RomCon Day One

Greetings from RomCon in Denver.

The first day’s sessions started at 1pm, and each scheduled block featured events that were for ticketed patrons only, and you had to win a ticket to those author meet-and-greets. At one point, I believe there were only two events open to the attendees that didn’t require a ticket, and one of them was a publisher spotlight.

The hotel staff is amazing. The service is excellent and the facility itself is beautiful- there’s an atrium with a giant fountain and lots of sofas and chairs and a bar – it’s a marvelous facility.

There’s a huge mall of shopping in the hotel conference room, with earrings (I am totally tempted by earrings) and cutouts of Harlequin covers to pose with. There’s also an Author Alley meeting area, where authors are stationed at tables where fans can meet them, but they’re behind a series of tables with books stacked on tabletops, so it’s a little intimidating to approach them.

There’s also Memory Lane, where groups of authors gather to meet fans, but again, authors were there but I didn’t see any fans. There were excellent Harlequin cutouts, though.

The first panel I attended was “Author Fairy Godmothers to the Rescue” with Autumn Piper, Carly Phillips, Cathy Clamp, Cindy Hwang, Deb Weksman, Deeanne Gist, Elizabeth Boyle, and Veronica Wolff.

It was all about how “you, the reader, can help your favorite authors…” and “give you the tools you need to help ensure your favorite authors keep producing the magical storeis you’ve become addicted to!”

I tweeted about this earlier, that this panel’s write-up rubbed me so wrong. I started calling it “Ask not what you readers can do for you, but what your readers can do MORE for you.”

I was at a table with Jane from Dear Author, Tina, head of Samhain’s Marketing department, two verrry awesome romance experts from Borders stores, and in the room with us there were about 10 readers and bloggers, too.

Elizabeth Boyle began the panel on a negative note, asking readers in the room to step up and help eliminate piracy.
She asks readers not only to keep an eye out for piracy but to speak out against it.

Cathy Clamp noticed that GoodReads seems to be the place where readers are, and would love to see readers copy their GoodReads reviews to Amazon.

One point I heard more than once suggested that casual shoppers think a certain or increasing number of reviews is an indication of the quality of the book—not only did people like it but they took the time to write about it. Even if the reviews aren’t all positive, a number of them indicates a book worth reading merely because it was worth talking about. So if readers talked more, it would help more books.

All the authors agreed that any mention, any comment, any buzz is helpful, on Twitter, on Facebook, anywhere. They want readers to speak up and speak out to booksellers, to librarians, to other reviewers.

Nothing at the panel was earthshattering, except that I was a little uncomfortable being told as a reader what to do to support them. I think there are a lot of more effective ways to present this information, especially if they had focused on reader empowerment.

Reader opinions DO matter. This is absolutely true. But no one made the point that the enthusiasm of the reader who speaks out about a book isn’t something that can be solicited. It has to be earned. The enthusiasm of a reader eager to share has to combat so many obstacles – just asking for it to happen isn’t going to make it so. 

Then, in the afternoon, I attended the Book Reviewer Panel with Catherine Anderson, Cathy Maxwell, Courtney Milan, Deb Werksman, and Melissa Mayhue.

The panel got off to a rocky start because there were two rooms reserved for the same panel, so some of us were in one room, but most were in another. Once the reviewer panel reunited in one room, it promptly divided again across very diverse opinions.

You can read many of the comments from the speakers on Twitter, especially in the hashtag #romcon, but the panel was pretty much a study in contradiction: review books everywhere and anywhere you can…

…but when you review books, be nice. Don’t give a book 1 star because that effort, according to Catherine Anderson, deserves more than one star.

Readers can help make an author’s career, or kill it because negative reviews or piracy can stop a series from being finished if the numbers aren’t there…

…but reviews should be positive and supportive, because the book is an author’s baby.

Readers have an enormous amount of power and supporting a book can make a huge difference in an author’s career…

…but when writing a review, a reviewer should show respect for the author’s effort and accomplishment.

