Friday, November 9, 2018

No Crossing the Streams

This is what wildly inaccurate reviews feel like. You press the publish button, something goes clunk, a review for a book that bears remarkably little resemblance to yours comes in, you blink, and you wonder what the hell just happened.

In this case, an aged Cuisinart lid gave up its seal, and here I am, wearing a gritty, smelly slurry of chicken liver and feline supplements. The only option for this was a washdown of the kitchen and a shower.

Recovering from a review that deliberately twists, misreads or otherwise misinterprets your writing is a little harder. On one hand, you want to correct the misconceptions, but holy cow. Where to even start?? Not to mention that it's thankless. On the other hand, there's that pesky truism about the book being the purview of the author and reviews being the purview of the reader and ne'er should the twain meet. It's sort of a Ghost Busters quote. "Don't cross the streams."

Am I saying you just have to sit on your hands when someone butchers your story in a review or blog post? Yep. Do not respond at all. That way lies madness. Your only real option is detachment. Develop the means to convince yourself that the moment you hit publish, your book is no longer yours. You've flung it out to the wide world and it now belongs to anyone and everyone who reads (or misreads) it. 

Remember this vital fact: a review says as much or more about the reviewer than it does about your story. Someone ripping up your story when all the other reviewers seem to like it? It's because you wrote the idea that reviewer has been nursing, but not writing, for decades. Someone assigning events to your story that aren't there? Reflection of the crap storm of their lives when they read.

A few of us on this blog have seen what happens when an author engages a reviewer who got the facts of a story dead wrong. Never, ever, ever have I seen it end well, no matter how respectfully the author approached the conversation. So just don't. If inaccurate reviews twist you up, DON'T READ YOUR REVIEWS. Not even kidding. Know your limits. 

And then, finally. Trust your readers. In the single instance when someone confused one of my books with -- I don't know -- a hallucination maybe and wrote a review based thereupon, other reviewers called them out in their reviews. You can't count on that, of course, but plenty of reviewers hate seeing factually inaccurate reviews, too, and will take pains to correct the misunderstandings. And that's super complementary, I think. 

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