Writing a book is a challenging undertaking. Even more so is the marketing. Fifty thousand new books are published on Amazon each month. So the challenge is to make your book stand out from the crowd… make it appeal to readers. But readers have different tastes and different goals, so the appeal factor is a moving target. That target can be measured somewhat by looking at reviews, but the inconsistencies in reviews leaves me scratching my head.
Reviews are huge to any business. They drive many things, such as, in this case, qualifying for promotions. Obviously, good reviews are preferred over bad, but I do like constructive criticism. After all, the goal is to become more proficient at whatever the task is. And not everyone is going to like everything. That’s why we have vanilla and chocolate… and butter pecan. But the inconsistencies in reviews leave me scratching my head. Here are some examples.
A reader of Dark Alleys wrote: “There is very poor character development and it is hard to feel any empathy for any of the characters.” But another wrote: “In Dark Alleys, Rick juxtaposed plots and well-developed characters make the book a must read!”
I have put a lot of effort into the secondary characters and they have become my friends. A reader posted: “The characters in the books are like good friends and I hope I get to enjoy more time with these.”
A reader of Change of Address wrote: “The character development is also strong in this debut. Spencer alone will bring readers back for the next book. But as regular readers of mystery series know, it is often the secondary characters that keep readers coming back. Here Polad comes through again. The police chief and Spencer’s diner owning friend/first client, and his various friends are all excellent.”
And another: “This novel has a good plot, carefully thought out characters, is well written and keeps you wanting more. I did not want to stop reading.”
About Change of Address, someone posted: “Grammar, punctuation, and spelling are terrible in this book. Otherwise, it’s a nice story! I would not recommend this book.”
I agree about grammar. If the grammar is bad, I won’t read the book. But the following was written about the same book.
“Books that seem to need to be proof read at least one more time drive me batty. All books, even by major authors and published by one of the bit publishers, tend to have one or two grammar or spelling flaws. (Yes, I am what is referred to as a grammar nazi). I found maybe 1 or 2 things in the entire book that I would have taken exception with in this area. That is, the book was unusually clean in this respect.”
Another wrote: “The editing was pretty decent.”
Which is correct? I lean toward the latter two. I also am a “grammar nazi.”
A reader of Missing Boy wrote: “OK book.” Certainly concise.
About Harbor Nights someone posted: “Not poorly written, a bit glib at times. The most interesting thing was the locale and I have even forgotten that.”
Most readers have found the Spencer books engaging. A reader posted this about Dark Alleys: “I’ve never felt compelled to write a review before, but this book had me captivated to the very end. Best mystery I’ve read in ages.”
And another about Harbor Nights: “Rick Polad again proves himself to be a real contender in the murder mystery genre! All of our favorite characters from the first two books return, including Spencer, Stosh and Rosie, and are even more developed in Harbor Nights. Lots of twists and turns will keep your interest till the very end!”
And this: Missing Boy is one of those books that gets my wife upset with me. She doesn’t appreciate it when I get so involved in a book that I tend to ignore her. Spencer Manning falls into a great plot that just keeps you reading. Just when I think I’ve got it figured out there comes another twist and I go back to the guessing game. I really appreciate the complexity of the characters and subtlety of the “cookie crumbs” that are later revealed as significant to the story.”
I have over two hundred great reviews, but I tend to be more affected by the handful of “bad” reviews… by the few comments about poor characters and bad editing. The good thing about Amazon is anyone can publish a book. The bad thing about Amazon is…
The same applies to reviews. Again, constructive criticism is welcomed. But the head scratchers leave me… well, scratching my head. The best example of that was a review of Change of Address. The reviewer wrote that the book was boring and a waste of time. She finished by saying that she doesn’t like mysteries. Huh? That just didn’t seem fair. I wrote to Amazon and asked if they could pull it. They wouldn’t. But at some point, it did disappear. I know the golf gods don’t like me… maybe the book gods do!