Take It On the Chin

When publishing, even in academia, your work is sometimes reviewed.

In fact, the only thing worse than being reviewed is not being reviewed.

Perhaps your book is so awful, no one wants to review it?

I’d say I’ve had a mix bag of reviews — and I have to say that I often find myself agreeing with some of the flaws the reviewers spotted. With Fifty Key Figures in Science Fiction (2009), we knew that the standard review would consist of “Why didn’t the authors include x, y or z?” and that few would note that that would lead the book to be renamed Fifty-Three Key Figures in Science Fiction. It wasn’t the fifty best, it wasn’t even the fifty key, it was fifty key. Other keys are available. I know one person who seems sweetness and light in person, but who has only really been critical of what I’ve written. So it goes.

So I was sent a review the other day and its author, who I don’t know, didn’t like the work in question. They raise a valid point, but that aside I didn’t get the sense that they’d engaged with the book. I could write a letter of response, get all defensive, but frankly I’ve never seen that kind of thing happen without the complainant looking like a dick.

There was the author a week or so back who demanded a retraction of a one-star review on Good Reads and who proceeded to make themselves look more and more of a dick. Eventually they deleted their comments — but the internet never forgets. Ironically, whilst this has given them all kinds of bad publicity, I would say that  it has probably brought some people to the book, too. In various fora  where there have been Puppies  vs non-Puppies debates, I’ve seen people say that they will now read the book by X because the opposition hate it so much.

No publicity is bad publicity.

So, I’m saying nothing more public or specific about the bad review. I’ve dealt a few myself, and I’m bound to get a few in return.

What I do want to say — and a perverse part of me is sniggering at this — is the reviewer was poorly served by their editor. I recently wrote trust the editor, they are there to save you from yourself. I would hope that the editor could spot the misspelt names in your review, the wrong word being used and the error of fact. Because it’s a thread to pull at in the meantime.

Meanwhile, revenge is filleting negative reviews for pull quotes …

… joking. Honest.

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