Queries a Snarkling with a Scrapbook:
Dear Miss Snark,
I have a question about track records --
My first book was published by a small but reputable press, and I never really considered getting an agent because I knew it wouldn't make any money. I ended up getting more reviews than expected, and while some were very positive, others trashed it. I didn't worry much about it, and I still stand by the book.
The thing is, I'm about to start shopping another manuscript, and this one, though as strange as the first, seems like it could have a better chance with a larger publisher. I know I'm supposed to mention my history when querying agents, but should I try to justify myself a little or just hope they won't check my [online retailer] page and see what [trade magazine] had to say?
Nobody cares what the reviews said. Well, ok ...you do. And your ma. And your fifth grade teacher who now uses you as the example to the boys in the back of the room rolling cigarettes and leering at girlie mags "the last boy who did that grew up to be a NOVELIST so just watch your step there bucko."
The only thing an editor really cares about is how well it sold.
Review attention is one of those things that are supposed to sell books. Well, some do. Library Journal reviews prompt librarians. PW and Kirkus prompt the book trade.
Ask any publisher though and reviews aren't what move books: it's word of mouth. Buzz.
Off the book page features help with that. Does anyone honest to god think that reviews moved a single copy of The DaVinci Code?
It's nice to have good reviews. They make us feel like someone else out there read it and liked it. But when it comes to making a deal, cough up sales figures on a previous novel before reviews.
You're actually better off to have that mixed bag of reviews. "Well reviewed" is a secret kiss of death cause it usually means it sold-for-shit.