News & Blog

PW Weighs In on Dying Is My Business

When I decided to use this blog to track the journey of Dying Is My Business toward publication for all you budding writers and other interested folks out there, I promised to detail the good and the bad. Today, the developments are on the bad side. Publishers Weekly, one of the book business’s major trade publications, has released the first pre-publication review of the novel, and it isn’t exactly complimentary:

Dying Is My Business
Nicholas Kaufmann. St. Martin’s Griffin, $15.99 trade paper (368p) ISBN 978-1-250-03610-0

Kaufmann’s kickoff to a new urban fantasy series set in New York City aims high but falls short. The man known only as Trent, who had been an ordinary burglar working for a crime boss, is now something very different, having somehow come back from the dead nine times. Sent to Hell’s Kitchen to recover a mysterious box, Trent finds a woman fending off six things with wings that he soon learns are gargoyles, the first of many supernatural beings he encounters. Some of the flatly delivered dialogue is unintentionally humorous (“I don’t know who I am, or what I am. After today, I don’t know what I’m becoming…. All I know is that it could be bad”), and the key story elements—Trent discovering that he has additional powers, the race to ward off an apocalyptic threat—are more familiar than interesting. Agent: Richard Curtis, Richard Curtis Associates. (Oct.)

Now, the last time Publishers Weekly gave me a bad review it was for Chasing the Dragon, which went on to be nominated for two major literary awards and rack up dozens of five-star raves, so I’m not too concerned. Still, a positive review is always more welcome than a negative one, so I’m a little bummed. For whatever reason, PW just doesn’t seem to like my stuff. I have to accept that and not let it trip me up.

And of course I can always console myself with this list of amazing advance blurbs from nine awesome authors!

Having a thick skin is an important part of this crazy business. It’s so easy to be discouraged by any little thing, and a bad review can be doubly discouraging because it can feel like if one reviewer doesn’t like it, nobody will like it. Plus, every writer I know already suffers from the Impostor Syndrome. A bad review can validate that particular neurosis and make an author say to him- or herself, “See? It was only a matter of time before everyone realized I’m a fraud.” But bad reviews are part of the business. All any writer worth his or her salt can do is soldier on. Because if writing is what you want to do, what other choice is there?

2 responses to “PW Weighs In on Dying Is My Business”

  1. Mort Castle says:

    But any PW review is seen by librarians as a “recommendation for purchase.”

    And just the synopsis here, with its allusion to “Trent’s Last Case,” ought to make heap plenty happy the trad mystery crew.

    Good luck, amigo.


    • Nick says:

      Thanks, Mort. I think you’re right about the librarians, and I’m certainly hoping for a crossover with mystery readers (at least, the ones who can handle a little supernatural in their whodunits). I also know that the general readership don’t read PW’s reviews, but still, who doesn’t prefer a positive review to a negative one?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *