Thursday, May 1, 2008

Wheeler on Bad Reviews

I wanted to link to Andrew Wheeler's musings on writing negative reviews. I'm facing something similar currently, so it definitely spoke to me.

One of my favorite things about this reviewing thing is that I've gotten to meet so many wonderful people. Among them have been many authors. But when you meet a wonderful person, and then read their not-quite-so-awesome book, it sure makes it much harder to write the review.

Well, that's why we get paid the big bucks... oh wait.


John D. said...

I had a less-than-favorable review of a Michael Moorcock story on tap when I had the chance to meet him at the Nebulas last weekend. One does take pause when one meets the writer, but the trick is to persevere and be true to yourself. Hopefully, the writer would want you to do so anyway.

(I've since learned that Moorcock couldn't care less about reviews)

Karen Burnham said...

John- you're right of course.

Although I was going to say its tougher with a writer who's just starting out, but then I checked and the author in question has already had one well-received novel published before this one. That makes me feel better. Thanks for the impetus to find that out!

Of course, most authors will happily say that any publicity is good publicity. You may recall the review of Shadowbridge I did for SFSignal. It was a pretty mixed review - it had a lot of good bits but also a lot of annoying bits. Still, when I met Gregory Frost a couple weeks later, he was quite appreciative. Whew!

John D. said...

Good to hear he was appreciative. Not all authors are as appreciative.

Karen Burnham said...

I clicked through... wow. I've had a couple experiences with out-of-joint authors, but none with such a solid publishing background. Usually by that time they've developed much thicker skin.

I can understand why one bad bit in an otherwise positive review can stand out: authors invest so much in their work it makes sense they'd be super-sensitive. And lets face it, creative-types are a little different than us analysis-oriented engineering types.

I once reviewed a short story collection where 11 of the 13 stories were phenomenal, and 2 were weaker. On his personal blog, the author lamented the review. I couldn't believe it: 11/13 awesome! None bad! You can't do much better!

Still, thank goodness most authors have realized that its *never* worth it to respond to bad reviews. No good can come of it.