April 27th, 2009

armed brotherly love

Yes Virginia, You Can Have a Review

First things first: I was delighted to get some awesome pictures of my Japanese edition from Tokyo.

Firstly, how amazing does Tokyo look? I really want to go. Plus, interior art! And a list of chracters I am so hoping someone will tell me about! Japanese people apparently cover their books with paper, which is a) interesting and b) makes me feel as if my book must be Very Racy Indeed. ;)

Secondly, how awesome are you guys? I feel like I am doing a little international tour with my book via the internet, seeing it in all its countries. Thank you!

Now, to the substance of the post. So, your book has been accepted by publishers and edited and advance readers' copies have been made. What's the next thing to make Sally Author bite her nails and take to reckless consumption of Jolly Ranchers?


Now, there are different kinds of reviews. There are casual reviews that people write on their blogs as I do here, and then there are blogs like Smart Bitches and
Dear Author which are devoted mostly to book reviews, and are much more professional about it than I am! The first two sites do mainly romance novels, and I have to say I always check them out before I buy a new romance author. So you see, the system works!

Online reviews are becoming more and more popular, and more and more important - but there is another kind of review, in trade magazines. Some of the most important, chosen by me because I hear of them the most and with no claims that I am, you know, actually right or anything: Publishers Weekly, Booklist and Kirkus. For teen and children's books, School Library Journal and VOYA (Voice of Youth Advocates) are also pretty important.

Okay. So we have Sally Author, who has written the sensational Falling Apart and Horny, the story of a young lady torn between the love of a zombie and a unicorn. It's been edited, and now she's waiting for reviews. She's had so many Jolly Ranchers that her eyes have changed colour, and one is now cherry and the other is watermelon. Why's she so worried?

Well, good reviews are excellent promotional tools. They put them in the press releases, and sales refers to them when they go to pitch client accounts. Librarians, publishers, literary and film agents, film and TV producers and booksellers read these magazines. Many libraries don't buy books that don't get reviewed. Reviews get put up on amazon, and Barnes and Noble, and Borders websites.

Reviews can also be used as pullquotes. What is a pullquote, you may well ask? Okay, so imagine Booklist say of Falling Apart and Horny: 'An unimaginative love story, with a heroine who abuses the love of two good sort-of men. The duel scene in which Bill the Unicorn tries to gore his rival is clumsy and defies the laws of physics, and one has to feel sorry for Vladimir the Zombie, whose attempts to get to Bill's brains are obviously foiled by the presence of a very sharp foot-long horn in the vicinity of said delicious brains. Vladimir is a wonderful character, who deserves better than the heroine: more zombie boyfriend books, please!'

On the cover of the paperback edition of Falling Apart and Horny, we might see 'Vladimir is a wonderful character - Booklist.'

There is also the fact that new writers worry about everything. I have days when I concoct long, horrible scenarios. I can become convinced someone will accidentally put a page from the Kama Sutra into my book and shocked readers will return it to shops saying 'You people should be ASHAMED of yourselves.'

Another thing trade reviews do is give stars to books they particularly like, which make people reading the magazine - maybe - take notice, and makes your publisher pleased with you. They are the best kind of reviews to get!

So - well, I am wary about putting up reviews, since I fear boring you all, and tooting own horn. But it fits in with today's post, plus the best thing about reviews happened to me recently, which is reading a review written by someone who read exactly the book you really hoped you had written. So, here is a sneak peek at a review in the May 1st edition of Kirkus.


Written by Sarah Rees Brennan

A fresh voice dancing between wicked humor and crepuscular sumptuousness invigorates this urban fantasy. Askew of everyday England there lies a darker world, where power-hungry magicians sacrifice innocents to demons and their victims peddle protection with like ruthlessness. Nick Ryves has spent all of his 16 years therein, perpetually on the run, his father murdered, his mother driven mad, his crippled older brother the only person he can trust. When two desperate teens seek out their aid, he will find the last few certainties of his life stripped away. Nick is an astonishing protagonist: vicious, deadly, callous, nearly feral, all but consumed with rage, yet rendered irresistibly attractive by his mordant wit, his clear-eyed recognition of his flaws and his terrified bafflement at his own fleeting moments of tenderness. Every character hides secrets, every conversation hints at double and triple meanings. From the pitch-perfect opening paragraph to the heartbreaking final pages, the narrative peels back layers of revelation, deftly ratcheting up the tension and horror to a series of shattering climaxes. The conclusion, while utterly satisfying, also leaves room for the story to continue. Delicious. (Starred Review)

When I read this, I jumped up from my chair and had to seize a lamp to keep it from falling over. Since I had the lamp already in hand, I danced with it.

And now you all know everything I know about trade reviews! And that I, uh, dance with lamps.