Friday, May 27, 2011

How to Write a Negative Review

First of all, this isn't a sarcastic post. This isn't a list of things people have done that hurt my feelings. This is serious, possibly misguided advice from a chick who doesn't write a lot of reviews but certainly gets a lot and certainly loves to read them.

And I do. I love reviews. I adore reading them and I adore getting them. It's probably my favorite part of all this, besides getting covers. And obviously I would love if everyone loved my books and they were all positive, but if I had to choose between no reviews and only negative reviews, I would choose the second in a heartbeat, and I am not just saying that. Having people read is incredible. Getting people riled up is incredible. Just knowing that you're not throwing words into a void is incredible. (And yes. I read the reviews. Not all of them; eventually I get bored or I run out of time. It's okay. This will be referenced later.)

In all my review-reading and review-getting, I've come across a lot of negative reviews. When they are not on my own stuff, they are my favorites. Aren't they everyone's? They are the most fun to read.

There's a lot of noise out there about bad reviews. People say you shouldn't write them if you are published or trying to get published. Say something nice or don't say anything at all, etc.

I say that's bullshit. But I also think there are guidelines that can help write a good, constructive, INTERESTING negative review, one that will be the most fun for people to read and the most helpful for people deciding whether or not to read it, and one that can be as absolutely negative as you need it to be without trampling unnecessarily hard on toes.

So yes, review my books! Please! If you so choose, review my books negatively! Review review review and I will love you forever regardless, but I will love you even more if you consider the following guidelines.

1) Don't address your review to anyone. Particularly, do not begin your review "Dear author."

There are a few reasons for this.
a. Your criticism is wasted on us. There is nothing we can do now. The book is out. You have read it. Everyone else who reads it will read it as is. However good your points are, we can't do anything. It is a waste to write to us suggesting improvements on published books. Don't try to do it with your review.
b. Your review is not for us.

This is the reason you should not care that I read my own reviews. Really. I am none of your concern. You are writing for other bloggers and for readers of blogs and for everyone else in the whole world who is not me. Seriously. Write for everyone else. Don't write to me.

(On a similar note, don't send me emails suggesting changes for the books that are out.)

2) Use profanity only one step above the book itself.
This means for my books, you can say whatever you want, but if you're reviewing a clean book, stick to "hell" and "damn," maybe? I'm unsure about this point, but keep in mind who's going to be looking up reviews of this book. Do you want them to write you off as vulgar and irrelevant or do you want them to read your review? Eh. I dunno. Just one to think about.

3) Don't try to fix it.
By all means point out what's wrong with the book. Point out every single thing. But try to dodge the urge to prescribe a specific solution to a problem with the book. It's pretty impossible for you to casually read a book and come up with the perfect solution, and it makes me respect you as the reviewer if you don't try. Look at the problems with the book and tear them apart and spend time seeing if you can explain what makes them so problematic. This is way more useful to readers and more interesting than watching you try to slap a band-aid over it.

4) Length is your friend.
Within reason, the longer the better. I like reviews that link to a review that agrees with them and a review that doesn't at the bottom. I also like negative reviews that make a point of mentioning any good things (if any) that they found in the book. Go the extra mile to make your review well-written and engaging.

5) Blame no one but the author.
This is one of the most crucial points, I think.

A lot of reviews blame the editor for problems with a book. I think it's hard for an outsider--meaning, anyone who wasn't the specific author and editor of that book--to see what an editor's role was in the process. (The typos you find in a book? That's something that happened either in copyediting or typesetting, and it isn't the editor's fault, and the author had a chance to catch that and should have done it. That last bit doesn't apply to arcs. They're still being caught at that stage).

You'll see reviews that say "This could have been so good if the editor hadn't tried to dumb it down," or "clearly the writer was forced into writing to fit this trend." Don't. It's our fault. If you have to blame anyone, blame us. You don't know what went on behind the scenes.

On that note...

EDIT: The lovely Jennifer Laughran left a comment so good that I am cut-pasting that bastard right into this post.

