Tuesday, August 31, 2010

I know the way we live now, what with living it and all.

Who cares if the NYT loves Jonathan Franzen?
A few years ago an independent study was done showing that a book review in the New York Times spikes sales for the book that was reviewed for just about twenty-four hours and then the sales drop right back down to where they were before. That’s true regardless of whether it was a good or bad review. I’ve had my work featured in the New York Times before. ... As far as I can tell my sales weren’t affected one way or another by the attention.

But when I got into Cosmopolitan, that was a different story...

My first review in Cosmo was exactly two sentences long. They said that Sex, Murder And A Double Latte was a “red-hot-read” and packed “more jolt than a Venti Frappucino at Starbucks.” That’s it. Two sentences next to a tiny picture of my book. Shorter than the paragraph the Times gave me.

On the day that Cosmo issue was released my sales rank on both Barnes & Noble and Amazon went from somewhere in the 5000 range to being the 18th bestselling book on their site/stores. Within days I was officially on Barnes & Noble’s Mystery Bestseller list and it wasn’t long before regional talk shows and radio shows were requesting interviews. When Cosmo actually printed a two page excerpt of my book Passion, Betrayal And Killer Highlights in their June issue a year later it got enough attention to piss off the religious right who said in an article circulated on the Christian Wire News Service that my sex scene was leading America’s youth into temptation. I was less surprised by the criticism than I was by the fact that the religious right was reading Cosmo because I’m pretty sure they’re not reading the New York Times.

But then again, of course they’re reading Cosmo because they know that Cosmo’s readers respect that magazine’s opinion enough to actually buy the books they tell them to buy just as Cosmo respects its readers’ tastes enough to review books that they might want to read. The Times doesn’t seem to care what their readers want from a book. In their effort to only review books that they think are deep and influential they themselves have ceased to be influential at all. So at this point I’m happy to let them review exclusively white male authors. It simply doesn’t make much of a difference.

Their loss, not mine.
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