React, recoil, review

Two weeks and tuppence ha’penny til The Moon King is officially launched. I’ve finally accepted the shocking reality that people are going to read it. Read it and have opinions. This is good. This is progress. I’ve moved past blind terror and actually now find myself curious. Curious as to what people actually think of it.

Do they like the story? The characters, the setting? Did it feel original and different or derivative and samey? Were they surprised by the surprising bits? Did they root for and commiserate with the characters as appropriate, or not particularly care? Were the hours spent reading the thing well spent?

There’s a bunch of advice out there about reviews**. Some writers never read them, good or bad. I do, though. It’s as rewarding to confirm that the subtle thing you were aiming for wasn’t too subtle as it is frustrating to discover that the thing you thought was really obvious wasn’t anything of the sort after all, but more generally there’s value in understanding how different people read and enjoy a book or story.

I’m prepared for all sorts of reactions to the book. Obviously, I hope that at least some of it will be positive, but I can take it if it’s not. Just to have it mentioned in such and such a blog, or review site, or newspaper will be a thrill in and of itself.

But it’s not just the reviews I’m interested in. Reviewers are a special class of reader; they read a book with a slightly different intention than readers whose sole desire is to be entertained.

So, I’m interested in your opinions too. If you’ve picked up The Moon King in a shop because you liked the cover, or at a convention, or because “other people bought” it on Amazon, I’d love it if you’d let the world know. Anything from a tweet to a mini review in Goodreads or LibraryThing would be amazing. Best of all (and, I know, all writers say this – but it REALLY does help) would be a reader comment on the book’s Amazon page.

Or tell your friends, or leave a comment on this post. It’s up to you.

(But Amazon would be better.)


**Talking about reading reviews here. Responding to reviews is a whole nother area that I ain’t touching with a mile-long barge pole.

3 thoughts on “React, recoil, review

  1. At the risk of appearing pedantic (who, me?), I’m always (albeit mildly) annoyed when people talk of reviews being “good” or “bad”, not least because I’m assuming what they really mean is “positive/favourable” or “negative/unfavourable”. To me a bad review isn’t just one that tears a book apart: it’s a review that’s poorly written (in terms of grammar and use of vocabulary); a review in which the reviewer clearly hasn’t been paying attention (for example, making obvious errors when referring to characters and events); a review which places more importance on their own opinions/biases than the book in question. I’ve read a few “bad” reviews which were actually five-star positive, but I found them nigh on useless because I learned absolutely nothing apart from the fact (important thought it is) that the person LIKED the book.

    That said, the worst review I’ve probably ever read was that one Gary Gibson received, where the person dismissed the novel on what he saw as a mis-spelling of the title; quite apart from displaying an American ignorance of spelling conventions elsewhere in the world, that was absolutely of no use to anyone in judging the book – with the added downside of the attendant “one star” unfairly lowering the overall star rating on Amazon. Which, like it or not, is an important cue for some people.

  2. Yep, I’m aware of the potential complexity of the situation, Paul. Let’s just say I’m open to all possible combinations of reaction. Even if some will undoubtedly frustrate and please in equal measure. It’s all part of the game.

    Bring it on, I say!

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