Seriously, what the almighty freaking hell was that about? Readers are resposible in some ways for the author’s career success… but only if they are nice?

I hope my dismay is palpable. I have plenty of it.

What makes me the most discouraged and frankly embarrassed is that at the panel devoted to “Author Fairy Godmothers,” the authors spent a LOT of time talking about what readers should do… on Amazon.com. Even after different Borders booksellers identified themselves, the comments were devoted to reader interaction on Amazon.

Edited after errors pointed out to me begin here – my brush was way too broad originally.

Furthermore, at the Book Review panel, some authors present only wanted to hear opinions about their books if they were positive, and couldn’t believe any published effort merited a 1-star review.

Catherine Anderson had contrasting opinions from the others on the panel, specifically Melissa Mayhew and Courtney Milan. Anderson held up Harriet Klausner as the standard of “professional reviewers.” Milan (I can’t believe I forgot this part, as it was awesome) surveyed the room en masse, after moderator Cathy Maxwell inquired earlier by show of hands who in the room had purchased a book based on word of mouth, on recommendations from a friend, and from a review, and asked who had purchased a book based on the reviews of Harriet Klausner. Not one hand went up.

When the reviewer on the panel, Jen from Bitten by Books, and her co-reviewer in the audience introduced the tired analogy that a book is an author’s baby, Deb Werksman reined that in quick and said, no, books are not the author’s babies. She has two real babies and if her baby acts up, “I can’t put it aside and start a new one.”

Ooh ooh one more thing – early in the Book Reviewer panel, Milan was asked how many reviews her book had received and about the impact of those reviews. Because Harlequin and LibreDigital had offered early review copies of Milan’s book to many individuals, she literally had hundreds of reviews of her book in various locations online. That impressive number was contrasted with the limited number of print review options a romance had a few decades ago.

[As pointed out to me in the comments by Milan, I was painting with too broad a brush here and made it seem as if all the authors on the panel agreed with Anderson’s sentiments - not my intention. My apologies, and hence the edits, which end here. My dismay and bafflement at the rhetoric used and the subtext of responsibility and presumption present in the commentary of others remains.]

Is this conference for readers? Or is it for authors to lecture to readers? A rough survey of hands revealed three readers in the “Fairy Godmother” panel – and preaching to them about piracy seemed limited in efficacy since, as folks pointed out on Twitter, it would be unlikely that they’d then go party at Piratey Books R Us afterward. And the reviewer panel was made up largely reviewers from various blogs, again comprised of authors describing what they wanted.

I’m hoping that tomorrow’s panels are more reader-focused instead of reader-lectured. I know the panel Jane and I have planned will focus on reader interests and will ask all sorts of questions about preferences in books, and there’s a panel about book cover development with Deeanne Gist. Christine Feehan and Jeaniene Frost will talk about vampire lore and mythology, and the booksigning at noon will probably bring readers out of the woodwork – I hope.

I want to hear the conversation, not sit through a lecture about what I’m not doing right.

I hope most of all that the readers who are here are asked, more often and more frequently, “What do you think?” I cannot wait to hear the answers.

Categorized:

General Bitching...

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  1. 1
    Shae says:

    What is up with the pushing of amazon.com? I can honestly say that I have never purchased a romance book from amazon.com. I buy my romance in the store (or the store’s website) and get ebooks from other sites. I actively avoid reviews on amazon; I like goodreads, because it encourages a lot more honesty.

    To me, a relevant goodreads review isn’t a well-constructed review, it is a quick note that one writes after reading a book. Something like, “The book was great, very funny with a surprising ending!” will capture my attention more than something that goes in depth on the plot and characters. If I wanted that, I would go to a book review site.

    Also, wow *gets off chatty soapbox*

  2. 2
    Becky says:

    How arrogant.  My only responsibility as a reader is to obtain my books legally.  Beyond that I don’t “owe” the author anything.  If they blow me away, I’ll talk about it with friends.  If it’s god-awful bad, they’ll get a 1 star review.  This isn’t some Fun-Fair-Positive kid’s league.  You don’t get the trophy just for showing up.  You’re an ADULT.  Put on your big girl panties and act like one.

