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There Are Two Kinds of Book Reviews (and Not the Kinds You Think)

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Photo credit: Guido van Nispen

Authors have a love-hate relationship with book reviews. Some reviews make you light up and glow. Others make you feel like you’re dying an agonizing death.

Reading reviews of your own books is fraught enough to make even the toughest writer quiver. But what most people don’t realize is that there are actually two distinctly different kinds of reviews.

And I don’t mean good and bad reviews. I mean casual and professional.

Casual reviews

First, there are Amazon and Goodreads reviews. Those are casual reviews from regular people sharing their opinions.

They carry some weight with readers, especially in the aggregate. If one person gives your book one star, they’re just weird. If three hundred people give your book one star, then something’s horribly wrong with your book.

Professional reviews

Then there are the serious, big-time reviews from actual professional reviewers who work at industry magazines and websites. People in the know refer to these wellsprings of literary wisdom as “trade pubs.”

There are five big trade pubs: Booklist, Kirkus, Library Journal, Publishers Weekly, and RT Book Reviews.

And they are not easily impressed.

In fact, when I hear that advance review copies of my books have been sent to these guys, I kind of wish I had a bunker to go hide in until it’s all over. It’s that maddening. You have no idea whether the trade pubs are going to praise all of your hard work, or trample it into the mud.

It could go either way. Hence the nail-chewing suspense.

The reviews are in!

I’ve been stranded in that jittery no-man’s-land for months now, ever since review copies went out for my new book, A Kiss Before Doomsday.

As it turns out, my anxiety was entirely unnecessary. Here’s what they said:

“A long way from being yet another gloomy, claustrophobic urban fantasy. This is urban fantasy for readers who want to have a good time—even a few laughs… The villain, while plenty evil, is evil in an almost delightful way. A well-crafted and thoroughly entertaining novel.”
— Booklist

“Rising talent MacNaughton returns for the second installment of his offbeat, hilarious and terrifying urban fantasy series… MacNaughton has a real gift for developing quirky and crazy characters who enliven the zany storylines. Another terrific outing!”
— RT Book Reviews

“Comedy, fantasy, and romance blend together smoothly, and the characters are cute.”
— Kirkus Reviews

“A fun turducken of humor, magical exploits, and entertaining characters.”
— Library Journal

“MacNaughton’s delightful second apocalyptic urban fantasy picks up just after the events of It Happened One Doomsday… Adventure and humor balance the story’s horror elements. The ending provides just enough resolution to be satisfying while leaving plenty of questions unanswered to heighten anticipation for the next installment.”
— Publishers Weekly

Yay, they liked it! Wait… next installment? You mean I have to go through this all over again?

That’s it. Next time, I’m building a bunker.

Not really. But it’s tempting.

When you’re considering a book, how much importance do you give to reviews? Leave a comment below.

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