Monday, November 04, 2013



I've had the good fortune to have two of my books published in as many months (coming soon, "Bloodflow," a novel of gothic horror by Kevin Paul Tracy.) While this is undoubtedly, as I said, good fortune, it also means I now have two projects to promote at the same time, which can be overwhelming. But while I am, no doubt, overwhelmed, my plan is to dive into double-promotion head-first.

I wanted to take a moment to discuss public critiques of your work. These days, because of the Internet, virtually all opinions are given the same appearance of gravitas. In spite of our best efforts to remain impartial, there is still a part of the human psyche that is impressed by words in print, and when couched in a website and surrounded by the opinions of many others it can sometimes be hard to read these statements from total strangers with a critical eye. So when a critique is published on a website such as Amazon, it often carries with it a certain weight because it's in print on such a renown website, whether we know the person writing the critique or not. It is just as likely that the author of the critique has little standing as a critic, bears little to no education on the topic, and perhaps has not even read the book he is critiquing, as it is that he is someone whose opinion has earned the right to demand respect and reverence. But the opinion goes up on the site either way, whether it bears merit or not, and shares space with other opinions that may or may not be of greater authority.

One bad review on such a site can affect sales, and a mere two or three can kill a book entirely. Some publishers or authors have recruited people to counter such negative reviews with more positive ones. But then comes the risk of playing keep up, trying to post enough positive reviews to counter the negative ones. Then the question becomes, were your bad reviews earned, and you are merely struggling against a tide when you should take to heart what's been said, lick your wounds, and learn your lessons. Should you remove the book from circulation and try again with a different one?

The good news is that joy produces more energy than angst. Those with negative things to say about your book will expend their energy in a single flame-blast. Resist the urge to counter them, engage them. This is the carrion these 'Net predators seek, and it only serves to churn up more of their bile. If we deny them the fuel that keeps their fire burning, they lose interest rather quickly and move on. If you let them, these vulture will forget about you and your book quickly and move on to places where their venom is rewarded.

Fans, though, and those who loved your book enough to post a positive review are energized by their joy. They are the ones most likely to recommend your book to others and feed your word-of-mouth buzz. Dwell on these, read them more often than the negative reviews, or copy them and paste them into a file you can go back to and read whenever your confidence runs low.

In short, you make the conscious decision yourself which critiques to give the most weight and which not to. Don't give space in your head to those seeking only to be destructive and malicious. Only take to heart critiques from those who you know have the experience and gravitas to render a constructive one. Only listen to the opinions of those whom you respect and admire. And feed your inspiration with the critiques of those who love your work, because these are the Johnny Appleseeds of your success.

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