    I can’t believe that in 2010 women are still trying to shame and manipulate each other with “nice”.  It holds back the genre, and frankly it holds us back as people.  Instead of “nice” let’s try “honest” for a while and see where that gets us.

  3. 3
    MaryK says:

    I was feeling kind of jealous of y’all until I started reading the tweets. Now I’m feeling much better about not getting to go.

    Reviews are supposed to help readers sort through the ton of published books to find ones they’d like. At least, that’s what I want out of reviews. There’s already plenty of “spin” in book marketing – irrelevant covers, homogeneous titles, misleading blurbs – spinning reviews makes them just as useless.

  4. 4
    Julie says:

    I write as well as read. It is the height of arrogance to think that any reader owes any author anything besides the $8.00 or so to buy the book legally. I also happen to live in an area of the country that is populated with (successful) romance authors. The vast majority are thrilled to autograph a book, spend a few minutes chatting with a reader about their work, and generally welcoming.

    I rarely review on Amazon, but when I do, I’m honest. If the book failed to hold my attention, was poorly written, or I couldn’t recommend it to someone else, I’ll say so. Mostly, I don’t review those books. What’s the point? I am thrilled to review books that the author in question used every bit of skill and talent to bring an unforgettable story to her readers. As a matter of fact, I finished Joanna Bourne’s “The Forbidden Rose” this afternoon. I can’t recommend it highly enough. Unforgettable characters, wonderful plot and pacing, beautiful writing—it’s what we all look forward to when we sit down to read a romance novel.

    I also read a book recently by an author who will go nameless that is one of the worst efforts I’ve ever read. Will I review it? Probably not.

    For an author to say that any reader owes them “more” because they made the effort to write a book – it reminds me of that old cliche about “close” only matters with hand grenades and horseshoes. Obviously, some books will be better than others. We all have our own ideas about what constitutes excellence, and what does not. I’m a little shocked to read that any author would rather a reader lied (and not buy her books again, or not recommend them to others,) than offer even a bit of constructive criticism via a review.

    Someday, someone’s going to hate my book. I hope I have the grace to ask them what it was they didn’t like about it, and improve my work if their criticism is constructive.

    One more thing: Forcing conference participants to “win” a spot for a meet and greet with aughors? Massive FAIL. What’s the point of asking readers to fork out a huge entrance fee, plane fare and hotel stay, if they are unable to chat with the authors brought in for the event?

  5. 5
    firepages says:

    That’s so awkward. I am an author and while I can understand that they just want support at the end of the day, being supportive doesn’t always come in a nice box with a pretty pink bow on top. Everyone is entitled to their opinion and shouldn’t change their review just for the sake of being nice and sparing feelings. People read reviews to get the truth about a title from many different points of view. Can you imagine all of the books on Amazon being given five stars?

    I am a big ebook reader and Amazon’s Kindle app is my drug of choice because they offer free samples of books. But I must put it out there that Borders just came out with an ebooks app, so check it out because there are a lot of free promotional books swimming around.

  6. 6
    katiebabs says:

    Were we at the same Book Reviewer Panel? Because some of the things you mentioned I didn’t hear. I never heard the panel say that readers can help make an author’s career, or kill it because of negative reviews. Also none of the panel experts said reviews should be positive and supportive, because the book is an author’s baby. The person who said a book is an author’s baby was a blogger from the audience.

    Many of the things you have mentioned were from audience members and not from the panel itself.

