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Friday, October 17, 2014

You're Bent Out Of Shape Because A Few Reviewers Didn't Like Your Book. Boo-Fucking-Hoo!

Margo Howard
I came across an article in The New Republic written by former advice columnist, Margo Howard. In it she whines about Amazon Vine's review program and blames it for destroying her book, Eat, Drink & Remarry before it was published. Before writing this essay, I decided to read up on Ms Howard in order to find out a little about her so that I could write as much as an unbiased essay as possible.

Based on what I've found, she has an impressive resume. She's previously written for The Chicago Tribune, The New Republic, Good Housekeeping, and TV Guide. She's also written an advice column in Slate, Yahoo News, and the Globe. Her advice column, Dear Prudence, was also featured on National Public Radio.

For someone who was born in 1940 and who's had articles in syndication long before I wore my first diaper, I'm quite surprised that she's so naiveif not just downright ignorant—on how the pre-publication process works. In order for a book to be effectively marketed, pre-publication publicity is essential. Giving review copies to professional reviewers and to book bloggers before a book is released is one such common practice. However, Howard appears to only put Amazon's Vine program in her crosshairs. Rather than embrace the fact that not everyone's going to like her book, she's taken this "How Dare You!" childish response.  Are we to assume that Howard has joined the likes of James Patterson and other traditionally-published authors and author's groups in their frivolous crusade against Amazon? I couldn't help but wonder this because it didn't take me too long to find a review of her latest book, "Eat, Drink, & Remarry" that was recently published in the Boston Globe. What was interesting was that even this reviewer appeared to hate her book. One phrase actually stood out, "The only child of Eppie Lederer, a.k.a. Ann Landers, and Budget Rent a Car cofounder Julius Lederer, Howard grew up with such a mouthful of silver spoons, it’s a wonder she learned to talk." 


I doubt very much that Ms Howard will spend the remaining years of her life bitching about every bad review she gets. Trust me, she'll get many more. However, she's bound to also get a few good ones.

If Howard wanted to attack Amazon, a more valid criticism would've been for her to write about Vine's methods for matching products with particular reviewers. I've learned that the majority of people who don't like a book are those who aren't fans of the genre. For example, giving away a thriller novel to someone who typically reads science fiction won't necessarily yield satisfactory results for either the author or for the reader. Had Howard done this, she may gain more support. Instead, she comes across as a crybaby.