Ten writers for children. All with something to say.

8/4/09

Potato Skins

Time for me to develop a protective skin! The pub date for The East-West House: Noguchi's Childhood in Japan is fast approaching. My books are in the warehouse and out for reviews. Since this is my debut as an author, I'm more than a little bit nervous. Yesterday I received notice of my first review, on BookDragon, a blog for the Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Museum. I can't complain about the review (which is mostly a summary of the story). It's the blog response that concerns me, because it challenges my facts. I have good sources for my information. Is it lame to write a response directing bloggers to my sources? Actually I tried, but for some reason my post didn't show up. Years ago I carefully researched and illustrated a book about Mohawk Sky Dancers and the building of the Empire State Building. There was a famous photographer, Lewis Wickes Hine, who documented the construction. I relied on his images when developing my compositions. Nonetheless, I was criticized in a review for being historically inaccurate. Readers of the review would not know that there were photos showing my illustrations to be correct. The words of the reviewer were already out there, and surely any self-respecting librarian wouldn't want to order a book they thought to be inaccurate. Arrgh! I'd love to hear how the rest of you seasoned authors deal with reviews.

7 comments:

Stephanie said...

Your book is lovely. I went and read the review and that reply. You know, there is always going to be someone like that. After a seriously hurtful post on Goodreads about The Compound, I made it a personal policy to not read any more "unofficial" reviews. I mean, PW gave me a star and yet I sat around fuming for days about one snarky person. Not productive at all...

Edie said...

Christy,
I understand completely! I'm a nervous wreck waiting for my reviews of ROAD TO TATER HILL. I've received one so far, which was good, but also gave away a major part of the story. I think we have to tell ourselves that reviews reflect only one person's perception and realize that many people are oblivious to reviews and make up their own minds. And I also am impressed with the huge amount of research you and Lauren do as illustrators!

Christy said...

Thanks, Stephanie and Edie. Anyone have some horse blinders to lend me?

David LaRochelle said...

My novel ABSOLUTELY, POSITIVELY NOT was chosen by teenagers as one of their favorite 30 YA novels of 2005. When they compiled an annotated list of all 30 novels, the teacher who reviewed my book gave it a terrible review, the only bad review on the list, calling my book stereotyped and an "over-simplification of a serious subject." I was crushed.

I guess what I've learned is that you can't please everyone. Just like our discussion of Pippi on the previous post, one person might love a book, while another finds it annoying.

Still, it's hard to see a book you've worked on for years dismissed rudely, and publicly, by someone else.

David LaRochelle said...

PS. I just read the review and blog responses you mentioned, Christy. The review is very positive, and the reviewer responded well to the person who questioned the accuracy of the book. And no, in this case, I don't think it would be inappropriate to leave a brief response mentioning your research. That's my opinion.

Christy said...

Thanks, David. Sorry your book was dismissed rudely after years of work. I guess that's just it--we work so hard and long on our endeavors, and then some flip comment, or uninformed judgement can bias others so quickly. I don't completely subscribe to the "if you can't say something nice, don't say anything at all" approach when it comes to reviews. It IS helpful to hear constructive criticism--guess I just want to affirm that words matter, and what we say has an effect on others.

terryhong said...

Terry Hong here -- BookDragon blogger among other things for the Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Program (we're actually not a museum -- YET -- as we are currently homeless ...) at the Smithsonian Institution. Your comment has been "approved" so it's up on the posting for East-West House. I just got back less than an hour ago from building houses (TWO! -- definitely a theme here) with my family in a small, very remote village in Nicaragua so was not able to access blog or email or electricity for that matter, and running water only every other day. But am back in overprivileged civilization now (humbled and mighty tired) so can get back to blogging, Luddite that I am!