Thursday, August 25, 2005


Kate Rothwell reports that RWA has informed Medallion Press that, oops, their status as a publisher was revoked in error. Which is wonderful to hear, seeing that very hot author Beth Ciotta has just sold two books to MP, in addition to the three novels she just sold to Harlequin HQN.

Like Kate, I wouldn't stand behind a bike if RWA is riding it. Sincere congratulations to Beth Ciotta; this couldn't have happened to a nicer person. Unless Mary Stella sells five books next week, in which case we'll declare a tie.

Cynthia Harrison may call herself unkind names on occasion, but she has an excellent post about negative reviews here that speculates on the psyche behind the snark. Over at the Lipstick Chronicles, four women readers calling themselves DotMoms talk about how little reviews influence their book purchases.

Thoughts, opinions, anyone want to know what Beth's been eating for breakfast lately? Comments are enabled; let's see if the hate mongers have moved on.


  1. As a fellow Medallion author, I know I'm as proud for Beth as I can be! And you're right, it couldn't happen to a nicer person! (I've only met her once, this past June at BEA, and she went out of her way to make sure the mean New Yorkers didn't abuse this Alabama boy too terribly -- lol!)

    Congrats, Beth!

    (And I hope you and yours are doing well, too, PBW.)

  2. Anonymous12:29 AM

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  3. Anonymous12:48 AM

    This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  4. Holy Cow that comment spam is getting out of control. I was just at another blog that had to turn on that new word verify function. And if this 50% (before my post at least) keeps up here I wouldn't be surprised if you had to as well.

    PBW it's nice to see that you turned comments back on. And I hope that everything is nice in here.

    One thing I did want to point you toward is something I found while clicking through the blogosphere. I know you have quite a few aspiring writers on here (as was evident with that outpouring of support). And while your comments were off I came across a new blog by an editor from the slush pile who is handing out free critiques (short entries of course) on his blog. Who knows, it just may help some of your dedicated readers.

    Anyway the address is

    Since I don't know Beth I'm not going to guess what she's having for breakfast. But hopefully yours is nice.

  5. I usually really don't care what people don't like -- I want to find books to read, not books to avoid. I can do that all on my own. Besides, we all know it's just a matter of personal taste.

    I used to have a site called 'The Good Read' in which people could post only good reviews. I got snarky emails about limiting what people could post there but I didn't care. The idea was to find books people wanted to read. You could find bad reivews almost anywhere. The site was set up so that if you found a reviewer you liked, you could find what else they liked as well.

    Ah, for the good old days when I had control of a good sized server. Maybe I'll do it again someday.


  6. Anonymous6:57 AM

    I've been doing pretty good at not reading any reviews, good or bad lately. Good ones screw with my head (and not in a pleasant "ain't I cool?" way - they can derail my writing for days) and bad ones leave me perplexed and stinging.

    While a decent, balanced review might help in the proper venue, say in a reader-read magazine with a nice glossy cover pic, most reviews these days aren't in good venues. They are in open forums and places that hand out gold stars. Everyone's opinion is valid, but how many people actually care?

    The reviewer and, sometimes, the author.

    Supposedly any buzz is good buzz, but the best buzz is word of mouth. Too many writers live and die by their rank and rating, and it's just silly. Sure it's handy, but when you sell 10,000 books and maybe 100 of them go through amazon... the numbers don't support the angst. And there's a LOT of needless angst.

    Anyway, glad to see you've put comments up. {huggg}

  7. Glad you turned comments back on, PBW. I hope it goes okay. Turn on that new word verification feature if you want to get rid of the spammers-- since I turned mine on I haven't had a single spammer.

  8. Jeez, I'm feeling all warm and fuzzy here. Thank you so much for your kind words. I've been bowled over by the support of friends and acquaintances on the home front as well as blogosphere. Simply amazing. Still in shock about the multiple sales. As for breakfast, you had the cereal right, Bill... minus the gin. ;) Add a pot of coffee instead.

    Wishing equal excitement to my friend and critique partner, Mary. You're right. She IS a wonderfully, kind person. Speaking of... been thinking warm thoughts for you and yours, Sheila, and continue to do so.

  9. Anonymous8:26 AM

    Thanks for the shout-out to The Lipstick Chronicles! Our Susan McBride has written a blisteringly funny spoof that hits us where we live. But a tiny correction.---The DotMoms were guests on TLC a few weeks ago. The four of us who write columns for TLC are Harley Jane Kozak, Susan McBride, Sarah Strohmeyer and Nancy Martin.

    Thanks for reading. We enjoy your blog, too!

  10. Congrats, Beth!!

    I got three comment spam this morning on my blog. Crazy.