"Blame no-one but the author for the CONTENT of the book.

Do NOT blame the author for a) what the packaging looks like, b) where the book was printed, c) who is or isn't on the cover, d) some egregious thing the publisher did, e) some egregious thing the editor did, f) some egregious thing the author's agent did, g) where you can or cannot buy the book, h) that there were no arcs available, or you didn't get one...

or ACTUALLY BASICALLY ANYTHING ELSE to do with the production, packaging, distribution, marketing or publicity surrounding (or NOT surrounding) the book."

Anyone who read my post on my cover a few weeks ago will understand why I agree with this wholeheartedly.

6) Don't make up a backstory. Take the book at face value and as its own entity. Don't try to connect it to issues with the author's personal life or make guesses as to why the author wrote it.

By all means connect the book to what's out there and compare it to other titles. But don't try to make connections to it prior to its existence, you know? Try not to comment on the process of the book's creation--clearly this was written in six days, blah blah--and treat it as a found object.

7) If you didn't read it, walk away.
Don't write a negative review of a book you didn't finish. And if you're commenting on someone else's negative review, it's fine to say "Oh, good, now I know not to pick this up." That's fine. It's not fine to help the reviewer or other people in the comments bash the book if you haven't picked it up. You are not the reviewer, you are a commenter. Go bash books you have read.

And a special bonus one for authors writing reviews:

8. Pick on books your own size. More specifically, pick on books A LOT LARGER and that's it. No bashing anyone less famous than you are, ever. If you're in doubt, don't do it. Don't be that guy. Attack the giants or attack not at all.

And do be aware that it really can always bite you in the ass. I mean, so can everything that's worth doing, but don't go about it like an idiot.

So. Those be my thoughts. What do you think?

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Teen Author Carnival!

So Monday, May 23rd, I'm going to get my ass to New York City to be a part of Teen Author Carnival 2011.

This is a pretty huge deal for a couple of reasons.

1) It's the first thing anything like this that I've ever done. I will be a nervous wreck.

2) In a second I'm going to post the list of authors in the panel I'm in, and if you know anything about me, you will find out another HUGE MAJOR REASON that I will be a nervous wreck. (I will put this reason in BOLD so that you will be able to locate it even if you do not know anything about me).

3) I bought a new dress.

4) I will be signing stuff! And you can probably snag an arc of Gone, Gone, Gone. Or even Zombie Tag! And duh Invincible Summer and probs Break too, who knows!

5) My family will be there. Yes. YOU CAN MEET MY MOM.

6) Check out this amazing list of authors:

Carol Estby Dagg - The Year We Were Famous
Nova Ren Suma - Imaginary Girls
Carrie Jones - Need, After Obsession, Dear Bully
Scott Tracey - Witch Eyes
David Levithan - Every You, Every Me
Melissa Walker - Small Town Sinners
Michelle Hodkin - The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer
Elizabeth Scott - Between Here and Forever & As I Wake
Michelle Zink - Circle of Fire
Michael Northrop - Trapped
Leah Clifford - A Touch Mortal
Nick James - Skyship Academy
Amy Fellner Dominy -OyMG
Kirsten Hubbard - Like Mandarin
Malinda Lo - Huntress, Ash
Bettina Restrepo - Illegal
Caridad Ferrer - When the Stars Go Blue
Kody Keplinger - Shut Out
Torrey Maldonado - Secret Saturdays
THIS BITCH RIGHT HERE
E Archer - Geek Fantasy Novel
Gayle Forman - Where She Went
Courtney Allison Moulton - Angelfire
Susane Colasanti - So Much Closer, Something Like Fate
Andrea Cremer - Wolfsbane, Nightshade

7) I have practiced a new author signature. It includes a magic gay fish.

8) I did something weird to my hair! You should come see if you like it.

9) UM SO HERE'S THE REALLY EXCITING PART.

So the way Teen Author Carnival works is there are a bunch of different panels and you can see us talk and stuff! My panel is from 5:15-6:10 and it is called Teenage Angst: Getting It Right - The Emotions, The Voice, The Drama. And, well...here is who is on this panel.

