Kristy Kiernan returns to the Ball!

Kristy Kiernan‘s first novel, Catching Genius, was published in 2007 by Berkley Books and went on to become a word-of-mouth hit with reading groups. Her second novel, Matters of Faith, was an IndieNext Notable Selection and won a bronze medal in the Florida Book Awards. Between Friends was published April 6th, and is available everywhere now.

Kristy lives with her husband in southwest Florida and still spends as much time as she can reading on the beach and daydreaming about the story she’ll write next.

Please welcome Founding Deb Kristy Kiernan to the Ball!

* * * * *

Wow — The Debutante Ball! I feel like one of those Disney Princesses (Princessi?) who gets all dressed up and starts spinning around with a goofy smile on her face. Of course if I actually tried that I would smack into walls and spent a week explaining to people that I really wasn’t an abused wife. Disney Princessi are clearly a much more coordinated bunch than I.

But I digress. (Come on, admit it…you’ve missed me!)

But — I have to just gush for a minute about how thrilled I am that not only is The Debutante Ball still going strong, it’s thriving, it’s better than ever. It has evolved while maintaining the original intent of bringing brilliant debut authors together to share their experiences as they dip their tender little toes into the roiling, shark-infested waters of the publishing world.

I don’t think I’ve ever envisioned anything that came together as beautifully in real life as I imagined it in my mind, and I am so absurdly proud. Congratulations to you all.

Now, back to the topic (I always had a problem staying on topic, didn’t I?): Reviews.


And because we all love our great reviews, I’ll chat about the not-so-great ones.

Now that my third book has come out (Between Friends, available everywhere!), I’ve come to a place of peace about rotten reviews, a Zen garden of joy and love if you will, a cool green place where all of God’s creatures come together in harmony and there is free cotton candy 24 hours a day. (The good kind, too, not the stuff in the bags.)

The name of this Utopia?

It’s the Glade of People Are Idiots.

I got there after wandering for a couple of years through the First One-Star Review Pit of Despair, the Dark Alley of the Second One-Star, the Avenue of Broken Dreams of Smacking a Reviewer, the Pretend It Doesn’t Make You Want To Scream Pavilion, the Stiff Upper Lip Reflecting Pool, the Everyone is Entitled To Their Opinion Arena, and the Maniacal Laughter Pool Hall.

I managed to find my way here the way I often end up helping myself … by helping someone else first. In this case, a good friend had a book come out, a pretty big book that made a lot of bestseller lists. But she was devastated by a rash of bad reviews that had been posted at the usual places — Amazon, GoodReads, Library Thing — and she genuinely couldn’t understand how people could be so, well, mean in their bad reviews.

And it does seem that many people who write bad reviews don’t just say they didn’t care for the book, they seem really quite angry about it, as if the author purposely wrote it and forced them to read it simply to infuriate them.

I was trying to come up with a way to make her feel better, and the best I could do on such short notice was to tell her to calm down, and think of the last book that blew her away. The last book that made her (as Evidence of Things Unseen by Marianne Wiggins did to me) lie down on the floor with it clutched to her chest and wonder why she was even trying to be a writer when this was out there.

Her answer was dreamy and wistful … Life of Pi by Yann Martel.

I made her go to Life of Pi’s Amazon page, and pull up only the one-star reviews and read them out loud to me. We alternated laughing with gasping in astonishment at some of the 120 one-star reviews of the book, and she slowly calmed down, and then, at last, the light broke through and a choir of angels sang.

“Oh,” she said, “people are idiots.”


Welcome to the Glade.

~Kristy Kiernan

14 Replies to “Kristy Kiernan returns to the Ball!”

  1. Hey Kristy–so GREAT to see you here. I miss you, baby. (And, oh, yeah, I know I owe you an e-mail.) Yes, this is the best advice ever. I’d like it in some of that diffuser oil stuff. I don’t yet have any of those slender sticks you use to diffuse the oil, but I’ve always wanted to be the kind of person who has them.

    A girl can dream.

  2. Kristy —

    I loved, loved, loved this sentence:

    “And it does seem that many people who write bad reviews don’t just say they didn’t care for the book, they seem really quite angry about it, as if the author purposely wrote it and forced them to read it simply to infuriate them.”

    I’ll go back to what my mother always said when as kids we would complain to her about some wrong that was committed during recess toward one of us: “Consider the source.”

    It’s true: People (who don’t like us and our books) ARE idiots.

  3. Welcome back, Kristy! And thank you for creating this space for women authors. I’ve loved being a part of it! Very, very funny (and sound) advice. If I ever feel bad about reviews, I’m going to pick a favorite book and read the amazon 1-stars. Brilliant!

  4. You were bang on with this sentence:

    “And it does seem that many people who write bad reviews don’t just say they didn’t care for the book, they seem really quite angry about it, as if the author purposely wrote it and forced them to read it simply to infuriate them.”

    It’s the anger that gets me. But I love your idea to check out Amazon ratings on some big books. I just looked up LOVELY BONES and there were 299 one star reviews!That’s insane!

    The blog post below is fun.

  5. Or you could always do what SF writer John Scalzi does: take the worst, most over the top one-star reviews and posts them on his blog. And when he does, and they’re outside of their natural habitat, the nasty reviews suddenly are revealed for what they are: unhinged rantings by bitter, angry nutballs.

    Sunlight is the best disinfectant…

  6. Here you are Kristy, back on your posting day three books later! The Ball has evolved and so have you. Bad reviews will always exist but why worry about a star when there are reader comments like this:

    “Just got this from a reader who finished BETWEEN FRIENDS: ‘”I am not proud to say this, but I am not currently an organ donor. I plan to change that after reading this story.”‘ Uhh, does it GET better that that?!”

    Whatever would a negative reviewer have to say about that?!

  7. “the Stiff Upper Lip Reflecting Pool,” CRACKING UP!

    This is terrific advice which I will no doubt employ say, in August or so.

    (Also? This is not very nice or evolved of me but I sometimes read one-star reviews of books I hate. I do not add my own reviews, though. There’s enough hating out there….)

  8. Aloha Kristi,
    I drop into the ball like I’m swinging by a cafe for a cup of joe and some conversation. Thanks for getting it started. Life of Pi, what a great example.


    Greg Gutierrez
    Zen and the Art of Surfing

  9. Kristy, you have nailed it. An Olympic “10” or a 5 STAR review all the way.
    You have taken this horrible thing that every author must endure and made sense of it, with humor. Bravo!!!

  10. As usual, Kristy, your advice is brilliant and your turn of phrase a delight. In a bizarro world aside, I will mention that true crime authors attract their own special brand of malignant reviewers: the criminal and his/her sympathizers/family. Look at any true crime book’s reviews and you’ll almost always find one or two or many that say they know the criminal and therefore they know better secrets than the author did or the criminal is wonderful and misunderstood. This is a great big reality check to all authors in every genre–There are all kinds of people in this world and any one of them can buy a book!

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