Friday, 11 May 2012

One man's meat is another man's poison...

And that idiom certainly applies to books, as I've well and truly found out over this past year as an indie author.  What one person finds interesting and unable to put down, others find boring and unreadable.  And, as I watch the reviews for my latest novel, Bon Voyage, roll in, (okay, trickle in, but it's still early days!) I'm beginning to realise that this can apply to books more than anything.  But the strangest thing with Bon Voyage is - and this may just be completely coincidental, I don't know - is that the slightly negative reviews (all 2 of them - so far!), have come from US readers, whilst all the positive reviews and comments have come from UK readers.  And I have no idea why, apart from the fact that one of the US reviews was left by somebody who only appears to read and review free books, most of which they've given 2 stars to, but I have to thank them (with my tongue very firmly in my cheek) for commenting on the fact that the grammatical errors and typos in Bon Voyage weren't as bad - and I quote here -  "as they usually are in free books".  Well, thanks and all that, but I'd just like to point something out here; it isn't actually a free book, it was on a free promotion for 3 days, and the insinuation that these books are just banged out without a second thought for grammar and spelling is actually quite insulting, be they free books or not.  We indie authors (especially the poverty-stricken ones like me who can't afford editors, etc.) work extremely hard to try and get everything as perfect as it possibly can be and if one or two things are missed, it would actually be more helpful if people pointed them out so that we could then put them right.  But, hey.  Everyone's entitled to their opinon.

A story of boy bands, romance, friendship, & fun!
Anyway, I'm getting off the subject here.  So, I've had positive feedback from the UK, with people telling me they loved the book, would even like a follow-up, and they loved the characters, whilst in the US, well, not quite so positive.  Not damning or anything, just not jumping through hoops with joy.
On the other side of the pond it's been described as "lacking in tension" (it wasn't meant to be a thriller, therefore the tension was always going to be limited, wasn't it?), whilst over here in the UK it's getting praise for the character interactions and the pure escapism it gives.  So, just goes to show, doesn't it?  That what one person loves, another will not rate all that highly at all.  It seems to be a big hit with those people who love/have loved boy bands, though... ;-)

But, is the fact the more negative reviews are coming from the US and the positive ones from the UK relevant in any way?  I doubt it.  One reviewer on said that they were a fan of cruises but found my book "boring", but maybe that's because the cruise in Bon Voyage may just be so unrelated to any cruise they've been on, I don't know.  Maybe the humour wasn't to their taste, they didn't really say.  I really don't know what people are expecting, it's just playing on my mind a bit that British people seem to enjoy the book for what it is - a light, fun romance in the sun - whilst those in the US are finding it, well, less so.  Just a tad confusing.  Because I know people say you should look at negative reviews and take on board what people say, but when you're getting some people loving it and others saying it's "blah!", what can you do?  You  really cannot please everybody. 

However, not for one minute am I saying that everyone who bought or downloaded Bon Voyage in the UK is going to love it, bloody hell, I'd have to be seriously delusional to think that!  So I'm bracing myself for negative reviews to appear from this country too, same as there'll be - hopefully! - some fabulous people over there in the US who will love Bon Voyage, finger's crossed, because I had over 25,000 downloads in America during its free promotion, and I'd hate to think 25,000 negative reviews are going to roll in as the days go on!!!  Anyone from across the pond got anything nice to say about it? ;-)

I just hope that people realise that Bon Voyage isn't going to be a gripping, tension-filled read. It's light-hearted, fun and frothy; a cute little romance story set aboard a no-frills cruise ship as it sails around the Mediterranean carrying it's array of British characters with it - characters that, I swear to God, are based on people I met during my various cruise holidays.  Not all of the characters, obviously, but some of them.  Honest.  I kid you not... Bon Voyage is escapism, pure and simple.  A holiday read, something to keep you company on that sunlounger or take you away from rubbish weather for a little while.  It isn't going to change the world or win awards because I'm not that kind of writer.  I write escapism.  That's what I do.  Check out the 'Look Inside' feature on Amazon, read a little bit of the book, see what you think.  It's what I do before I buy a book, and usually there's enough of the book there to enable you to make an informed decision as to whether it's your kind of thing or not.

Anyway, I'm not complaining about the negative reviews, I'm just trying to point out that the "one man's meat..." idiom is something all us authors should hold onto and remember.  Some people are going to love our books, whilst others, well, won't.  Simple as that.  So, I'll continue to monitor the review situation - without getting obsessed about it, because sometimes you've just got to let things go - and see how they progress.  See what other comments come in because, like I said before, it's early days in this book's release.  There's a long way to go yet.  But, the thing is, I have a particular style of writing, and quite obviously some people are going to like that style, and others won't be fans of it at all.  I mean, I for one have read some books that people have raved about while I, personally, found them dull.  So I can't really complain when others feel the same way about mine, can I? :-)

One man's meat is another man's poison... and never a truer saying was uttered when it comes to the world of books. 

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