Authors have feelings too — Breaking outside the romance box #reviews

depressed woman facial close upOriginally this story was published with Silver. A lot of you know the issues that publisher had, and the whole experience put me off writing any more. So when Dreamspinner wanted to republish this, I was thrilled, and did rework and expand the story.

So I was really excited to see the first review posted for Shifting Gears was 4.5 stars at MM Good Books. I couldn’t believe it. It’s wonderful when the reader gets why I did certain things in a story.

But that sense of well-being soon got shattered with a 2-star review that another review site posted. Yes, I’ll admit it hurt my feelings.

To be honest, I just don’t understand quite how two readers had such different experiences with my book. One reviewer loved the characters the other didn’t. One thought the writing was “wonderful” the other said it was “okay.”

Amazon readers seem to like it. Goodreads readers don’t. It makes my head spin!

I know it takes some getting used to what reviewers are going to say, and with just one book out, I don’t have a track record or group of avid followers. I hope it gets easier.

ShiftingGearsLGWithout spoiling anything, I tried something a little unconventional in this story and something I hadn’t seen elsewhere (in part regarding one MC’s relationship with another man before he starts up with the other MC). I can see it hasn’t gone over well, no matter how it was intended. I discussed this with my editor and betas and felt it worked here, but it hasn’t.

Quite honestly, I’m not sure if it was my writing or just that some readers don’t like things outside of the normal romance structure. Should I just stick to the safe stuff? The fun for me in writing is breaking outside the box in terms of sex an romance, yet still bringing the two main characters together in a satisfying and emotional romantic conclusion. But maybe trying something unconventional is not a good idea if I want to sell books and get new fans.

As readers, do you prefer that the romance and relationship follows the normal patterns?

2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. andrewqgordon
    Dec 06, 2014 @ 12:02:50


    Reviews are written as much for the reader as the author. There is a very overused maxim that if you feel your book is getting trashed, go find your favorite book and look on GRs for all the 1 star reviews. I’ll confess that doesn’t help me much, but it does illustrate that even the best received books get bad review. You can’t write a book that everyone will love, it’s impossible.

    The problem you raise – do I write what I want or do I write to a formula to try and sell more books – is a tough one. It goes back to why you write. If it’s to make a living, then you have your answer. If it’s to share your work with people who will like it, and sales aren’t as important, then write what you like, accept the good reviews and try to make long term fans out of those people. You never know, you might become a best seller because you hit on something that becomes the next big thing – think 50 Shades of Gray, Twilight, HP etc. When they came out, no one was doing those things but those authors wrote those books anyway.

    Hang in there. The fact Dreamspinner thought it was worth investing in should tell you that at the least people whose job it is to make money publishing books felt it was good enough to publish. That’s worth something.


    • Petra Lynn
      Dec 07, 2014 @ 15:18:08

      Thanks for the kind and wise words.
      I think your approach is correct and I need to decide what I wan to accomplish. It’s tough to see big review sites give nasty reviews. It seems to me that they should show some restraint and give facts without the snarky editorials. I have definitely seen sales fall after the review at Hearts on Fire.

      You’re also spot-on about Dreamspinner. They wouldn’t take this if they thought it wouldn’t sell. But, that particular review did just about stop sales. The crazy thing is that I reworked some of the story for the re-release and thought it was better, but it’s getting worse ratings than the original.

      I’m officially confused now!


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