One of the more agonizing things about being a writer is waiting around to see how the readers respond to your book. Most of us tend to write in a vacuum. We become so immersed in a story that we really can't judge it. When we get to that point mostly we think it sucks but that's a whole other issue. If there is a problem with it our editors will most assuredly inform us and we do whatever we can to take care of it before it goes to print.
While writing FALLEN, which I wrote during a very difficult time, mostly in hospital waiting rooms waiting to hear if my dad was going to survive his latest medical disaster from his bout with lymphoma, I realized that it wasn't truly a romance. It was more about the journey of Captain John Murray, and how he came to realize that there were things more important in life that what others thought of him. I laughingly called it the book of mistakes with my editor. People in the story made mistakes, including John and Izzy, and it greatly affected their lives. My editor laughed and said "Lets not say that a lot or people might think the books a mistake."
Well guess what, another mistake was made. When discussing FALLEN with my editor we both agreed that it wasn't a romance and should be categorized as historical fiction. I used great detail in including an actual battle that occurred during the Revolutionary War. We sent it to Romantic Times Book Reviews and asked it to be featured under the Historical Fiction category. Our main reason for doing this is because the hero, John, and the heroine, Izzy,are separated for eight years which makes it hard for romance to bloom.
Imagine my shock when my RT arrived on Christmas Eve. I looked up my review. I couldn't find it. Finally I did. In historical Romance. It got three stars. Why did it only receive three stars our of a possible four and a half? Because the hero and heroine are separated for too long to make it a romance.
Head meet desk.
Why did you not review it as a historical fiction as we requested? This is not my first time having problems with RT and the way they review things. I have gotten all kinds of rankings from them. From 2 up to 4 1/2. However the low rankings I've gotten have come from complaints that I write a series and the reviewers didn't know what was going on because they didn't read the previous books. Hello! If your reviewing a series shouldn't the reviewer read the entire series, for instance, you reviewed the first book, here's the next and so on? I mean it only makes sense. And yes I have mentioned it to the reviewing staff.
Actually I can't complain too much because the review is really quite good. Its just frustrating because there are so many things that are out of our control as a writer and I was just trying to make sure this book got the best chance it could when it was turned loose in the world.
Here's the review from February's RT with a three star mild rating. It's done by Maria Ferrer. And Maria, I know its not your fault. You were given the book to review as a historical romance and I really think you did a great job on summing up its strengths and weaknesses.
From the lochs of Scotland to the shores of America comes a gentle romance about two lonely hearts who find each other only to be torn apart by betrayal. Holby's sweet tale is set in the midst of the harsh realities of war, but the lovers are separated for too long before they find forgiveness and redemption.
SUMMARY Against all odds, British Captain John Murray falls in love with Scottish lass Isobel Ferguson. But there's not much hope for a union between a Sassenach and a Scot. When her brothers try to break their father out of jail it leads to deadly consequences for all. John loses his position and is transferred to the colonies, and Isobel and her family are deported and sold as indentured servants in VA. It will be years before the lovers find each other again, in another war-torn country, and rekindle their love.
So what do you think? Do you rely on reviews to pick your reads? How do you decide what book to pick up or which new author to try?