Thursday, July 12, 2012

I'm Glad You Asked...

By Laura Spinella

My original thought was to do a post about the upcoming RWA conference and RITA awards. I’ll be on my way to Anaheim at the end of the month for their annual gathering of romantic-minded authors and accompanying soiree where the RITAs are bestowed.  However, I realized that a dress, shoes and an airline ticket do not for a blog make.
Then, yesterday, I heard from a reader. Derek first wrote me about a year ago, and we’ve been chummy ever since. He’s a voracious reader, who visits Goodreads more often than I frequent my liquor cabinet. In fact, he reads so much, I worry about his vitamin D consumption and terminal paper cuts. Derek sent me this link to an article in Publishers Weekly. For the full effect, please give it a read.  The main gist of the article is Goodreads dialogue, and not necessarily pleasant dialogue, between readers and authors. Whether you are an author, editor, agent or the most important component: a reader, the article is thought provoking.
Direct from Facebook, the other social media Kool-Aid, is my conversation with Derek.  I would however, love to hear your thoughts on the Publisher’s Weekly article. If you’re a reader/reviewer, is it license to say whatever you want?  If you’re an author, how do respond, if you respond? 
            Oh, BTW, about that RWA RITA thing… If you could all keep fingers and toes crossed on the 28th, it would be very much appreciated! 
           Derek: I know we haven't talked in awhile but I stumbled upon this article about reviewers and authors and backlash on Goodreads, and was wondering what your thoughts on it?

Me: Derek, it's always great to hear from you! And you sure picked an interesting question for me... I feel like a Miss Universe contestant in the dreaded question round! Interpreter, please! Well, interpreter if one is going to spend a lot of time dissecting reviews anywhere, including Goodreads. 

Here's my take for whatever it is worth: I don't read them. I don't read reviews anywhere, Goodreads, Amazon...  I don't read them if they're glowing or a one-star kick in the teeth. I made that rule right after BD came out. It just struck me as "awkward" to sit around reading judgments about something that could never mean as much to someone else as it does to me. I spent six years of my life with that book. It's like toting your kindergartner to school, shoving him/her in front of the student body and saying, "OK, tell me what you think?" Reading is SO subjective, and no two opinions are going to be the same. To say that an author reads a negative review looking for ways to improve their writing, I wish them luck with that. What happens when the next reviewer says the exact opposite? I don't read the good ones b/c there's always a risk I might believe what they're saying. Seems like slippery slope to me.  

Lastly, I'd never get into a dialogue with a reviewer. To what end? If they disliked my book (and I'm sure some have), is a word war with me going to change their opinion? Maybe I'm just not any good at dealing with negativity, or maybe i just think life is too short. I do what I do. I love my book/s. Are they perfect? Heck no. But they’re mine. Part of the job involves putting yourself out there for the masses to comment on, like it or not. It's a strange caveat you learn as you go. 

Well, I hope that answers your question to some extent. Ask the next author and you'll probably get a completely different answer! I hope you're having a wonderful summer!! I'm off to CA in a couple of weeks... Again, I'd probably be happier alone in my sunroom with my laptop. Writers are strange people (-;


Laura Spinella is the author of the RITA nominated novel BEAUTIFUL DISASTER. Visit her at


  1. Fabulous post. I have just made a decision: I will not read my reviews! And I have everything crossed for that RITA…

    1. Thanks for stopping by Barbara Claypole White, whose debut novel, The Unfinished Garden, is out next month!! I think you shall have a grand time reading your many wonderful reviews to come!!

  2. Laura, I've got fingers and toes crossed for you to win that RITA.

    This is an issue I've been thinking about lately. I've been fortunate enough to have lots of good reviews from professional reviewers, some extremely perceptive. On Amazon, a number of people I don't know have given my book 5 stars, as well as a few I do know. Same with Goodreads. In each of those places, I had one 1 star review (each by a different reviewer) that trashed the book and then mentioned in the last line of the review that they either didn't read it or just skimmed it. I felt that was unfair--to trash a book you haven't even read. I didn't do anything, though, because I don't think it does any good to argue these things with people.

    I do read reviews, but I can certainly understand those who don't. the reviews--professional or amateur--are not meant to help us write better books. They're designed for other readers.

    On the other hand, I've seen on Amazon and Goodreads some of the ganging up and bullying that goes on. I've watched whole groups form around hating one author or one reviewer (who often hasn't done anything to these people) and trying to "get" him/her. It's a fact of life on the internet. I hope I never become the target of one of these groups, but if I do, I'll simply walk away. Arguing with a fool just creates two fools, as my Gran used to say.

  3. Thanks, Linda! I appreciate your good wishes and thoughtful comments! Your Gran sounds like one smart lady!

  4. Hi Laura - I'm glad I read this article. I'll explain why below:
    1) been looking for someone to review my book on Goodreads (I'm a new author) for a while and would like to connect with Derek - I can be reached via blogspot. **I know I may be opening myself for world of heartache here, but I think this is the only way for me to grow.

    2) I will not have the opportunity to go to Anaheim this year, so I would be looking forward to your 'wrap up' when you come back :-)

    I will have my fingers and toes crossed for you!


  5. Hi Laura.

    I was wondering if you ever made a post about our conversation, glad you did, it brings me joy to see my name here!! :) I feel like a movie star!! Haha. Maria, I would love to read your work, please don't hesitate to email me.

    Derek (the one in the article)