The Defense Rests by Camille Minichino

Camille Minichino

With three releases this spring, I’m almost promotioned out! (You can tell how spaced out I am when I make up a new verb.)

I’m stepping over myself trying to remember which name to use for which book. Am I Camille Minichino talking about the new Kindle version of my out-of-print “The Hydrogen Murder” (February 7)? Or is today the day that I’m Ada Madison (“The Probability of Murder,” March 6)? Oops, never mind, I’m addressing a dollhouse lovers meeting, so I’m Margaret Grace, promoting “Mix-Up in Miniature” (April 2).

Fortunately, I decided a while ago to take all promotional material to all events. So I tote rulers, cover postcards, key chains, candy, and a miniature scene, looking too much like a bag lady to suit PJ, I’m sure, but it’s how I’ve evolved.

A big part of promotion is handling responses to my books, whether in print, online, or in person. The easy part is always thanking those who send good words my way. The hard part is dealing with the negatives.

Over the course of 15 books, I’ve developed a few techniques for dealing with negative reviews or complaints by individuals, justified or not.

For example: I made a huge error in “The Hydrogen Murder.” It was my first book and I was new not only to publishing, but also to California. In the book, my protagonist refers to Cinco de Mayo as Mexican Independence Day. Ay! Ay! I received a nasty email from a college professor in Mexico City – just like a gringo, she said, not to know any holidays but our own. It turns out Mexican Independence Day is in September and May 5 is . . .  I have no idea!

I emailed back, greatly apologetic, and offered to send her a complimentary copy of the next book, which, I promised had no such errors, hoping she’d give me another chance, and so on. Call it groveling, but it worked, in the sense that she wrote back apologizing for being so hard on me and telling me that, other than that gross error, she liked my books and would tell her friends what a good person I was.

It’s a little trickier when these things happen in person and you have a nanosecond to work out a response. In my second miniature mystery, “Mayhem in Miniature,” the setting is an assisted living facility—very upscale, with a theater, a beautifully appointed dining room, and even excellent food.

A woman in the audience at a conference raised her hand and announced that no such place existed. No assisted living facility anywhere was that nice.

I was about to launch into a lengthy explanation about how I’d modeled the home after one I’d visited, where a good friend resided, that I’d had lunch there often, and on and on.

Happily, I was prevented from doing so by a very well-known writer in the front row, a darling of the cozy world, who interrupted me to say “I thought Camille was writing about my mother’s residence. It’s just like that.” Soon others were nodding their heads in agreement and the complainant was silenced.

I confess to being a wimp by nature, so these guidelines work for me: right or wrong, and no matter how much a bad review wounds your ego, it’s unbecoming—and bad for future sales—to defend yourself.

When attacked, let someone else defend you, or spring up and offer a prize!

Camille Minichino is a retired physicist turned writer. Soon, every aspect of her life will be a mystery series.

11 thoughts on “The Defense Rests by Camille Minichino

  1. cminichino says:

    Thanks so much for hosting me today, PJ! I hope to hear your readers stories and get some tips for the defense!

  2. pjnunn says:

    I’m glad to have you here! Thanks for sharing with us!

  3. radine says:

    Hi Camille–Margaret–um—

  4. radine says:

    Gosh, what happened, all of a sudden my beginning of a comment went bye-bye, and there it is, up there. Ah. Well, I was going to say I sure admire those of you who juggle two or more series, and especially you, with different names and identities for each one. I admit to being a special fan of the miniature/dollhouse series. I collect miniature houses, (most 1″ or less) and currently have 120. My first doll house (made of pasteboard during WWII) was burned by my brother who was testing his toy fire engine. I made two houses and furnished them for nieces, and, then (whoooo, miracle) the owner of a bookstore I often speak/sign in gave me one this January. It had been a window decoration during Christmas season, and, when I admired it, she said she’d paid $4.50 for it at a thrift shop and, would I like it after Christmas? WOULD I! This house is an odd small size, and I am having such fun finding or making furnishing for it. Okay, now I’m finished. (One more reason to love bookstore owners!)

  5. Brenda says:

    Most interesting!

    I enjoyed getting to know Prof. Knowles & your other characters in “The Square Root of Murder” and will look forward to reading your other mysteries. How quick thinking and gracious you were! What a great example!

  6. Bryn says:

    I have to say Cinco de Mayo is easily googled and isn’t Mexican Independence Day. I don’t mean any offense but personally I expect an author to have researched for a book and Mexican Independence Day is easily identified. I’m very surprised your editor didn’t catch that one. Additionally, there is a huge variation in assisted living facilities and I personally think there should be some recognition of that. A statement such as This Assisted Living Facility, unlike many others, is a very good one etc. etc. So I don’t think those are actually criticisms, just an expectation of additional research. Readers want to be able to relate to the book.

  7. cminichino says:

    Trying again to comment!

    Radine, I’d love to see a photo of your collection!

    Brenda, I hope you enjoy the next Sophie!

  8. Thanks so much for bringing up this issue. Fortunately, most people are complementary, but when you get that one person who has to point out something negative, it’s difficult to handle when you don’t expect it. I like the way you reacted in both situations. I’ve learned that these folks just want to be heard. Here’s my tip: give a quick and polite response and then move on. It usually defuses the situation. And like the author who came to your defense, there’s usually someone who is willing to stand up for you.

  9. cminichino says:

    Thanks for that support and advice, Kathleen.

    And, Bryn, I agree with you. These days especially, everything is easily researched, but only if you know you need to, and in both cases, I thought I was spot on. Uh-oh, is that a defense?

    • Bryn says:

      Well let me put Cinco de Mayo and Mexican Independence Day in context. If an author in Mexico or Canada said the US Independence Day is Memorial Day, not July 4, people in the US would not be impressed — understatement! So the bottom line is verify that you think you know too because that might be wrong and would be far more helpful to Mexican-US relations:) There are many people who wouldn’t read an author who made that kind of gaffe because they wouldn’t know if anything in his/her books was correct.

  10. cminichino says:

    So, may I offer you a little prize, Bryn?

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