When bad is good

This past summer, at a conference for the Romance Writers of America, I attended a workshop by Sarah Wendell of Smart Bitches, Trashy Books about how to respond to reviews (basically, by not engaging, ever, at all.), how to read between the lines of them, and how sometimes, if you’re really lucky, bad reviews can be good for sales. It was a workshop I knew would be especially relevant for me this fall, as I steam towards my debut novel release date on September 30th, and I figured it would be well worth an hour spent cooped up in a hotel conference room.

Now that the reviews for The Last Breath are starting to trickle in on Goodreads and book review sites, I’m relieved and thrilled and mostly relieved to say most are overwhelmingly positive. But you can’t write for everyone, and not every reader is going to love your book. The criticisms I’ve gotten so far all center around one issue ~ too much sex. Kirkus Reviews, a site my writer friends assure me is notoriously harsh on authors, even went so far as to call it “sexual acrobatics” that got in the way of plot.

Perhaps if I hadn’t gone to that workshop, this would be the spot where I would defend my book and dispute the acrobatics of my sex scenes. Perhaps this would be where I would climb up on my soapbox and challenge and complain and make comparisons to other books, big books, with far more sex than mine. But Sarah Wendell’s words are whispering in my ear: Do not engage. Ever. At all.

So instead, I’ll just sit back and hope that her other words apply here, too. The words that said that sometimes, if you’re really really lucky, bad reviews can be good.

Because sexual acrobatics? Who doesn’t want to read about those?

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About Kimberly S. Belle

Kimberly Belle grew up in Eastern Tennessee, in a small town nestled in the foothills of the Appalachians. A graduate of Agnes Scott College in Decatur, Georgia, Kimberly lived for over a decade in the Netherlands and has worked in marketing and fundraising for various nonprofits. She's the author of two novels, THE LAST BREATH and THE ONES WE TRUST (August 2015). She divides her time between Atlanta and Amsterdam. Keep up with Kimberly on Facebook (www.facebook.com/KimberlyBelleBooks), Twitter (@KimberlySBelle), or via her website at www.kimberlybellebooks.com.

Posted on September 19, 2014, in Blog Posts and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 7 Comments.

  1. Good for you! I got reviewers who didn’t finish the book because there was a child in it. Huh? It’s not like the kid was an alien or something. Haters gotta hate. 🙂

  2. I read all my reviews, both good and bad. The key is to not let them got to you. A bad review just means that person was not your target reader. I don’t like all the books I read, so I can’t expect all readers to like my books. You’ve got the right attitude. Can’t wait to read your book!

  3. I agree with Christy. Everyone is NOT going to like reading your book because “everyone” is not your target audience. Keep writing and good luck with your new novel.

  4. Thanks, ladies. As you know, it’s so hard not to defend, especially when the reviewers clearly haven’t read the book, but yeah. Do not engage. At all. Ever. 🙂

  5. LOL! Good attitude.

    Best to you with the release! What an exciting month for you.

  6. I managed to catch the end of Sarah’s session, and she’s so right, you should never engage. People aren’t reviewing the book for the other author–they’re reviewing it for other readers. When the author chimes in, it’s like they’re eavesdropping, and conversation (whether good or bad) just stops. People who can’t handle bad reviews just shouldn’t read them.

    Congrats on the book, and good luck! I’m looking forward to reading it – especially the sexual acrobatics!

  7. Sarah is so right, never respond. I once received a review from someone who had downloaded the ebook version, but had not yet read the book. She said it must be good because it downloaded intact. LOL 🙂

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