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How to Offend Reviewers and Their Editors
(A Guide for the Newly Published Author)

 

Slippery SlopeAfter many years of effort, you succeeded in getting published. The uninitiated may think this grounds for congratulation, but anyone experienced in the publishing industry knows otherwise. The minute you become a published author, your ulcers start forming as you fret about reviews, print runs, publicity tours, advances, royalties, returns, agent's fees, breaking out of the midlist. Any sane person quickly realizes that being published qualifies as the most stressful and miserable thing that can happen to a poor unassuming writer.  

Fortunately, many seasoned authors have developed techniques for coping with this problem. Our intrepid Crescent Blues staff managed to convince a few of these has-beens -- uh, veterans to share their techniques. If you follow their advice you should be able to slow the growth of your career to a manageable speed -- or even stop it dead in its tracks.  

First, you must deal firmly with reviewers and with the editors of periodicals that publish reviews. Some writers merely provide ARCs (a.k.a. advance review copies) or review copies, inquire politely to confirm the book's arrival, then leave the reviewers alone. If you do this, not only do you risk receiving a review -- perhaps even a favorable one -- but you completely lose your chance to alienate the publication.  

Second, never assume that merely adding one more volume to the already formidable pile on a reviewer's or editor's desk will make them resent your book enough to trash it. You should inquire frequently -- daily, if possible -- about the status of your review. If you can manage to do this before the book could possibly have arrived in the reviewer's hands, so much the better. Continue to inquire at weekly intervals until a review appears, or until your book has been out for at least two years. With any luck you will make such an indelible impression that the editor will not only discard your current book, unread and unreviewed, but place you on the list of authors whose books they would refuse to review at gunpoint.  

If, despite your best efforts, the publication still reviews you, don't lose hope. You can still create an unfavorable impression. If you receive a positive review, contact the editor to quibble about some small error of fact. Invent one, if necessary. Neither the editor nor the reviewer will be inclined to reread your book to refute you.  

Negative reviews, of course, offer a much more satisfying scope for harassing editors. Demand a retraction. Accuse the reviewer of bias, ignorance, elitism, hard-heartedness or any form of moral turpitude that seems appropriate. Cite other publications that reviewed your book favorably -- again, invent them if necessary. Offer a bribe in return for a positive review -- few editors will be so abandoned as to accept this, so the odds are against your actually having to deliver on your offer, and you will soar to the top of the editor's blacklist. 

And if in addition to following these tactics yourself, you can enlist your publisher, your publicist, your mother, and fifty or sixty of your close personal friends to follow suit, no editor in his or her right mind will ever risk reviewing your book again. Instead of growing kudzu-like, your literary career will shrivel into a small, manageably moribund sprout. 

(Crescent Blues would like to thank the reviewers who contributed their expertise to this article. In future, we hope to offer similar guides on how to offend bookstores, readers and publishers.)  

Donna Andrews

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