Thursday, November 12, 2009

You Don't Hate Me! You Really, Really Don't Hate Me!!

Do good reviews matter? If one's first book sold few copies, but received excellent reviews from Kirkus, Publishers Weekly, VOYA, and others, will a publisher take that into consideration when deciding whether to offer a contract for a second book?
Yes. As long as we're in agreement about what "excellent" means.

I know some authors who think the world is ready to crack open and give them an oyster the size of Hong Kong if a reviewer simply refrains from impaling their book on a bloody spike.

Most really glowing reviews are starred reviews, and that's what really makes a difference to how ready I am to overlook bad sales history.

7 comments:

Anonymous said...

Can you define "bad sales history"? I've often heard that picture books don't earn out their advances. So is that a "bad sales history"? I'm clear on best-seller status but what differentiates an "acceptable" sales history from "bad"?

Also, can you go over expectations for how quickly a book should earn out? Granted this depends on the advance and print run, I know, but generally is it within a year? More?

And are there different expectations for a picture books vs. middle grade or YA?

Thanks so much!

Literaticat said...

I know some authors who think the world is ready to crack open and give them an oyster the size of Hong Kong if a reviewer simply refrains from impaling their book on a bloody spike.

I find that the reverse is quite often true. The (brilliant darling wonderful) authors that I know tend to find the one teensy sentence fragment that is "bad" in an otherwise glowing/starred review, commit the words to memory and worry them like unholy prayer beads.

Authors are kooky and neurotic. Love them, though!

Melinda Szymanik said...

Getting reviewed at all can seem like winning the lottery. A starred review? - I've died and gone to heaven.

Sadly its possible to have a great book that never gets reviewed and doesn't sell

Editorial Anonymous said...

Very true, Lit. I do think the behavior you mention is more common. And it's unhealthy, but not quite as unhealthy as thinking EVERYTHING is praise.

Anonymous said...

It really is hard, particularly for a first time author, to know how to take reviews. And often an author has other people in her life winding her up about reviews that are now accessible to anyone on the internet. I found it particularly helpful in my debut year to have an editor who forwarded my reviews with comments. "You rock!" when they were good, or when they were mixed, "this person really doesn't get your book, don't worry about it," or "let's think about this criticism as we work on our next project."

Just that little bit of support helped me put them in perspective and be less obsessive about them.

Kimberly Joy Peters said...

What about moderate sales with a small publisher (on a small marketing budget) vs. small sales with a big publisher (with a big marketing budget). Does any of that matter, or is it strictly numbers?

Anonymous said...

EdAnon: "Most really glowing reviews are starred reviews, and that's what really makes a difference to how ready I am to overlook bad sales history"

Not necessarily. I've seen stars next to decidedly mixed reviews, and truly glowing reviews for books that weren't starred. The latter seems more common with offbeat books from small presses.

And Kimberly, I think the small press where you had moderate sales--or at least sold above expectations--will be glad to have you back.