In the hoopla of amazon.com’s new stance on ARC reviews, and the goodreads blacklists of Authors Behaving Badly, and even Anne Rice’s taking offense to a woman using her book in a craft project, the wisest thing a writer can do is keep her mouth shut when she gets a subpar review.
Accept it, be grateful that one’s book has been read, appreciate that someone took the time to voice their opinion, maybe even take some criticism to heart. And, above all, grin and do a little happy dance that the number by the little stars under your book went up.
Because, especially to a new author, reviews matter. Most of the good book promoting websites with affordable advertizing for self pubbed writers jury what they endorse. Many won’t accept books with less than 25 reviews. The contests for the “breakthrough novel” often require more than that.
But what happens when a review makes statements that go against everything in your gut, as a woman, as an artist, as a mother, as an educator?
Keeping your mouth shut feels like cowardice. Like you are perpetuating a stereotype that you’ve fought all your life, that was part of the impetus that drove you to write the book in the first place.
I felt like the book was written by someone who was imagining what happens at the sleep-away camps for smart kids at their school, and imagines how smart kids must act and feel. Since I was in this crowd at school myself, the whole thing rang very false. All the ‘chicks’ (author’s word, not mine, and it puts my teeth on edge) were totally hot and in bikinis and ready to get a little naughty. *facepalm* That’s really not what happens with smart kids. I promise. And also, quite a few of the people in my gifted and talented classes were… uh…. let’s go with NOT the pretty people.
And yes, I can defend our characters and their actions and language and get bitchy about the reviewer’s generalizations and do all the things that authors shouldn’t do, but that’s just silly and not the point.
My umbrage: Why can’t smart girls be pretty?
Should romance books for young adults only be written about people with below average intelligence? Where is it said that kids with brains don’t have a libido? At what IQ score is a young woman not allowed to revel in her sexuality?
And most importantly, what is the cutoff number on the SAT’s that demands one wear a one-piece bathing suit?
For the record, I was a smart kid. I wasn’t, by any stretch of the imagination, a pretty person. I was awkward and poor and underdeveloped and had issues with authority. But the Vermont Governor’s Institute for the Arts was an incredible program, and going there threw me into a huge mix of kids from all over the state just like me. And for those 3 weeks, where I was judged by my creativity and my talent and my brains, I was beautiful.