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« THE TEN COMMANDMENTS II | Main | The Ten Commandments IV »

September 06, 2006


Jennifer Jordan

Completely agree and wonder how these simple commandments are not considered just common sense. Especially getting the book out in time for the reviewers deadlines and... wait. I sense a rant that would contain all the information you listed so nicely. I'll stop now.

Thank, Mr. M.

Roddy Reta

As a reader, I agree completely with Commandment #10.

Rachel Kramer Bussel

This is very interesting, from the perspective of someone who both reviews books, and has my books reviewed.

In light of #8, I'm curious what he'd (or you, MJ) think about Katha Pollitt's response to Ana Marie Cox's review of her book Virginity or Death! in the New York Times Book Review.

There's an interesting interview with her about it at the Huffington Post. see

Clearly, she did the opposite. I'm inclined to think that even if it boosted sales, by breaking this rule it still made her look like she cared too much. Even though I can see where she would take issue with Cox, she seems to make some of the same personal attacks, and it makes the level of criticism just further descend.

Lorra Laven

Hi David -

Congratulations on completing your first novel; a great accomplishment.

Also, thanks for these useful tips.

David J. Montgomery

I hadn't heard of this dust up, but I just clicked over and read the author's response. I thought it was funny and self-deprecating, and not insulting to the reviewer at all. (I'll confess, I didn't pour over it, so I might have missed something subtle.)

I don't think there's anything wrong with that. I once ran into a thriller writer at a conference whose book I had recently reviewed. I gave it positive marks, but did quibble a bit on a couple of points. When she saw me, she raised an eyebrow and, in her charming and reserved British way, quoted one of the negative lines from my review. I laughed and was a bit chagrined -- but mostly I was just flattered that she'd read the review and remembered.

It's all in how you handle it.

The kind of thing I'm talking about in the Commandments is really more along the lines of publicly griping or whining about a bad (but fair) review. I think that makes the author look petty.

You wouldn't think it would happen among professionals, but it does. I've even had authors I've reviewed send me nasty notes by email, complaining and insulting me. (And I'm hardly known for my poison pen. I'm generally considered to be a pretty positive critic.)

In almost all cases, I don't think there's any profit in it for the author. I know it must be emotionally satisfying, but it doesn't actually accomplish anything. (What is the author hoping will happen?) If anything, I think it just attracts more attention to the bad review, something which you'd really prefer to just fade away.

However, if you do insist on responding to a bad review, you might as well go all the way and do a Stanley Crouch. :)

The comments to this entry are closed.

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