…As bad publicity. In 1946, Kirkus Reviews described Halldor Laxness’s Independent People as “A sprawling, unselective, overlong… A bleak and bitter book, with little to interest or attract the American reader.” In 1955 Laxness took home the Nobel Prize in Literature.
In their defense, he penned a few more epic works after People, works like World Light (1940), Iceland’s Bell (1943), and The Happy Warriors (1952). To their credit, they posted a new review in 1997: “an unforgettable characterization… few modern novels exhibit such masterly range and power. This is one of the great ones.”
Writers,” said Isaac Asimov, “Fall into two groups: Those who bleed copiously and visibly at any bad review, and those who bleed copiously and secretly at any bad review.”
Conventional wisdom holds that good reviews can boost sales for established artists by about 40%. Bad reviews seem to decrease sales by about 15%. But don’t even suggest such a figure to anyone from Hollywood. To them, bad buzz kills. Dead. So the pressure for reviews, and good ones, can be intense.
It is Known
There is good news. For new artists, any review–good or bad–will usually improve sales by a third. And the bad in most bad reviews eventually falls asleep leaving behind just our memory of a review. Maybe the adage is right. Maybe there is no such thing as bad press.
Oh, if if, Oh
Once Upon A Time every book review written had to give Five Stars. Book reviewers ran multiple accounts and made a decent living retooling the same review template for any author willing to pay for their services. A publisher even managed to manipulate their debut title‘s way onto the New York Times Best Seller list.
Just when things seemed to have reached maximum silliness, a writer obtained a trademark registration of the word “cocky” and went after fellow genre authors.
Sadly, it wasn’t once upon a time, and we weren’t in an Instagram video skit. Bookselling in the modern era found itself in the middle of another credibility crisis. The Great Cull of 2012 paled in comparison to the fake review and reviewer purge currently sweeping through the online platforms.
Hence my complete and utter joy at this gem of a book review:
This is a review of the newer edition of this book. I read the original edition a while ago and gave it 3 stars. As you can see, it now as 4 stars. Why the change? This re-written version has cleaner writing, better dialogue, and some great new details. I am incredibly impressed by how Pierce managed to greatly improve this story while keeping the plot and characters intact.”
Who. Wait. Wha?
I loved this so much I bought the reviewed book “Two Lives Three Choices” and a book by the reviewer as well. Not much, I know, but you do what you can. Maybe traditional and indie publishing in the modern era isn’t quite so bad after all?
Meh. I’ll give it 3 Fountain Pens out of 5.
I can always update the review later…
Wrecked by a bad review? Check out