  7. 7
    Rosemarie says:

    To be fair, unless a book has tons of 1-star reviews, I tend to skip them because in my admittedly limited experience (I’m a recently reformed book snob who has a lot of romance to catch up on) they are some of the worst written “critiques” I’ve ever read. They are nothing like the quality reviews I read here! ;) They’re often heavy on the exclamation marks and light on the substance so I tend to look at the two-star reviews to give me more perspective. I understand that readers may hate a book and believe it to be such tripe that they’re unwilling to write anything more than “WORST EVER~!!@@!!1!!!” I’ve been there and I empathize (Julie & Julia I’m looking at you). Why waste your precious time writing up a lengthy review when you’re so angry you’ve wasted hours of your life reading something awful? But when I’m trying to decide whether or not I should spend some hard-earned cash, I gravitate towards the 2 or 3 star reviews which tend go into more detail about what worked and what didn’t.

    That said, I can see if an author was a little unhappy with 1-star reviews that say “this book sux. won’t buy her again. blah” because there’s nothing to be gained from that sort of critique. I could see how a steady stream of criticism without any elaboration could become maddening. However, the kind of coddling these authors demand from readers is repugnant. This may come as a shock to them but art is subjective. Not everyone will like an artist’s work. Quelle horreur, I know. Every artist will inevitably faced with detractors, some who may stridently advertise their distaste for the works in question. You either learn to accept all, or the part of, the review that resonates with you and move on or ignore it all and do whatever it was you were doing in the first place. Regardless you build a bridge and get over it. These authors clearly need to learn to do that.

    Like Becky said, the whole idea that every published book is a worthwhile book screams of those “everyone’s a winner” speeches they tell young children in competitive sports. Of course, by the time children hear these speeches they are smart enough to know that in our culture there are winners and losers and only the chosen few end up in the former category. If a five-year-old can figure this out, then surely these adults can as well.

    I will say I’m particularly disappointed that Catherine Anderson was spewing some of this nonsense because I’m a very big fan of her books and her petulance is leaving an extremely bad taste in my mouth.

  8. 8
    Rosemarie says:

    After reading katiebabs’ comment: if some of the quotes were improperly attributed/misrepresented then I take back my comment!

  9. 9
    Jess Granger says:

    I just wanted to raise my hand and agree with the “everybody wins” speeches.  We can spew “sunshine and sensitivity” until we puke from the rainbows and kittens overload, or we can be real.

    People will love you, people will hate you.  It’s life.  Now while I’m all for people being civil, actually having a point, discussing things intellectually, and being graceful in the face of differing opinion, let’s not stifle honest opinion.  It weakens us all.

    Thank you readers.  Thank you for being readers.  If all you ever do is enjoy a good book, hell, that’s enough for me.  More power to you.  Keep reading.  Just keep reading.

    Everything else is a bonus.

  10. 10
    Lyssa says:

    Thanks for the play by play of the conference. I am a bit bothered that authors would try and ‘suggest’ how reviewers should present their critique of the authors work. We all know how much work goes into a novel…but by the same token reviewers are not there just so the author can sell more, or get a good blurb. They are there (HOPEFULLY) so a reader can choose where to spend money and get a good read. Frankly if a reviewer can only be positive about every book they read, then they either have great luck in not finding any duds, or they have no real standard of taste. As a reader I look at past reviews to see if my taste agrees with a reviewers (there are some reviewers I read to see what books they hate…because if they hate them, I will most likely read an entire series of the authors in a weekend.)

  11. 11
    EC Sheedy says:

    I was a little uncomfortable being told as a reader what to do to support them.

    And I am uncomfortable as a writer that you had to hear such tripe. …shaking head…

  12. 12
    MaryK says:

    @Julie

    Mostly, I don’t review those books. What’s the point? I am thrilled to review books that the author in question used every bit of skill and talent to bring an unforgettable story to her readers.

    Consider it from the review reader’s perspective – somebody who doesn’t know your standards or tastes at all and doesn’t know about the bad books you’ve tossed to the side. It’s like she’s looking at a mountain range, but can only see the tops of the peaks. How does she know how high the mountains really are? She needs to see them in contrast to the valleys to fully appreciate them.  If a reviewer shows only the high point books, there aren’t any high points; they’re a flatline. The low point books are an important gauge for determining the reviewer’s standards/tastes and how well they match up with the reader’s.

