Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Starred Reviews: A Writer's Whine

A good review comes in, and I'm thrilled. In fact, I've been so fortunate that I can't remember a single horrible review of any of my books. Oh, sure, a line or two (or three) have made me wince and even gasp in dismay, but on the whole, reviewers (in print and on the web) have liked my novels. But it seems the gatekeepers have never ADORED anything I've written, because I've got no stars on my writer's belt. None. Zilch. I tell myself, "It doesn't matter. What really counts is the reader who connects with your characters." Or, more pragmatically, "Who cares about stars? What really matters is sales."

At ALA, I heard other sparkle-free writers murmuring wistfully about how starry authors are wined and dined by publishers and driven here and there in hired cars. I can't complain much because nowadays Charlesbridge spoils me rotten. My big worry about being constellationally challenged is that it might keep libraries from buying my books. Which means a kid who might have connected with Jazz, or Sunni, or Naima, or Sparrow won't know they even exist. Anyone else have a take on stars in this crazy business?

2 comments:

Barbara O'Connor said...

Before I comment on the starrly-challenged, let me tell you that I'm reading more about you than Paris Hilton these days. Girl, you are HOT! Your book party sounds awesome. Congrats.

Now, on to stars - I SO get where you're coming from. I've had my share of stars (she says, ducking while Mitali throws rotten tomatoes), but I want MORE MORE MORE. And when a review is "just" good (not starred), why oh why does it feel disappointing in some ways?

For one thing, I know my pubisher won't have that star to feature in an ad. And I won't be on the "A-list" in catalogues and such. I probably won't have a chance at the end-of-the-year "best" lists from the big-guy publications. Sigh...

I'll never figure out why some reviews are starred and others aren't or why one publication stars a book and another gives a mediocre review.

But I think your point about a book running the risk of being overlooked is the main issue here. I do think many hurried and harried librarians might just skim for the stars and miss other wonderful books.

I guess it just means we all have to work harder to get those books noticed and "out there."

zee said...

Mitali,
Congrats on a positive review. I am looking forward to reading your book soon, as well. It was lovely to meet you and your party was a blast! Thanks for letting me come and making the teens feel welcome.

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