Posted on July 22, 2006
Posted by John Scalzi
Note to aspiring authors: Just remember that for everyone of these you get, you also get one of these. And you have no control over either. So don’t fret over either. Just write as well as you can.
But the latter isn’t really a formal review.
I’m not sure the “formality” is relevant, Lars.
What I mean is, it doesn’t seem particularly well thought out. It reads more like an off-hand remark than a critique.
Well, you know. It’s a blog post.
Well, hopefully you can change your answering machine message to “I’m sorry, Scalzi can’t take your call dissing his book right now, he’s too busy cashing his royalty checks, dancing with his Hugo, playing tea party his daughter and enjoying life with his wife.”
Whoops, forgot to mention “rewriting his next book.”
Damn. The latter reminds me of a weak review one of my CD’s got where the cat just couldn’t seem to commit to hating it or liking it. Just felt ambivalent about it.
I’m gonna guess from the fantasy imagery here that these cats may not be your target audience. Celebration of the Apollo 11 landing not withstanding.
Well, to be clear, I don’t point out the negative comment to snark on it; I think people are perfectly entitled to their opinions, even when the opinion is “I don’t like this book.” I point it out to note two different people can (and often do) have two entirely different opinions of the same thing.
Well, I think it’s the “I don’t see why” comment that got me snarking. Although I would rather hear, “this just didn’t grab me or do anything,” than “Thank you for submitting your story to … We regret we can’t give you a personal reply…” any day. The first I can fix (maybe) the second is just non-committal (although understandable). But, you know what, your book is published. And you have a second and a third…
This is just my second day here. Im impressed with your ability to not take everything personelly. It took me forty years to relax, and not get torn up over every little thing. Your ahead of the curve.
I agree with Steve about the “I don’t see why” comment. I know it’s not what she meant, but that kind of comment always comes across to me as “the world is full of idiots, and I don’t understand them.” Especially when a book (or whatever) has been nominated for awards – then it kind of sounds like a “cooler than thou”-type argument.
To be fair, I had the same “I don’t see why” response to Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell. It’s kind of the feeling of missing the train: the story leaves the station without you, and you spend the rest of the time just trying to hop on. It’s also happening to me right now with Elisabeth Bear’s Blood and Iron. I’ll keep trying to hop on, though the story doesn’t grab me like her first trilogy did.
meh… you know what they say about opinions. I forget which author it was who said they don’t care if someone hates their book as long as they buy it first.
How’s TLC coming? (I’m not trying to be a pain in the ass this time– I’m actually curious).
“You can’t please everyone, so you’ve got to please yourself.”
Kevin Q: I had the same initial experience with Jonathan Strange, giving up after about 30 pages. Then I found the unabridged audiobook at the library, and since I had a few trips between Akron and Cleveland coming up… I ended up getting the book and alternating listening in the car with reading at home. And teared up at the end. Same happened with Moby Dick, too, of all things. The “sound” of some books just takes approaching from a different direction for me to begin hearing it, I think.
I can’t remember who said that no matter what you do or accomplish, there’ll be legions people willing, nay, eager, to tell you in great detail just how much you suck.
So true, so true.
And they might not always be wrong.
What were you doing that you came across this review anyhow? Did somene point it out to you?
My vast and well-paid network of spies tell me everything.
Don’t you have better things to do than go ego-surfing?
Actually, scratch that, I’ve seen your ego…
It’s shaped like Khazakstan!
Negative is negative; I think the two links make for a decent contrast. Yes it would have been better if both were in the same style but, well, lucky Scalzi, he didn’t have a formal negative review to link to on this day. It is particularly intriguing as I read this after a similar good news/bad news response today.
I got a very good review on a short story by a (first-time) proof reader, media person that I know. She loved what I’d written, thought the story was brilliant, absolutely publishable. A few hours later, I received a scathing “throw it away” from a regular proof-reader: my mother.
Talk about a head trip. *sigh*
I had the strange experience (at least I thought it strange at the time) of submitting a short story to one well-known S/F magazine and had it rejected because, the editor said, “While I like the premise of your story, I just don’t believe in the characters.” I submitted it to a second well-known S/F magazine only to be rejected for (and I *swear* to you, this is true) “While I enjoyed the characters and their relationship, I just cannot buy into the premise of the story.”
I later sold the story to an Australian anthology (which has yet to actually come out). Life is strange. And life in S/F is even stranger.
Taunting the tauntable since 1998
John Scalzi, proprietor – JS
Athena Scalzi, editor/writer -AMS
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