A Moment of Jen
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Saturday, February 14, 2004
posted by Jen at 2/14/2004 09:29:00 AM

Thank you, thank you, thank you, God.

Thank you for giving me the strength to quit looking at Amazon.com almost two years ago. Thank you for staying my hand when I was tempted to pen a nasty review of someone who'd written unkindly about my books.

Thank you from not turning me into a diva who'd dump two agents, demand movie-star-like perks, turn down important magazine work, and, eventually, have her publishers decide that her second effort was unpublishable, and seek to recover its seven-figure advance.

Or else, God, I could have turned out being part of stories like this one, or this one, instead of being able to enjoy them on the level of most excellent Schadenfreude-tinged soap operas.

Full disclosure -- I've written one anonymous review for this book -- I'm "a reader from Philadelphia." (Which is true!) I posted it anonymously because I also wrote a blurb for the book, and I didn't want to look as if I was piling on.

Adam wrote one of GOOD IN BED's first-ever five-star reviews, back when I was still looking at Amazon every day (okay, actually every hour, and during the book tour visit to New York I asked my publicist to call the office to check my rankings at ridiculously regular intervals), and could still have my day (okay, actually, my week) ruined by a bad review.

And back in the days when I was reading my own reviews, I'd routinely vote "unhelpful" on anything that said my book was, you know, un-good.

These days, I prefer not to.

I think Jane Green had it right when she called Amazon's reader reviews as "a poisoned chalice." Writers can get way too obsessed with the ups and downs of the hourly rankings, and spend far too much time wondering if someone who wrote a bad review is just a random reader or someone who knows you personally (you, or your Mom, or your husband, or your dog), and has an axe to grind. They can also end up devoting inordinate amounts of energy that ought to go to writing to hitting the NO key on the "Was this review helpful to you?" question, or soliciting their friends and loved ones to pen positive reviews to counter the haters.

I'm not saying this is best for every writer, but from my perspective, it was easier just to opt out of the whole mess and concentrate on my work.

On that note, I'm happy to report that I turned in the manuscript for LITTLE EARTHQUAKES, my third book, last week. Now I'm just waiting to hear what the editors think (and amusing myself with the saga of the fallen nannies, and how Dave Eggers has nothing better to do with his time than pen anonymous raves for his friends' work).

Finally, a report from the set of IN HER SHOES! My sister's going to be a secretary (in the law firm of Lewis, Dommel and Fenick, natch), and yesterday she had her wardrobe fitting.

"I bet they've got amazing shoes," she said to the wardrobe woman.

"Oh my GOD, the shoes are NOT TO BE BELIEVED," she said.

"And then she took me to this truck, and it was full of, like $20,000 worth of Manolos, Jimmy Choos...." said Molly.

"Wow," said I.

"Then the lady asked what kind of shoes YOU wore. And I said Payless! Payless!"


"But I also said that now it's probably 9 West."

Too true.
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