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It's a well-known bit of writerly advice. Don't argue back with critics/bad reviews. Unless you are Joe Abercrombie, who can turn such things into blog posts with admirable, incisive panache.

There's recent academic research on bad reviews which concludes
while well-known authors suffer from negative reviews by decreased sales of 15%, “For books by relatively unknown (new) authors, however, negative publicity has the opposite effect, increasing sales by 45%.”

it’s better to have your book attacked than ignored. Over time readers will forget the mean stuff said about you, and will only remember your book’s name. After buying and reading the book, however, they might remember again—but that’s a topic for another study.

I've never been so tempted to follow Joe's lead though. Let me explain. We're discussing some cover redesign for the US reprint of Irons in the Fire and so I went browsing on Amazon.co.uk and Amazon.com for an overview of current styles/trends in epic fantasy graphic design. I'll blog about that in due course.

While I was there, I checked in on the Lescari reviews. No, I don't do this daily, weekly or even monthly. The novelty wore off long ago. Now, there's someone in the US who really didn't like Irons. She can't believe it was written by the same person who wrote The Thief's Gamble. That's a shame, but since they are very different books in many ways, okay, I can understand that and live with it. The book didn't work for her. It happens and I'm only sorry she didn't find her reading time rewarded. But I'm not about to take that personally. I wish her happy reading elsewhere.

Then there's the bloke, reading Banners in the Wind, who is confident, in his not in the least humble opinion, that I know next to nothing about warfare (both in the big picture and up close and personal), politics, the historical realities of travel or magic.

Okay, he makes it plain he's an idiot, when he reckons this revolution couldn't possibly succeed given comparisons with the American Revolution/War of Independence. Because, right, that would be the only possible yardstick. Jerk.

Still and all, sitting here in my study, surrounded by several hundred reference books, with my Oxford Classics degree under my aikido blackbelt and at least one of my LARP/re-enactment weapons tucked beside the filing cabinet, I would dearly love to go and spit in this guy's eye, literally, never mind through some internet based spat.

I won't. There are plenty of reviews out there on websites and in magazines which tell me astute and observant readers have both enjoyed the Chronicles of the Lescari Revolution and appreciated the considerable amount of work I put in to make everything hang together.

Plus, please note, Irons in the Fire is going into reprint in the US, so enough folk are buying it and recommending it for that to happen. Yay.

I am bigger than this. I will rise above it. Yes, that noise you can hear is me grinding me teeth. That will stop soon, I promise.

Meantime, if anyone who's read the books felt inclined and had the time to spare to go and post their thoughts on either Amazon site, not to tackle this jerk* but simply to share their opinions, by all means, feel free.

Why yes, I do feel better for having a little rant. Have a nice day, everyone. I intend to.

*Do not start an arse-kicking contest with a porcupine because even if you win, the cost to yourself will not be worth it.


( 6 comments — Leave a comment )
Mar. 19th, 2011 11:04 am (UTC)
You are definitely bigger than that reviewer. And ranting is good for the soul.
My worst Amazon review is on the most dry and technical of my academic books, by someone who clearly has no idea whatsoever about what that book is about, what it's purpose is or, I suspect, about the place and period it covers. I spat nails for about a week all the same. Then, because I am a Bad Person, I fear I may have sneered.
Wonderful news about Irons.
Mar. 19th, 2011 01:44 pm (UTC)
My local library seems unaware that you exist, so I have not yet had the chance to read any of the Lescari novels, much to my dismay. But I will review them when I do get a chance.

American students are largely unaware that revolutions other than their own ever happened, or could ever happen. It's not entirely their fault; unless they have a very good teacher in secondary school, they are simply not taught about anything outside of the national history. (I know this, because I teach US and World History at the post-secondary level, so I get the little darlings after they haven't learned anything.) Additionally, they tend to value ignorance on an unimaginable level, especially the sort of person who would assume that, because you are female, you know nothing about war or politics, or travel, or magic. He's clearly not worth worrying about, he's not really in your target audience. He's more likely in Tom Clancy's target audience.
(Deleted comment)
Mar. 21st, 2011 08:50 am (UTC)
Proof that psychic powers don't work: at Bristolcon I was sitting right behind the guy who spent his entire 300 word review of The New World Order in SFX saying why he didn't like alternate histories (making all the points I had deliberately set out to tackle and do right, without his actually noticing because it's an alternate history so how could it possibly be any good) and his brain didn't fry as far as I could tell. Of course it's possible the magnitude of my mental wavelengths bypassed his brain altogether.

Anyway, I offered him a beer when the review came out (6 years ago ...) and he never got back, so I'm the better one.
(Deleted comment)
Apr. 2nd, 2011 05:09 am (UTC)
Amazon junk reviews
As a reader, I hate those reviews on Amazon. I feel like I'm being forced to listen to the dreaded co-worker who talks just to hear his own voice. I pay no regard whatsoever to those reviews. Many of them admit that the reviewer hasn't even read the book!

I look more to blogs for my reviews. At least with a blog I can get some sense of what else the reviewer has read.

I'm glad Irons is going into reprint, and FINALLY at least one of your books, also Irons in the Fire, has been released in electronic format, too!

-Elizabeth (who *hearts* Ryshad)
( 6 comments — Leave a comment )

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