The rubescent glow that Lynn Farris's review of Drop By Drop on Examiner.com left on my cheeks has scarcely begun to fade:
"I found Drop by Drop... to be an exciting political thriller as well as a fascinating philosophical political treatise. While the political thriller part offered the reader an excellent whodunit, the philosophical discussion is what makes it a powerful book to read....
"I love the title Drop by Drop because it serves as a metaphor for so much occurring in the book and perhaps society today. Drop by drop we are giving up our civil liberties. Drop by drop we are losing our principles. Drop by drop, our government officials break the law and others ignore it....
"I thoroughly enjoyed this book and believe that readers of all political persuasions will like it as well. I wouldn’t be surprised to see this as an upcoming movie. Five stars out of five."
Now I understand that Examiner.com is not the New York Times, but I don't care. (Well, maybe a tad, but why the Times doesn't hire Ms. Farris is beyond me.) Any author will tell you the real joy of writing is connecting with that one reader, the one who sends you the laudatory email, the one who leaves you a Facebook message that she is gifting a dozen copies for Xmas. (BTW, I am not a friend of Ms. Farris, except now on Facebook and that doesn't really count, does it?)
Of course, it works the other way, too. Well-known mystery writer and critic Hallie Ephron gave my second book, Smasher, a real put-down in her Boston Globe review a couple of years ago:
"We follow the narrator as he caroms among the story lines.... Too bad, because with so much going on, this novel desperately needs a main character with an emotional core that can hold it all together".
I suspect a few more people read the Globe's reviews than read Examiner.com's. While this less than stellar review might have hurt just a little less than committing hari kari with a butter knife, research shows that Ms. Ephron did me a favor. A study in Marketing Science found that "For books by established authors, a negative review led to a 15% decrease in sales." Well that makes sense. But "for books by relatively unknown (new) authors, however, negative publicity has the opposite effect, increasing sales by 45%." This 45% is roughly the same, if not a little higher, than for positive reviews.
Those of us who are not quite selling as many books as James Patterson, Stephen King, or Dan Brown can take heart. A great review warms our hearts. A bad review increases sales. A win-win!