1. David Levithan


2. Susane Colasanti

3. Melissa Walker

4. Kody Keplinger

5. Hannah Moskowitz

6. Gayle Forman

7. Torrey Maldonado

8. Caridad Ferrer


In case you didn't notice, I BOLDED THE NAME David Levithan.

Know why?

Because David Levithan is my FAVORITE AUTHOR IN THE WORLD.

I mean, just check out what I wrote at the front of the traveling GONE, GONE, GONE arc.



I am not only going to talk to David Levithan, I am going to be expected to say intelligent things before or after or possibly both David Levithan. I am going to be a disaster and I am probably going to be hilarious, so you have to come see.

So pretty please, if it is at all possible, come. It is Monday, May 23 from 4pm-7:30pm at the Mulberry Street Library (10 Jersey Street, New York, NY 10012-3332). It is also a zillion percent free, unless you buy something, obviously. Which you probably should.

Most (all?) of the writers on this list I've never actually met, so I'm hideously excited to meet them and hang out with them, and if you want to come and fangirl/boy, I will be fangirl/boying just as hard. We can do it together. But come. Say hi. I like you guys so much.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Even More ARC Tour News!

So! The arc of Gone, Gone, Gone is out--later than I intended, which is further reason that the dates I've given you are purely estimates and not anything to freak out about.

In case you didn't know, arcs of Gone, Gone, Gone are now available electronically on Galley Grab as well! So I had to do something a little different to make this arc extra-special. I totally encourage you to pick up and read the arc online, whether or not you're in the tour. And I'd love it if you'd consider doing the same review guidelines I posted for the tour itself--review/rate the hell out of it on Goodreads, but save posting it on your blog until closer to release date.

So! To make the arc exciting, I wrote all over the damn thing. There are comments and notes everywhere! I marked which parts were my favorite and which parts were added most recently. I have a little existential crisis in there about the inherent vulgarity in writing about history. One of my favorite things I did was underline the parts that are allusions to songs and other books. I think you guys will like that.

Now for your part. PLEASE fill my book with drawings and comments and whatever the fuck else you want! If you have pictures or drawings or anything you'd like to slip into the binding/into the envelope, I would LOVE that. And if the arc comes to you with any of these goodies, please look at them, enjoy them, and keep them safe so everyone else gets to look at them too! I am SO excited to get the arc back with all the evidence of all of you guys.

If you haven't emailed me your address first, PLEASE do so, even if you know I already have it from something else. Remember to put the week you've been assigned, as arbitrary as those dates are, in the subject line to help me organize. Thank you so much, and I hope you guys like the book!

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Tour Update

Okay, I did, as predicted, leave someone out, so we're going to be sticking someone else in with the Texas people. Since I'm too lazy to shift all the dates around (okay, it's not really a matter of laziness, it's a matter of keeping my records consistent) I want you guys to go by the dates I originally gave you when you're emailing me, but DON'T WORRY ABOUT ACTUALLY KEEPING TO THESE DATES. It's really not a big deal if the book takes until June or something to get back to me. It really doesn't matter. So just be prepared that those dates aren't actual, but PLEASE keep using them in your emails to me. They're just my way of keeping things straight. Thank you!

Friday, May 6, 2011

GONE, GONE, GONE's Travel Schedule!

Thank you so much everyone who signed up! I am mega, mega excited to get this thing out!

A few notes:

1) I assigned everyone a week that goes from Wednesday to Wednesday. I'm putting it in the mail on Monday so it will hopefully arrive to person #1 on time. It would be great if you could get it in the mail before Wednesday as well. This leads to point #2.

2) Don't freak out about the dates. They're more so we have an order than anything. This is not the army. Nothing is set in stone. Things happen, I understand! People get sick, people have birthdays, the mail takes longer than it logically should, etc. etc. If you need another day or two, go for it. If the book doesn't get to you by the assigned date, wait a few days before you freak out. Just email me and keep me abreast (teehee) of what's going on. I have the tour ending two weeks before the book comes out, so we have a lot of extra days to play with. It's all good.