  13. 13
    Felicia says:

    @Katie

    I wasn’t in the reviewer panel but it was said twice (that I remember) in the godmother panel.  I have to agree that I felt lectured to in that panel. First, that you would waste time preaching about piracy to a group of people that paid to come to a fan convention? You know that should be your publisher’s responsibility. The second thing that “irked” me was that after all the “work for us” lecturing that when I did speak up to say second someone saying w appreciate when “the author” interacts with us was being told how I should feel if they do not respond. I never said “I really hate when they don’t respond” so why be negative? I have never had that problem so it wasn’t even a thought when saying thank you. I think oddly enough I expect less out of my authors than they expect out of me evidently. That panel rubbed me the wrong way because I am here as a fan first and blogger second. I was hoping for a more geared towards readers helpful responses. The other part that irked me is at one point the panel really were just talking amongst themselves which really drove home the point about it not being about the reader!

    I have really enjoyed all my other panels.  I am looking forward to speed dating authors and the teas. I will be at the book panel tomorrow but hopefully it is more constructive :)

  14. 14

    I can’t help but wonder how out of touch the people on that panel are with the wider readership? Ask people to lie for you, or to sugar coat the truth, and there’s goes the respect of every reader who relies on reviewing sites.

    Be nice? Seriously? A nice review doesn’t send me rushing off to buy anything. Now if that book invoked passion in the reviewer, love or hate, then I simply have to find out for myself what the fuss is all about!

  15. 15
    Lori Foster says:

    My experience with Romcon has been completely different. I think they did do a special meet and greet for me, but that was not, by any means, the only opportunity to meet me. Most of what I’ve done here is drop by groups and chit chat. I’ve talked with readers in elevators, in the lobby, in the restaurant, in the various seating areas, at the provided meals, etc… And I’ve run into many other authors doing the same. Christine Feehan, Brenda Jackson, Cindy Gerard, Pamela Clare, Larissa Ione… I’ve been with and/or seen them with groups just “hanging out.” THat was the purpose of Romcon and it’s been an amazing success!
    The smaller “ticketed” visits were really for those shy folks who aren’t comfortable just saying, “Hey Author A!,” and thereby starting a conversation.

    I haven’t done any presentations, but the ones I’ve sat in on were amazing! One CSI presenter left me fascinated. He explained to readers and authors the diff between media exaggeration and the reality of forensics. LOTS and lots of readers were in there with me, and they were very entertained.

    On the fairy god mother panel… I didn’t go to it, but I’d think anyone who read the write up would know what to expect. Many readers ask authors what they can to, so this was an opportunity to hear about it. In no way were the presenters suggesting ALL readers do those things. But for those who wanted to know… a presentation. More than one person told me how much she enjoyed that panel.

    I don’t personally know any author who expects readers to rave about a book she didn’t enjoy. Or to even rave about a book she did enjoy unless that’s something she enjoys – some people are busy on the social sites, some are not. ::shrug::: If you’re not, no worries. If you are, feel free.

    I only wanted to chime in to say that hearing one perspective of something is rarely the best way to judge an event. Knowing what it takes it coordinate an event of this size, with this many people and presentations and things to do… it could have been a disaster. But so far I’ve seen only happy faces and heard only wonderful comments (not counting this blog. LOL)

    You can’t please all of the people all of the time, we all know that. But for me, this has been an amazing event! Wish you were here. ;-)

    Lori

  16. 16

    Furthermore, at the Book Review panel, authors only wanted to hear opinions about their books if they were positive, and couldn’t believe any published effort merited a 1-star review.

    I’m sorry, Sarah, but when did either Melissa Mayhue, Deb Werksman, or I ever make that claim? Catherine Anderson did. Jen at Bitten by Books did. More than one blogger-reviewer non-author in the audience did. But I think it is a little unfair to report as the view of the panel a thought that less than half of the panel—and a smaller percentage of the authors on that panel—espoused.

