During the month of April, my book The Thorn went on a virtual book tour. After a month full of reviews, thirty of them to be exact, I am pleased to report that the book received mostly complimentary reviews. I learned a lot about my writing and about books in general by reading them. I come away from this experience with the following insights:
1. There is no such thing as a fiction book written for everybody. Quite a few of the bloggers took advantage of posting their reviews on Amazon or Goodreads. I had some 5-star ratings, but I also had some 1-star ratings. As far as I can tell, Romance readers (or those who prefer a more character driven story where the setting doesn’t matter much) did not like the book as well as those who prefer Sci-Fi/Fantasy/Speculative works. I think my characters do drive the story along, but not as much as some other genres.
2. Publicized genre has a great deal to do with reader expectations. I had a few reviews where certain elements of the story were judged against Fantasy, or to be more specific by sub-genre, Epic Fantasy. The genre “Speculative Fiction” still seems to be a little misunderstood in the market. Here is why I consider my book to be Religious Speculative Fiction: An underlying religious theme is present, but not overwhelming. Although similar to Fantasy in some respects, it has no myth and no magic. Although similar to Sci-Fi in some respects because the story takes place on another planet with two suns and three moons, it does not have the technology or futuristic setting of most Science Fiction. My conclusion: I will have to do a better job in the future making sure that my readers understand where The Thorn lies as far as genre classification.
3. The cover of a book also has a lot to do with those first impressions and genre expectations. Although I was pleased with the book cover when I first saw it, and I still think the cover will do well for attracting a YA audience, it may not actually fit the genre Religious Speculative Fiction very well. Some readers hated the cover. Too many of the readers expected the book to be YA Fantasy because of the scene pictured. And the book isn’t Fantasy. Even the glow-stones in the book have a scientific explanation. False expectations adversely affect the reading experience.
4. The book may end up appealing more to guys than to girls. I was pleasantly surprised that so many women did like the book. Some of them raved about it. But each of my current 1-star ratings came from a female reader. It may be too early to tell if my impression here is merely an over-generalization on my part.
5. The Chronicles of Gan series is only going to get better. Although I didn’t agree with every point made by the less-favorable reviews, I do plan on making one significant improvement: Heaven’s Garden (book two) is going to have more character development. There were so many characters introduced in book one that it was hard for some readers to identify with them. And some readers didn’t like the fact that there were so many POVs in The Thorn. If I haven’t missed counting one, there are ten characters used for point-of-view. I counted them all (even the first soldier who dies and is only on the scene for a couple of paragraphs). AH! The introductory page! Make that eleven. Dear POV punished reader: I promise to at least cut that down to half. Maybe even to just four.
In conclusion, I want to thank every single reader who took the time to read the book and post a review. Your insights were most helpful. If you haven’t put your rating out on Amazon or Goodreads, please be sure to do that!
I also wanted to mention that I’ve been collecting snippets of my favorite reviews all month long, and now I would like to share them. Please take a moment and visit my “Reviews” page by clicking on the menu bar of my website, or by going here: REVIEWS
Don’t forget to come back here and let me know what you think!