    Welcome back, Sheila!! I'm loving Into the Fire!

  11. Anonymous8:43 AM

    Hope you're doing good :)

  12. Anonymous9:12 AM

    I may be the odd one out, but I have never bought a book based on a review. I have never failed to buy a book I was interested in based on a review either.

    When I was in high school I read a book that I thought was great. Just a terrific read, loads of fun, great characters, it said something, loved it. Then I came across a review and the book was bashed by the reviewer. Ever since I have learned that reviews aren't really worth anything to me.

    Sometimes I surf over to Amazon and post positive reviews about books that I really liked though because some people might pay attention to such things.


    -- F

  13. Welcome back! Good to see your comments open. A pox on those who might leave nasty notes.

    Thank you for the compliment! I wish I could sell five books in a week. (I wish I was making more progress on the book that I'm writing!) Beth deserves this bountiful success. She defines sweetness.

    We who are Medallion authors are pleased that our publisher has been reinstated. I am very involved in RWA and, mostly supportive, but I knew that the revoking of Medallion's status was just plain wrong. I had no qualms whatsoever about writing the organization, quoting from stated policy, and explaining why the action taken did not follow policy. Glad that it's been rectified!

  14. I've only got two business spams so far. Am I not popular? *sniff*

    Sheila, welcome back, hugs and the best wishes for you and your family.

    It's nice to hear about Medallion, and not because that publisher is on my list of those I'd like to send my stuff. ;)

    Phoenix, I found that blog some days ago - seems the poor chap is getting inundated with requests by now, and soon you'll have to wait for a reply as long as with a real slush pile. Though I'm tempted to send him the first chapter of Storm over Hadrian' Wall once I've finished and polished it. I quite like what I have, but I'm not sure whether it works as the beginning of a novel.

    Reviews work for me if I know the reviewer and his/her taste, but I never care about the stuff and Amazon and similar places. Though I admit I like a well written, witty review for itself. The reviews I now and then give on my blog are not intended as anything more than little push to look up books that are not widely known. :)

  15. *Tackle-hugs SHeila*

    Sorry got a little exuberant there. Lipstick Chronicles rocks. Be sure to check out the post on office supplies (ahem Steph).


  16. Gabriele,

    Yeah he is inundated all right. I just managed to come across that blog on his first day posting to it and I warned him then that he would get popular.

    And I'm tempted to send him something too. I'm cruising along with Dark System but curiousity is getting the better of me and I wonder if I would have ever made it out of the slush pile.

    But the interesting thing I've noticed about it is, even if you don't send in something yourself. Just by reading and spotting mistakes it becomes easier to realize those same mistakes in my own writing. And being able to spot them before sending something off is a veery useful skill.

  17. Glad to have you back!!! You defintely need to check out the letter from ImaJinn. As for Beth, I'm over the moon for her. It couldn't have happened to a nicer gal. :-D

  18. I'm a reader. A voracious reader. And it's all about the reviews. Reviews from friends, reviews on Amazon, reviews in People Magazine, reviews in the New York Times or the local paper-- I don't have time to read a bad book. I'll always read a few reviews before I read the book. I'll always think twice before reading a book that has a lackluster Amazon rating. And I think there are millions of other readers out there like me.

  19. I wish I had time to read more but I don't - so I don't usually want to waste my time reading crap. So I find writers I like, I read their blogs, and I read books that THEY like. It has never steered me wrong.

    I can't remember if I've ever read a true book review somewhere other than an author's blog.

  20. Anonymous2:16 PM

    Reviewing books is my job. There are good reasons to do it--and I don't just mean the free books, or the whole "I get to read books and write about them and get paid for it, too!"

    One of the main reasons to do it is to bring to the attention of readers books that they might otherwise escape unnoticed. I try to select books that are likely to appeal to the readers of our alt weekly, but that aren't getting a whole lot of mainstream buzz.

    I also read a lot of reviews, because--as someone noted above--I don't have time to waste reading bad books. And it's a lot of work to keep up with everything that's out there, especially when I read in so many genres and styles. Reviews help me sort things out.

    As for whether or not reviews sell books, I'm a bit divided on that one. I've purchased (even special-ordered) books based on reviews; I'm more likely to use the library for a book that looks interesting but is not something I'd want in my permanent library. And I've had the delightful experience of finding one of my reviews folded and used as a bookmark in the library's copy of the book, so I know that someone else is reading my reviews as well.

    Kel Munger

  21. Anonymous12:44 AM

    I care about reviews for nonfiction, but not much for fiction. If I need a book on Perl, I want one that others agree is accurate and well-written. If I want a novel, I need to read the first bit myself. On the other hand, reading a good Locus review might make me pick up a first novel in a store, so there's some value there.


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