    I understand that you’re reporting the parts that made you feel uncomfortable, but I really do feel uncomfortable with the implication that I said that reviewers should not give negative reviews when I very specifically said the opposite.

    Only one author espoused that claim—Catherine Anderson—and to the extent permitted by the moderation, other authors disagreed with her.

  17. 17
    Lori Foster says:

    Oops – said the wrong author. I haven’t seen Larissa Ione. I meant to say Naliny Singh. My bad! (I’m hoping to get a photo with Naliny. My stupid camera batteries died just as I was ready to bamboozle into a group and steal a shot. LOL)

    Lori

  18. 18

    For a conference advertisied “for readers,” is RomCon hitting the mark?  I’ll admit to some sour grapes on my part as I submitted a proposal for my presentation, “Writing About Vampires” and was told they already had several discussions about paranormal fiction and didn’t need another.  That’s fine.  I get that.  But they emphasized to me in their rejection e-mail that this conference is “FOR READERS.”  My presentation is decidedly for readers, but it sounds like some of the other panels at RomCon are intended more for authors.  Anyhow, I’m sorry I’m not there to meet some of the awesome authors.  (Hope you run into a few readers there, Sarah.)

  19. 19

    This whole discussion makes me uneasy, not due to what may or may not have been said at the panel but simply because I’m so new to the reality of having readers. I have no clue what they should be doing for me, or frankly what I should be doing for them aside from continuing to write what makes selfish-old-me happy.

    I’m thrilled when they take any amount of time to share their opinions about what I’ve written, but some days I also want to curl into a ball and weep as I click my mouse to find out if those opinions were glowing or scathing. Other days (most days, I’d say) I feel pretty secure and can take a one-star review and think, “Well, a one-star’s better than a two or three—hate is a passionate emotion and I’d rather inspire passionate hate than a limp meh.”

    I’m constantly torn between wanting to hug the hundreds of anonymous people my royalties statement informs me have invested a few hours in my writing and wanting to run from them, convinced they’ve got pitchforks behind their backs. It’s a strange, intimidating and amorphous relationship and not one I’ve been able to ease into gracefully or begin to do any amount of basking in. But readers, whoever you may be and however pleasurable or miserable your experience in my pages may have been, thank you. Should we ever cross paths, I’ll look forward to hugging and/or running away from you.

  20. 20
    Sandy says:

    No published book deserves 1 star?  That’s not right…
    I will admit to crying like a baby when someone rated one of my books a 1 star on GoodReads.  HOWEVER, I also believe she was entitled to that opinion.  Tried to console myself with all the great reviews, but it’s amazing how I remember that 1 more…
    I don’t expect every reader or reviewer to love all my books just like I don’t like every book I read, even those by my favorite authors.  A good review is honest about what that reader thought about that book.

  21. 21
    Michelle says:

    I think how authors respond to negative reviews is a huge factor.  The authors that go crazy and threaten the reviewer, or try to manipulate reviews are the ones I avoid with a ten foot pole.

    Also the authors that chide, and tell reviewers that they are clearly not smart enough to understand what they are reading or listening to-ugh, they aren’t helping themselves any.

  22. 22
    Lori Foster says:

    Just my opinion – but it’s a subjective thing. Of course to some, books will deserve a 1. Sometimes a minus 1. LOL. Each and every reader is different, and what she’ll like or dislike is different. Out of 80 some books, I’ve had as much negative feedback as I’ve had positive. I’ve even had people threaten me. Any reader on a budget who buys a book that she ends up NOT enjoying will be frustrated and might want to vent. I get that. I don’t mind at all.
    I’ve never gotten too keyed up above reviews one way or the other. Many things factor into an author’s success, and no author should take any one thing to heart. Ditto on readers. Just because an author makes a million bucks a year doesn’t mean every reader will love her work. And an author just starting out, maybe not making more than $2 in profit so far, might be the best thing you’ve ever read.
    Viva la difference!

