where the writers are
Moments of a Writer's Life, #71


The Moment I Realized Something Was Wrong: Crossing the Line was about to pub and I noticed a strange thing – there were no reviews from the pre-pub trade magazines. This struck me as strange. Not every book gets reviewed by any means, but I had been a reviewer for one of the pre-pub trades to the tune of 292 titles reviewed so I knew something about the business. I knew that if I were the reviewer who’d reviewed someone’s debut novel, I’d often be tapped to review their next so the same voice could say whether the new book met, exceeded or did not meet expectations. And yet here was radio silence. No review from Kirkus, who’d given my debut a coveted starred review; no review from Publishers Weekly, who had called it “hilarious and original.” What was going on? I contacted the Publicity department, conveying my fears that somehow the Advanced Reader Copies had not been sent in time, but I was reassured that I was wrong. I remained reassured for about five minutes. Here’s the thing: As with the first book, I’d provided my publisher a mailing list of reviewers, contacts I’d made on my own, that I specifically wanted ARCs sent to and had been promised they would be sent. The most influential reviewer on the list contacted me to say her ARC hadn’t arrived and she was eager to review the book. So I contacted Publicity again and, after apologizing, they assured me the ARC would go out to Influential Reviewer in the speediest manner possible. About two weeks later, Influential Reviewer contacted me again to say that it had not arrived speediest manner possible unless that was a new synonym for mule train. And of course by now the book was out. Nowadays none of this would matter or at least not to the same extent. But nine years ago? The pre-pubs still set the pace, making noise and calling attention to the books that booksellers and other reviewers should most pay attention to. And here’s the other thing, the bummer of it all: Book 2 was actually better than Book 1 – the few small places that did notice the book said so. Ah well.