That being said! If you look at this list and go "oh shit I'm on vacay that week/am getting my brain replaced/am getting my mailbox taken in for a tune-up" let me know and I'll switch you with the person before/after you. Which is easy becaaaause:

3) Everything was determined geographically. That's how the order was worked out. I tried to take the order that people signed up into account, but it very rarely made much of a difference (and thanks to the cruel world, the person who signed up first is getting it last. I'm totally sorry!). But the order of who gets it in Ohio first was decided by who entered first. Same as the people in LA. (Not Texas. You guys were just "how can I not go back and forth across the state a zillion times." Who knows how I did.)

I did it this way so the book can get from place to place as quickly as possible.

So now! A few rules!

1) You know this one already: rate (and review, if you like) on Goodreads ASAP, hold off on blog stuff until March or April. You are now OBLIGATED to review, fishies, even if you hate the damn thing. Tell us WHY you hate it. Tell us in excruciating detail.

2) If you lose it, I will starve you while you watch the other fish gobble up all the fish flakes that should be yours.

3) As soon as you read this blog post, email me. I WILL start tracking you down if necessary, but that'll make me cranky.

PLEEEEEEEEASE put the week you are getting the book in the subject line of your email.

IN THIS EMAIL, I NEED:

Your real name (and do let me know what name I have you under, so I can streamline everything)
Your address
The URL of your blog.


I don't care if I already have this info, send it again.

As soon as I get your address, I will give you (if I have it) the address of the person who comes after you. I won't give out your address until the person I'm giving it to has given me theirs, k? So everything's fair and all. Try not to lose the email with the address, but I'll have them all on file, so don't freak out.

4) Write in it. Yep. I want a note at the beginning or the end. It can say something about the book or it can just say hi or it can say something dirty (preferred). I want you to slip photos or drawings between the cover and the title page for everyone else (and me!) to see. I will write a little letter in it for you before it goes out! Return the favor. Make me smile when I get it back.

Oh, one last thing! If you are not on the list and you have no idea why not, let me know. Also if you're on it twice, because I'm really not all that smart.

WITHOUT FURTHER ADO!

May 11th-May 18th: A Book Vacation
May 18th-May 25th: Pam Harris
June 1st-June 8th: sassysam
June 8th-June 15th: Jeremy West
June 15th-June 22nd: Al
June 22nd-June 29th: Tara
June 29th-July 8th: Tracey Hansen
July 6th-July 13th: M.A. Chase
July 13th-July 20th: Jamie Manning
July 20th-July 27th: Mandie Baxter
July 27th-August 3rd: Allison
August 3rd-August 10th: Another Book Junkie
August 10th-August 17th: Christwriter
August 17th-August 24th: Tabitha Michelle
August 24th-August 31st: Kari
August 31st-September 7th: Kelsey (TX)
September 7th-September 14th: Yara
September 14th-September 21st: Jeanette Bruce
September 21st-September 28th: Jacob
September 28th-October 5th: Liz
October 5th-October 12th: Linda
October 12th-October 19th: Janelle Alexander
October 19th-October 26th: Cory
October 26th-November 2nd: fakesteph
November 2nd-November 9th: Fiktshun
November 9th-November 16th: Nora Coon
November 16th-November 23rd: Eliza
November 23rd-November 30th: Lindsay
November 30th-December 7th: Becca C.
December 7th-December 14th: Sara (Manitoba)
December 14th-December 21st: Nicole Loren
December 21st-December 28th: Jamie Kline
December 28th-January 4th: Rachael
January 4th-January 11th: Erin Thomas
January 11th-January 18th: Erin (Michigan)
January 18th-January 25th: Loren Chase
January 25th-February 1st: Jamie B. (OH)
February 1st-February 8th: Lydia Brunswick
February 8th-February 15th: Amanda Sage
February 15th-February 22nd: Jess Tudor
February 22nd-February 29th: Kelsey (NJ)
February 29th-March 7th: Mbee
March 7th-March 14th: April
March 14th-March 21st: Weechagirl
March 21st-March 28th: Miranda White
March 28th-April 4th: Brittany Moore
April 4th-forever: Hannah Moskowitz

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

I'm Very Excited About This

EDIT: AAAAND WE'RE CLOSED. Thanks everyone!

