October 29, 2011

A tale of two reviews

My newest eBook, A Kiss of a Different Color, received two reviews this week, one on the Barnes & Noble site, one on the Amazon site.

The Nook reader entitled her review "Wonderful" and gave it 5 stars. The Kindle reader entitled her review "DNF" (I don't know what that means, but since she gave it just 1 star, it can't be anything good--my guess is "did not finish?").

It just goes to show, two people are not going to get the same thing out of the same story. The Nook reader said it was a "really good story." The Kindle reader said she "just could not continue" beyond the first third of the story. The Nook reader said she really liked the way I showed how the main characters got through the racial issues and work issues and enjoyed a "very passionate romance." The Kindle reader said that while racial references are fine, it became too much, and that the main characters "lacked chemistry."

I find the differing opinions fascinating. One says the hero and heroine were passionate, the other says they lacked chemistry. Wow. Can two interpretations possibly be any different? But I have always maintained that people will get different things out of a story, and this is a perfect demonstration of that.

The Kindle reader states that by a third of the way through the story the main characters should at least have some kind of dating relationship established. I believe I'd established pretty well why the heroine was skittish about that (I even mention it in the summary), but I have to consider that this may be part of the problem. Romances usually are written according to a formula, but since I'm publishing my own work and don't have to answer to a publisher, I let the story unfold naturally with the characters acting within the personalities I created for them. But the bottom line is that the Kindle reader (who has written a favorable review of at least one of my other titles), simply didn't like this book. And that's just the way it goes sometimes.

Every writer hopes that readers will like their book, but I think most writers know that it's not possible to please everyone. The writer who expects universal praise of their book is a first cousin of the attorney who represents himself in court (and you know what they say about him). Who among us hasn't looked forward to a book, only to find ourselves totally indifferent to and/or unmoved by the storyline? (This is one reason why the reader in me doesn't find novel sequels particularly appealing. Like movie sequels--the one exception that comes to mind being The Godfather, Part II--I usually don't feel the sequel is as good as the original.) Why should I expect a book I've written be idolized? Because I wrote it? That takes an imperialistic outlook I just don't have (thank God).

Yes, myself and other authors put our blood and sweat into creating characters and storylines we hope will be memorable. But that's no guarantee that readers will gobble up the words we've written and want seconds. We're asking readers invest their time and money in our work. Some readers will wish they hadn't made the investment. It's not someone out to "get" me. It's not a case of the person writing the review being somehow jealous of me. There's no vendetta involved, only an honest reader opinion. And while it is one person's opinion (a very frequently heard author refrain used to dismiss negative reviews), so are the positive reviews we receive. The fact is that majority of people who read our books are not going to take the time to write a review, whether they loved it or hated it.

What it really is? A crapshoot, just like most other factors about publishing. We as authors have to get over it.

Now, back to my work-in-progress. I'm loving this story...