Tuesday, August 13, 2013

An Interesting Lesson

As a writer, I’m always interested in improving my craft.  I’m one of those writers that will gobble up every book and magazine article aimed at helping me to be a better writer. Thanks to the internet and the subsequent social media explosion, it’s easier than ever for me to find tools designed to make me a better writer.

The best example of this is my Twitter account. There, I subscribe to a number of profiles designed at helping writers not only polish their prose but reach their target audience. Recently, there was a link on my Twitter account posted by one such person I follow. The link had the impressive title of how to avoid getting bad reviews of your novel. The first time I saw this link, I passed on reading the article with my first thought being that writing a good novel is really the only way to avoid a bad review.

When another person I follow posted the same link, I couldn’t resist reading any longer. There had to be something all these people knew that I didn’t. Having once been the victim of a bad review, which was entirely my fault, I wanted to know what else I had to do to avoid a repeat of this disastrous fate.

My expectations were quickly dashed when the article, which was actually a link to an independent author’s blog, was lacking what I’d call helpful advice. In his post, the author recounted his experience with getting a bad review because of his failure to research the profile of the reviewer. It turns out this author sent his book to a reviewer who didn’t care for his genre. The result was that the reviewer didn’t give the book a fair chance before publicly posting the bad review which had the potential of costing the author future readers and sales.  The author of this blog post suggested that every author needed to research reviewers before soliciting reviews of their work.

I hate to say it, but my first thought after reading this blog post was ‘Well, duh!’ If I were attempting to find an agent or publisher for my young adult fiction novel, I would never send queries to people who dealt only with non-fiction. Why then would I send that same novel to a reviewer who only liked Science Fiction and Fantasy or Westerns? I wouldn’t. To me, that’s just basic logic.

It’s unfortunate the author was the victim of a bad review because of his own shortcomings, but I was a little disappointed that the title of his blog post implied it was something it wasn’t. I was expecting to get some tips and tricks on dazzling book reviewers and securing those great reviews. If this author’s blog post is any indication, my first instinct was right on. The only way to get a good review is to write a good novel. Just make sure that novel gets into the hands of the appropriate reviewers. If not, you have no one but yourself to blame.

As to the blog post on avoiding bad reviews, there’s an interesting lesson here. While the author may have been trying to spare colleagues from suffering the experience he did, the title was misleading. It gave the impression it would have all the answers on the subject, which illustrates one very important thing about writing. A good title can make all the difference.

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