So. I have this thing. Look at it!



It's an arc of GONE, GONE, GONE! (and here it is all snuggled with the rest)...





In case you've missed it or you're new here (in which case hey I'm hannah what up have some pizza), GONE, GONE, GONE is my 2012 YA coming out with Simon Pulse.

I don't like to pick favorites, but...I really like this book.

You can check out the official blurb right here, on the back of the book: (click to make it bigger!)



But I should say a little about it, right?

GONE, GONE, GONE is one of my very favorite things I've written. It's about love and guns and lots of other ugly little things. It is dark and quiet and it is also really damn jubilant, if you ask me. It has my favorite narrator I've ever written in the form of this weird, passionate, awkward insomniac named Craig, and one of my favorite characters in Lio, who is maybe the character I've put through the most shit, ever, but is also ridiculously well-adjusted.

Also there are parents! They are present! And they are good parents!

And of course there are siblings, because it is one of my books.

Anyway. I hope you like it because I really do.

BUT HERE'S THE EXCITING PART.

Usually, when I get my two arcs from Simon Pulse, I keep one for my greedy little self and give one away to someone on the blog.

But why give it away to one person when I can give it to all of you??

That's right, fishies...WE'RE HAVING AN ARC TOUR.

And guess what? This book doesn't start until April 17th, 2012, but if you guys help me out, you can have this damn thing really, really soon.

Here's the deal.

YOU ARE ELIGIBLE TO ENTER IF: You are in the U.S. or Canada, you are a book blogger, and you promise to review this book. (NOTE: My definition of "book blogger" is pretty lenient. If you have a blog where you will review my book, you're in.)

To get into the tour, you need to comment on this post telling me that you've done both of two things:

1. Added GONE, GONE, GONE on Goodreads. Right here.

2. Bought INVINCIBLE SUMMER.

Yeah, that's kinda gross, I realize. But chick's gotta eat. Just comment and be like "yeah, I bought that shit." It counts, obviously, if you ordered it and it's on its way. It counts, obviously, if you order/buy it as a response to this post.

(But hannah, can't we just lie and tell you we bought it if we hadn't? Yeah, you can, d-bag.)

I want to give each of you a week with the book, which means the first 50 people to comment are in. U.S. and Canada only, sorry, it's just not fair to make someone else pay the postage to get it to you, internationals. I love you dearly.

If 50 people don't enter, no problem! I'll close this after a week and send the book out however many weeks before release. So if 20 people enter, I'll send it to the first person 20 weeks before release. So if you want it now, tell your friends! The more people, the sooner you get it. EDIT: If I get enough entries, I'll consider extending the tour through a month or so after it comes out.

I'll organize it geographically, so the closest person to College Park, MD will get it first, you lucky dog. LEAVE YOUR CITY AND STATE in your comment, and later I will make you email me your address and I will pass it along to the person before you in the tour. Hopefully I will not fuck this up. I promise not to give your address to weird people.

So yes, you'll have a week to get the book, read it, and send it to the next person. I'll send to the first person, the last person will send it back to me. If you drop the ball and lose my arc, you will be BLACKLISTED FROM EXISTENCE. You don't want that.

Important note, worth repeating: YOU MUST REVIEW THIS BOOK, whether or not you like it. But! Please DO NOT post this review on your blog until a month or two before release date. But PLEASE PLEASE rate it, and even review it! on Goodreads or Librarything or wherever the fuck (but Goodreads, please, I'm a Goodreads ho) as soon as possible after you finish it. I need the buzz, kay? Let's grassroots this shit.

Any questions, PLEASE hit me up either in the comments or on twitter (@hannahmosk). Aaaand go!