Sunday, November 8, 2009

Snowy's Christmas Blog Tour: Week Six

Welcome to week 6 of the Snowy’s Christmas blog tour, which stops here today. In previous stops we’ve talked about the inspiration behind the book, and the writing and illustration process. Today, since the tour is stopping here at a blog devoted to reviews, I thought I might chat a little about reviews and what is like when the reviewer (that’s usually me) becomes the reviewed (when I’m the author).

Firstly, a little about me as a reviewer. I own and manage website Aussiereviews, also writing the bulk of the reviews you’ll find there. My reviews are aimed primarily at parents, teachers and readers, being not heavily academic or analytical. My reviews are also generally positive. I have an unofficial policy that if I strongly dislike a book for any reason then I simply don’t review it, rather than posting a damning review. My reasoning for this is that I simply don’t have time to review every book that comes my way, so I would rather focus on the good ones. Having said that, if I see deficits in an otherwise good book, I am prepared to mention them. I have no desire to mislead potential readers, who are the intended audience of my reviews.

So, being an active reviewer, how does it feel for me to be reviewed by other people? Honestly? Great. As well as the reviews starting to come in for Snowy’s Christmas, I’ve also had a swag of reviews this year for my other new release, Pearl Verses the World. Most of the reviews have been positive, and it feels wonderful to know that people love my book. As a reviewer myself, I know that the reviewer is not writing the review for me, but that doesn’t mean that I can’t benefit from the affirmation.

But what about if the review is negative? That’s harder. So far, Snowy has had only positive reviews, but Pearl Verses the World had one review which was a real shocker. It was a print review, so I can’t link to it, but it basically said the book was depressing, unrealistic and shouldn’t be read. The reviewer, in spite of having the book in front of them, also managed to misname the author. To be honest, though, I was probably only mildly annoyed. After all, I’d been lucky enough to get lots of really outstanding reviews for the same book, so I figured that this one reviewer was having a bad day. Or maybe, just maybe, that book was just not a good fit for that reviewer. After all, not every book will be loved by every reader. And as an author it is unrealistic to think that every reviewer will feel the same about your book.

Which leads me to my next point – how I respond to reviews. Established review etiquette is that the author/illustrator/publisher should not respond to reviews – that includes trying to answer the reviewer’s opinions, as well as simply thanking the reviewer. The reasoning is that this breaks down the professional remove between reviewer and reviewed. I actually agree with this wisdom – to a point.
Pre the internet, that remove was supported by the fact the reviewer and the reviewed would not cross paths terribly often – apart from, of course, industry functions, conferences and the like. However, in the new internet age, everyone is closer to everyone else. Through social networking, especially, reviewers, authors, editors, publishers, publicists rub shoulders on a daily basis. In this world, it seems almost silly to pretend that the review process does not exist. As a reviewer, I do regularly receive emails and messages from people thanking me for reviews. I don’t expect them, but I understand why people send them. To date, I’ve only had one email from an author complaining about my review. This was difficult, especially as I felt that the author had misinterpreted my review, but I did respond politely to this email. I might add here that it is because of this close contact through social networking and so on that I don’t accept review copies directly from authors. By insisting that books come from publishers I am able to maintain some distance between myself and the author until after I have written the review.

As an author, I try to not respond to reviews of my own books, because of this etiquette - with the exception of reviews which appear as part of one of my blog tours. In this instance, I do thank the reviewer because, although the review copy has come from the publisher, the blog visit has usually been instigated by me.

So, to Snowy's Christmas. To date Snowy has had, as I’ve said, some wonderful reviews, from:

Dee White, who said “It’s a truly Australian Christmas story with Aussie animals and landscapes. The tale is beautifully told by Sally Murphy, and David Murphy’s bright, funny illustrations give the book extra bounce.” (You can read her full review HERE)

Rebecca Newman, who said “this is a great picture book for celebrating Christmas in the heat.” (You can read her full review HERE)

Dale Harcombe, who said “It’s lovely to see an Aussie Christmas book that reflects the wildlife, colour and landscape of Australia instead of snow etc.” (You can read her full review HERE)

Pat Pledger, who said “In her captivating story with an Australian setting, Sally Murphy has managed to capture the spirit and fun of Christmas, while exploring the theme of fitting in and finding your own niche in life.” (You can read her full review HERE)

Being reviewed can be confronting. But I suppose the best advice I can give any author is to remember that every review is only one person’s opinion. And every review, good or bad, is publicity for your book.

If you want to learn more about Snowy’s Christmas you can follow the rest of the Snowy’s Christmas blog tour at the following links. See you there:

Week One: 4 October Deescribe Writing Blog
Week Two: 11 October Write and Read With Dale
Week three: 18 October Alphabet Soup Blog
Week Four: 25 October Let’s Have Words
Week Five: 1 November Sally Murphy’s Writing for Children Blog (you’re here)
Week Six: 8 November Aussiereviews Blog
Week Seven: 15 November Samantha Hughes’ Blog
Week Eight: 22 November Robyn Opie’s Writing Children’s Books Blog
Week Nine: 29 November Stories are Light
Week Ten: 6 December The Aussie Christmas Blog
Week Eleven: 13 December Tales I Tell
Snowy's Christmas is available across Australia in bookstores, Kmart and Myer,a nd online from stores including Booktopia.

1 comment:

  1. You make some great points here, Sally. I also find, as a book reviewer, that sometimes a book is simply not a match with me. That is nobody's fault, just how it is. Not everyone can like every book. Even with one author I adore, I have found one of her books left me underwhelmed.

    Thanks for your frankness, and all the best with the rest of your tour.