dianne salerni author
dianne salerni author

InquisitorsMark_revised_finalI’m currently charging through revisions on my WIP — on page 120 out of 236 Tuesday night —  so slightly over halfway there! At this rate, I’ll have a draft ready for beta readers in about a week. It feels really good after struggling with the first draft for so long. Yay!

Rather than lose the momentum by trying to write an intelligent blog post, is it okay if I indulge in a bit of squeeing over my upcoming January release?  It’s either that or more cute cat and dog pictures …

The Inquisitor’s Mark has received several good reviews so far, but my favorite one is from Kirkus:

As a Transitioner, 13-year-old Jax Aubrey is one of an elite group of people who enjoy an eighth day of the week. While some Transitioners use the eighth day as a playground, others, such as Jax and his friends, understand the gravity of their responsibility. Transitioners must maintain the Eighth-Day Spell, which protects the world from the dangerous Kin. Jax, as the only vassal of the Emrys family, understands this charge more than most. When one of the most deadly Transitioner families claims that he is part of their clan, Jax is torn between his loyalty to friends and ties to family. Combining both modern intrigue and ancient magic, this second volume in what continues to be an inspired series does not disappoint. Salerni expertly handles the charge of expanding the Eighth Day universe as well as deepening her characters. Jax is an endearing mix of heroic and awkward as he struggles with his new identity. Supporting characters offer comic relief, romantic angst and delusions of grandeur. Readers will want to read this series in order, as the summary of the first installment is sparse and confusing. An exciting blend of Arthurian legend and organized crime. (Fantasy. 8-12)

Awesome, huh? I’m wondering if that’s the first time “Arthurian legend” and “organized crime” have been used together in the same sentence.

And because I love you all, here are the dog and cat pictures anyway.

luna sorcia tail 1

Got your tail!

 

luna sorcia tail 2

No, really. Got your tail. Chewing on it, in fact.

 

 

luna sorcia tail 3

Huh? Is something going on back there?

Sorcia says: Instead of reading reviews,
you should play with your dog.
In general, authors seem to agree that you shouldn’t read reviews of your book but that it’s almost impossible to resist doing so. Let’s face it. We want to read the good reviews. We don’t want to read the bad ones (or even have them exist at all, frankly).
Some authors say that maybe there is something to be learned from bad reviews – that the feedback will help you become a better writer. But liking or not liking a book is so subjective, it’s rarely the case that a negative review will give you something useful and substantial to work on. Author Victoria Scott recently wrote a blog post in which she bravely and honestly displayed positive and negative reviews of her books side-by-side to show just how contradictory they are. What do you do when VOYA praises the development of your characters and School Library Journal calls them “cartoonish?”
And don’t get me started on the star rating system! I have seen 4-star reviews that are mostly a laundry list of complaints and 2-star reviews which are extremely complimentary. What’s up with that?
So, should an author read them or not?
Personally, I have a screener – my husband – who reads reviews as they appear and forwards me links to the ones I might like to read. Additionally, if the reviewer tags me on Twitter, I assume she/he wants me to read the review, and so I do. (And I’ll follow up with a comment or thank you.) I also scan the “Friend” portion of my Goodreads page so that I don’t overlook when a friend writes a review, so I can thank them.
Other than that, I try not to look. (Sometimes, in a moment of weakness, I peek. This may end in delight or getting crushed, and if it’s the latter, I swear off peeking for a good long time.)
The one iron-clad rule that an author must NEVER break is this: Do not respond to bad reviews. No matter how unfair, nasty, or completely inaccurate they are.  NEVER. Not even when the reviewer sees fit to Tweet it, and re-Tweet it, and dredge it up out of archives to Tweet it again every three months. Grit your teeth and look away.
Then go re-read one of the good ones!

By the way, I’ve got a hardback giveaway going on over at Susan Kaye Quinn’s blog (along with an interview). Stop by to enter!

E-galleys of THE EIGHTH DAY were recently released via Edelweiss and NetGalley, and I believe the physical ARCs will be mailed out soon, if they haven’t been already. I started seeing THE EIGHTH DAY appear on To-Read lists on Goodreads tagged with egalley or for review and other similar tags.

