Thursday, 30 October 2014

MC Romances, reviews, and a possible re-write...

Yesterday I did something I vowed I would never do again - I let a slightly dodgy review get to me. Thankfully, I didn't see this review until the end of the day so I didn't waste a whole lot of writing time fretting over it, but I did - stupidly - let it bother me for the rest of the evening. 

The review in question was a two-star review on Amazon UK for my MC Romance Revolution. And it hasn't had all that many reviews to begin with - although the two it already has on the UK site have been positive - but it wasn't so much getting the dodgy review itself that bothered me, that's all part and parcel of being a writer. I mean, this reader called Revolution the worst MC book they'd read but I've also had someone over on say it was the best book they'd read in a long time, so there you go. Proof that you can't please everybody. As an author you take the rough with the smooth, develop a thick skin and get on with it. I've been doing this long enough to know that now. You really won't please everyone all of the time and if you do happen to manage that then you're extremely lucky. No, I think what got to me was the fact this reader, to all intents and purposes, called Revolution a Sons of Anarchy rip-off. They didn't use those exact words, but that's what they were trying to say. And I'm not going to deny that, yes, Revolution was heavily inspired by Sons of Anarchy. But it isn't in any way based on that show. Because there is a difference. Yes, there are similarities as far as certain characters are concerned, maybe, but for somebody to say there wasn't an original idea or storyline in the book... that's wrong. That's what upsets me. The story has absolutely nothing to do with SOA, the story is original, but, do you know what? Maybe this kind of review actually does me a favour in the long run. People can read it for themselves, form their own opinions, check out the free sample you can get from Amazon, or read the first two chapters for free here on my blog. And then make a decision as to whether the book is for them or not. Negative reviews can work just as well as the greatest ones in my opinion. They all help to form a reader's opinion. But sometimes you also have to read between the lines of reviews, check out the other kind of books that particular reader likes. And when I did this it would seem that this person prefers a different kind of MC Romance to what Revolution actually is, because I don't think it is a typical MC Romance. 

Which brings me on to the subject of this sub-genre itself. There are so many MC books out there, and from what I can gather they all range from the funny and romantic to the violent and harsh. Some readers have their favourite authors, and a style of MC Romance they like, so no way is every MC Romance going to appeal to every lover of this genre. And Revolution, in my opinion, isn't your average MC Romance. Which, to be honest, may or may not be a bad thing, because your average MC Romance is what appears to be incredibly popular. Revolution isn't just the gritty kind of love story concerning one girl and one boy. I mean, yeah, that's all in there, but it's also the story of the club itself, the people involved with it. And the main characters are all slightly older than those in other MC Romances that I've checked out. Yes, it's gritty, but not as gritty as some of these books. Yes, it's got some hot sex in there, definitely! That's what I do best, after all - write hot sex scenes!! But I don't think it falls anywhere near the category of typical MC Romance. It's very much my own style of writing, because the worst possible thing a writer can do is veer from that and try and be something they're not. I spent way too much time in the early days of my writing career writing what I thought everyone wanted to read, and that was a mistake. It's taken me a lot of years and eleven books to find the route I really want to take  - the edgy, gritty side of romance. A lot of years to finally feel settled and happy with my writing, and I honestly thought I'd left those days of letting bad reviews get to me behind. But do you know why I think this particular review really got to me? Not just because they all but accused me of ripping off Sons of Anarchy, which I haven't. It's because I care a hell of a lot about Revolution. I'm proud of that book.

But I'm not going to lie. Reading that review kind of knocked my confidence somewhat. There are so many great MC books out there, and most of them are getting mainly 4 and 5* reviews so that in itself makes you think your own book just isn't cutting it in this market. But that way of thinking has to go. I'm binning it, right here, right now. Like I said before, I don't think Revolution is your typical MC Romance. It's a bit different, therefore the reaction to it is going to be mixed, of course it is. So, should I not just try and write the kind of MC Romance everyone seems to go for, then? Think I've already mentioned that would be a mistake. No, what I have to do is stick to my guns, believe in a book I'm proud of and let it find its own market. Some people have really loved it, others not so much. And that's fine. What's not fine is somebody all but coming out and saying it's a rip-off of something else. That gets to me. As a writer you take inspiration from so many avenues - from things you read, TV shows or movies you watch, a song you hear. And you take those things and you build your own story around that inspiration. I've written eleven books. I don't need to rip-off anyone else's idea. I have enough of my own...

However, that review also made me think about the next book in The Lone Riders Series - Retribution. I was planning on making it a full-blown prequel to Revolution, covering the eight years or so Lexi had been exiled from the Paradise chapter; her time spent over in England with her father, the President of the Mother Chapter and the son of the man who founded The Lone Riders MC. But now I'm seriously thinking about changing that idea. Is a prequel really a good idea? Are people really interested in reading a story they already know the vague details of, if they've read Revolution? As I've already written almost a quarter of this book, seeing all that work go to waste really is a wrench, but I'm trying to think of the bigger picture here. I want to succeed in this genre, even though I'm an extremely small fish in a huge pond full of established MC authors with a fan base bigger than I could ever dream of. But I'm just starting out in this genre. And I want to continue writing MC books, to get better and progress and maybe, one day, I can be up there with the best of them. Anything's possible, if you believe in yourself, and the books you write. Which I do. Like I said, I'm extremely proud of Revolution. I wrote that book in just six weeks, because the words just wouldn't stop flowing. And that was so exciting. That's what made me want to carry on with these books, to bring The Lone Riders MC back to life by continuing the series, and whilst book 2 will still be released early next year, the form it takes is still undergoing a re-think. It may not be the full-blown prequel I first intended it to be, instead it might be the brand new story it maybe should be, with relevant flashbacks included. I don't know. I haven't had enough reader feedback to help me decide what to do for the best, so I just have to trust my own instincts on this one. But what I do know is that I made the mistake of letting a review get to me yesterday, and that isn't going to happen again. I believe in Revolution. So check out the review for yourself. Read it. Then read the first couple of chapters of the book HERE, or download the free sample from Amazon and see what you think. 

All I know is I'm in love with a different kind of MC Romance. And that's what I'm going to continue to write...


  1. Keep doing what you do Michelle. I love reading your work. You're on of the most talented Indie Authors I've come across for a long time. I know I haven't read Revolution yet but when I do, you can be sure that whatever I think I won't be harsh or make you feel put down in any way. :-) xx