    Here’s wishing lots of happy reading to everyone.

    Lori

  23. 23
    Sharyn says:

    I am currently attending RomCon as a reader and I have loved it so far. I did not attend either of the sessions mentioned in this review specifically because I don’t write at all, and that included reviews. :)  However, I did attend an “Anti-Heroes You Hate To Love” session, which was fabulous, where we sat in groups of 4 while authors switched tables to talk with us. I got to meet, and really talk with, Elizabeth Hoyt, Jo Beverly, Anna Campbell, Cindy Gerard, Nalini Singh, and many others at that session. I also went to “Strip The Heroine” where several authors demonstrated, with real period costumes, what women wore in the various Historical Romance eras. I’ve had many opportunities so far to meet the authors without a ticket and I can’t wait for the book-signing today to meet some of my favorites that I might have missed.

  24. 24
    SB Sarah says:

    @KatieBabs: re”I never heard the panel say that readers can help make an author’s career, or kill it because of negative reviews.”

    I was contrasting the earlier panel about “Fairy Godmothers” with the later panel about reviewers. Readers have tremendous power vs. reviewers should be kinder.

    @Courtneymilan: you’re right- I stand corrected and apologize. I was too general in my summary about the rhetoric and comments in that panel and made it sound as if all the authors on the panel agreed with Catherine Anderson and with Jen from Bitten by Books about books being author’s babies and didn’t mention the excellent comments you made.

  25. 25

    @Sarah Given some of the very pointed comments made at the end, I understand completely why your write up had the focus it did. So no worries—I just didn’t want anyone to think I was hypocritically saying one thing on the internet and another in person.

  26. 26
    Lostshadows says:

    While emphasizing reviews on amazon.com seems narrow minded, I’ll admit to having a tendency to go there to find reviews. Too many other sites don’t let you sort by star rating, which is very useful IMO, and they tend to have a broader scope of products than a lot of places.

    The last time I actually bought a book from amazon.com… well, I’m sure I did at some point, but it’s been years.

  27. 27
    SB Sarah says:

    Ya’ll, let it be known that Milan rocked the casbah. I amended the entry above with a key moment (that I can’t believe I left out).

    @cara mckenna: “Well, a one-star’s better than a two or three—hate is a passionate emotion and I’d rather inspire passionate hate than a limp meh.”

    Oh, sing it. I have my share of one-star reviews, too, and it blows to receive them, but a ‘limp meh” is just as bad.

  28. 28
    Angela James says:

    From the #romcon hashtag, it looked like Courtney tried to make the point that all good reviews all the time don’t necessarily sell books, when she asked who in the room had bought a book based on Harriet Klausner’s reviews. I thought that was an interesting juxtaposition to counteract the “Harriet Klausner as a model for reviews” opinion and I appreciated seeing that she’d done that.

    There’s no way to say this without sounding like I’m somehow sucking up, unfortunately, but as an editor, of course bad reviews sting but they’re also very valuable, in getting a sense of what works and doesn’t for readers. As an avid reader myself, I very much like to see all spectrums of reviews, because it gives me a sense of whether I can trust that person’s opinion when it comes to spending my money on books. Those are the people, the reviewers, and the casual readers on Goodreads who enter my “trust network” and when they say “buy this book” my credit card comes out.

  29. 29
    Jennifer Armintrout says:

    Wow.  If I had paid to attend that event, I would be burning the hotel down right now.

    And seriously, if my books are my babies, I should be in prison for criminal neglect right now.  I don’t even remember the names of some of my characters.

  30. 30
    Kilian Metcalf says:

    Reader reviews are a mixed bag, and I take them with a grain of salt.  In my experience, they are poor predictors of whether I will enjoy a book.  Essentially what I want to know is whether a book is worth the investment of my limited reading time.  One feature of my Kindle that I love is the ability to download a free sample.  After reading a sample, I know whether I want to spend more time with these characters.  That tells me more than reader reviews whether or not a book will scratch me where I itch.

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