this is a spinal tap

Wow???

We have a baby. An amazing, beautiful, incredible baby. Tomorrow I’ll make a post with the story of his birth, but for now, I’ll just say that??? The love I feel for this tiny human is overwhelming. I cannot express how it feels. I’m in pain since I ended up with a c-section (irony!) But I did so well they’ve let me out after 24 hours rather than the usual 48. His cord was wrapped around his neck so his heart rate dropped every time I had a contraction! After 15 hours of labouring with an epidural that didn’t fully work they decided it was dangerous to leave him in distress and so I was whisked away to have a spinal tap and emergency c-section. It was wild and felt weird but Alex was with me and the instant we heard his first cry we burst into tears. It was the most incredible and beautiful moment of my life. I am so, so unbelievably happy. He’s perfect. We’re a family.

Authors, we need to talk about reviews.

This is gonna be LONG.

Over the last few weeks, I’ve seen a lot of posts about reviews. Authors pissed off at reviewers. Reviewers frustrated with authors. Various genres, different people, but the same basic theme - a review that rubs an author the wrong way, and an author who lets fly about it publicly. Y'all, we gotta rein this shit in.

Here’s the thing – I know it’s not fun to get negative reviews. I once had one that compared reading my book to getting a spinal tap. Another speculated about my sexuality, extrapolating (incorrectly) my orientation and experience based on what I’d written. The former was funny. The latter was humiliating. It killed my ability to write a particular pairing for *a year*. So, I get it. I know how much a review can hurt, particularly if it gets personal.

So what are we supposed to do? When a review is nasty, or the person clearly hated the book, or when the reviewer clearly hates the author for whatever reason?

Nothing.

We’re supposed to do….*nothing*.

Not a goddamned thing.

There are three things that are very easy to lose sight of, especially when a review hits a nerve or upsets you:

1. Reviews are for readers, not authors.

2. No review will ever damage your sales or reputation as much as your *reaction* to it.

3. Authors need reviewers, and we’re going to lose them if we make them feel at best unappreciated, at worst targeted.

Let’s unpack these a little.

1. Reviews are for readers, not authors. – Book reviews are product reviews. Books are reviewed by consumers for other consumers, not for the author’s ego or to give them pull quotes. Every reviewer has their own tastes, rating systems, quirks, pet peeves, etc., and they have the right to review your book accordingly. Yeah, sometimes we don’t like the results. But you know what? Sometimes that 1-star review for “way too much sex over the hood of the Ferrari” will be what makes the next reader 1-click your book.

2. No review will ever damage your sales or reputation as much as your *reaction* to it. – I think this is arguably the most important point I’m going to make. Authors live and die by their reputations. Unprofessional behavior will drive readers away a hell of a lot faster than a negative review.

I’m not trying to tell you that you can’t have hurt feelings or that you can’t be upset, annoyed, or pissed off by a review. Of course you can!  But be a goddamned professional about it. Vent, rage, scream, cry….in private. To other writers. To your crit partner. To someone who knows what it’s like to put a book out there and have it skinned alive right in front of you.

The minute you start ranting about it in public, it’s going to start reflecting on YOU a lot more than that review will ever reflect on your book. Whatever damage the bad review might’ve done to your sales will be a fraction of the potential damage of a public response. You want to minimize the damage of a bad review? Don’t draw attention to it.

I’m serious. Over the years, I’ve seen a number of authors who’ve flipped out about reviews, and you know what? I can’t remember the titles of any of those books or even what the reviews said, but I can suuuuuure remember who the author was. I can remember vividly who has ranted about mean reviewers, and especially those who’ve sicced readers on reviewers, but I don’t remember the books. Make of that what you will.

Do you want people to read your books, or do you want them to mentally categorize you as an author who can’t take criticism? Do you want people to review your books honestly, or do you want them to be afraid to even mention your books because you’ve proven you’ll go on the offensive if you’re not happy?  Don’t think about how much damage that 1-star review will do — think about all the 5-star reviews you’ll lose by revealing yourself to be combative and unable to weather criticism.

3. Authors need reviewers, and we’re going to lose them if we make them feel at best unappreciated, at worst targeted.

Reviews sell books. On Amazon, on Goodreads, on review sites – fact is, reviews make books move. Sometimes a review sucks, and yeah, sometimes the sales suffer for it. Sometimes a review is awesome and a book sells like hotcakes as a result. I know of what I speak because I’ve had both happen, including a book that barely sold 100 copies its first year, and suddenly sold thousands after a particularly spectacular review on Goodreads. Reviewers make your book visible, for better or worse.

But reviewers aren’t getting paid to do this. They have lives. They have things to do besides fend off attacks by angry authors. In recent years, there have been reviewers who’ve quit reviewing altogether because authors sicced their fans on them. Just today I saw a reviewer who was upset because an author lashed out at them for not reviewing an ARC promptly. (Spoiler alert, folks: reviewing a book weeks or even months after it comes out will STILL help its visibility and sales.)

The end result is we have fewer people reviewing books across the board, and that hurts everyone. Particularly those of us in niche genres.

Y'all, I get it. I do. I’ve had reviews that would make your hair curl. Some of them have been personally insulting. Some have suggested I skimmed a wiki article when in fact the subject matter was something I live and breathe. If you added up all my 1- and 2- star reviews from the last eight years, you’d discover I’m incapable of writing, know nothing about sex, have zero ability to pick up on speech patterns and emotional nuance, and have never been within 500 miles of a military base. I’ve been there, yo.

That stuff stings, but it’s part of being an author. You put something out there publicly, it’s going to be consumed by the public, and the public won’t always like it. Sometimes they’ll even say so.

Don’t be that author. Let people review your books in their own way and on their own time. Let people *hate* your books for any reason they choose to hate them. The readers who love your work won’t be put off by it.

TL;DR: Your sales won’t be destroyed by a 1-star review. Your career might, however, be damaged by your *reaction* to that 1 star review.

Medical Ninjutsu

If only kishi gave medical ninjutsu more emphasis and development. Medical ninjas will sure be deadly in combat. I mean, they know where to push the right buttons. They can easily put someone in coma, paralysis, sleep or even death if they hit the right nerves. A creative fighting strategy. Total bad ass.