is, without a doubt, Tim Burton’s best film, and I think it’s one of Johnny Depp’s best performances. I think the movie makes me happy because it inspires me. It keeps me positive. If Ed Wood can remain optimistic and search for the positive, then so can I. Of course, in the film, Ed Wood is barely self-aware. His optimism and his vision blinded him from the realities of his work, and he just kept pushing forward. Even when he went through a moment of extreme doubt and confusion, he found the strength to stay true to his vision.

I don’t want to get into an analysis of Ed Wood. I could probably write for pages and pages, and that isn’t what this blog is about. This particular blog is about dealing with the stinging, maybe even humiliating, reviews. And every author, every author is going to have to deal with it at some point. Because everybody has an opinion, and you’re not going to make everybody happy. And I don’t just mean professional reviews, either.

First, don’t respond! It’s going to be tempting to defend yourself. It’s going to be tempting to defend your book. Hell, it might even be tempting to defend your friend, or an author you admire. But this move isn’t called “The Author’s Big Mistake” for nothing. When Anne Rice responded to reviewers on Amazon, her impassioned defense actually made the news. And she looked crazy in the process. It happened three years ago and "You're interrogating the text from the wrong perspective" still cracks me up.

There’s no way to win. There’s nothing you can say to defend against a bad review. “That’s just like, your opinion, man” isn’t even innocuous. Unless you’re The Dude and you can say it without a hint of irony. Your books are not your children, and ultimately, they don’t need to be defended. Also, keep in mind, Romanceland is a small, small world, and should you give in to the temptation to denigrate the reviewer who dared say less-than-glowing-things about your book, people will notice. And they will remember.

Second, stay positive! If there’s nothing in the review—not even a compliment on the reality of the costumes—then keep in mind that somebody offered you a contract, and that person is also offering to pay you for your work. Somebody, somewhere along the way believed in you and your work.

Sometimes, it’s not easy to stay positive. In those cases, I think of another Johnny Depp film, Dead Man.

Bad Guy 1: Fuck you.

Bad Guy 2: Fuck me? Fuck you.

And then he shoots him. I have adopted this has my motto. It works well for the sting of bad reviews and of rejections. Of course, it loses something when simply transcribed. It’s the way he says it before he shoots the first guy that really makes it work. Yeah, I’m saying the third recourse you have available to you is pure belligerence. Sometimes, that’s all I’ve got going for me. That, and Johnny Depp movies. What helps you get through the occasional stinging review?


Barbara Sheridan said...

What helps you get through the occasional stinging review?

The fact that the stinging ones are "occasional" and not the norm and of course earning some actual cash is always a plus that soothes the ego pains.

Pepper Espinoza said...

Yeah, it's hard to be upset about a stinging review when you're cashing that check! Especially when the person who offered the review paid for it, rather than acquired an ARC or free-copy. I generally am cool with whatever people want to say about me as long as I get their money first, lol.

veinglory said...

I do use the *private* 'fuck you' in the initial stages. Then later I can go back and consider things more dispassionately ;)