By David Nemeth
When a book is published there are usually two avenues it could take: it can be ignored or it can get a smattering of reviews. If you are an author and you get your book reviewed that's pretty lucky. There are so many books published every day it is impossible that every one of them gets the attention they deserve. Then your reviews will be filled with praise or condemnation.
When I find a book I love, I'll pimp the hell out of it in person and on social media. But if the book is
I get it, bad reviews suck. I hate writing them. Hell, I hate reading the book that forced me to write the review. But my hope with writing almost 200 reviews is that when I recommend a book by J.J. Hensley, Preston Lang, Marietta Miles, Chris Offutt, or Stephen Mack Jones, you will know I’m not blowing smoke up your ass . . . okay, there might be a little smoke blowing but that’s just called flowery prose. Yes, bad reviews may hurt, but I imagine great reviews feel way much better than a bad one.
Earlier this week, I published Jim Thomsen’s Shoulder Wounds. It was the second installment of his column where he reviews several books he’s read. Sometimes he likes them and sometimes he doesn’t. Things went haywire when the tweet I posted referenced a writer of a particular book that Thomsen didn't like, Thomsen wrote that her work for him "suffers from a sustained failure to lift off the ground and generate the sort of tailwind that makes the pages turn." A bad review and a social media call out. Apparently, this goes against social media norms and upset some people. As Thomsen pointed out in a later tweet, he could have equally gotten flack for subtweeting the author and subsequently accused of acting cowardly. After several days of thinking on this, I'm siding with Thomsen on this one. (But I'm also the kind of guy that doesn't understand the whole "don't talk ill of the dead" consideration.)
Where does all of this lead? For me, I will begin to post links to my reviews whether good or bad on social media. I won't hide behind the subtweet or the absence of social media any longer. Yes, bad reviews aren't what writers are looking for, but ask an author who has never gotten a review if they'd like a bad review or two. But also know this, every time I open a book, I am hoping that that book will be the greatest thing I've ever read. Every time.