I believe I’ve mentioned before that I tend to avoid reviews on Goodreads — or at least, that I only read the ones from friends or ones that my husband points out to me as especially good to read.

But that’s not entirely truthful.

I definitely reach that point, after I’ve seen a few reviews and I know what readers, in general, think. But it’s really, really hard to resist stalking the first reviews for a new book. There are 153 text reviews for THE CAGED GRAVES on Goodreads, and I’ve only read only a small percentage of them. But when that first review for THE EIGHTH DAY appears, you can bet I’ll read it. And the second. And the third.

Waiting for them to appear is scary. And it feels even more so this time than for my previous books because the reviewers will be much older than my target audience.

Evangeline, one of the characters in THE EIGHTH DAY, lives only on a secret, hidden day of the week, skipping over 7 days at a time every midnight. This makes for a lonely and unhappy life, but right now I envy her a little. I’d like to skip over some time myself — and land in that future where I already know what people think of the book and I don’t feel compelled to read all the reviews!

Reviews. You need them, and yet … they can be painful. I’ve seen authors discuss (on blogs, on Facebook, on Twitter) whether or not they read reviews of their books. I’ve come to the point where I don’t read all of them anymore.
However, thanks to social media, there are other ways to “eavesdrop” on your readers which are extremely tempting and addictive.
The first time I discovered a link on Goodreads that showed me all the status updates related to my book, it was very exciting. That weekend, I secretly stalked a reader through my book and just glowed with pride as she reacted exactly the way I wanted her to. She was puzzled at the right spots. Touched at the right moments. Surprised and shocked just where I wanted her to be. Following her progress was like crack for authors!
The next time … well, I was sorry I looked. The next reader’s updates were snarky and unkind – every single one of them. This quickly cured me of clicking on that “status update” link!
Unfortunately, that particular reader linked all her status updates to Twitter, so I got to see them there, too. Which brings me to the next way you can eavesdrop on your readers: setting up a Twitter search for your book title. Some people will mention you in their tweets – which means they want the author to see what they’re saying. Those are fine. But if you search for your book title on Twitter, inevitably it becomes like that scene in countless movies where the protagonist is in a public bathroom stall and some girls come in talking about her, never knowing she is there.
The habit of looking on the Twitter feed is harder to break (at least for me) than checking Goodreads status updates. If I hadn’t set up the search, I would have missed the blogger who described my book as “mysterious and beautiful.” Or this incredible review on the Kirkus Blog.
But I also come across things like this:
Tweeter1:@Tweeter2 How are things going?
Tweeter2: @Tweeter1 Slow.
Tweeter1: @Tweeter2 Ha, slow. So is The Caged Graves.
For almost a week, anytime Tweeter1 engaged in a Twitversation, she took the opportunity to bash my book. Later, she wrote a review on Goodreads that listed all the things she disliked about it – and gave it 4 stars!

Which brings me full circle – back to whether or not it’s good to read reviews. I have several 4-star reviews that nitpick the book to death and a couple of 2-star reviews that are very complimentary. Really, it makes no sense.
What I conclude is this: Better your book be read, reviewed, and talked about widely than for only positive things to be said about it. As for eavesdropping on the conversations … be brave, be selective, and consider that maybe you should stop snooping and get back to writing the next book!


I was pretty excited when We Hear the Dead received favorable reviews from Kirkus, Booklist, and School Library Journal. Those are some really powerful names to have backing my work, and I love every one of them.

But today I read a review posted on The Snappy Dragon that is like Crack for Authors — a lengthy analysis of the themes, characters, and historical background of my novel. This is a reader who saw, in Maggie Fox’s life, the same poignant elements that captured my attention in the first place and drove me to write this novel. She even noticed the good in Leah Fish, which I tried really hard to convey (and a topic I was actually planning to blog about next week).

Needless to say, Sri is an astute reader and a brilliant review writer! You really should rush over and add her to your blog roll before you do anything else today!