Monday, July 14, 2014

A Book Publicist's Take on Negative Book Reviews

By Stacey J. Miller, Book Publicist
S. J. Miller Communications

Book publicists who snare book reviews for authors always want to give novelists and experts what they want: positive, affirmative book reviews. We want authors to feel good about their books, and all book publicists have worked with authors whose egos have been shattered by criticism of their writing. It's particularly hard for book publicists to read negative book reviews since, as book publicists, we take on only projects in which we strongly believe. That means a negative book review doesn't only reflect poorly on the author. It also is a statement about a book publicist's judgment, and a book publicist's reputation is only as good as the last book he or she negative book reviews affect a book publicist's bottom line, too.

So I must say, with just a tad of schadenfreude, that this book publicist was a bit relieved to read an article in BuzzFeed Books called "30 Writers Other Writers Loved To Hate." This Buzzfeed article quotes William Faulkner's scathing criticism of Mark Twain and Ernest Hemingway; memorializes Ernest Hemingway's disdain for William Faulkner (well, at least it was mutual!); and documents George Bernard Shaw's distaste for none other than -- are you ready for this? -- William Shakespeare!

Of course, Twain, Hemingway, Faulkner, Shakespeare, and the 26 other writers who were slammed by their peers (if not their contemporaries) in the BuzzFeed piece are long past caring about negative book reviews. And if they weren't, I would hope their support networks (inclusive of their book publicists) would tell them that critics -- whether they're fellow authors, Amazon shoppers, or professional literary reviewers -- always have an agenda.

So, next time you find a negative review of your book on Amazon (or, for that matter, in Publishers Weekly), remember that you're in pretty good company. If Hemingway, Faulkner, and Mark Twain persevered through criticism of their work, so can you. You're tougher than you think!