I think all newborn baby writers tap away on their first book with the latent idea that their book is for the masses. Everyone will read and enjoy my masterpiece they think.
Other writers know better.
I know better (now).
The truth is that not every book is for every reader. There is no Everyman in the world who will universally love every book ever.
Never was this lesson driven home for me more than over the last week. I found myself, as I usually do around this time of year, wanting to read some good romance novels. This can be tricky for me, because I enjoy specific kinds of romance and Amazon isn’t the greatest place to actually find what you’re looking for in most romance sub-categories.
I love sweet romance, and while I’ll read steamy from certain authors, those have to be highly recommended (so leave me a list in the comments would you, Mama needs some good romances! Still!).
Anyway, I found a handful of new to me authors with books that looked like they might work and I downloaded them to my Kindle.
And I deleted them almost as quickly.
My first reaction was “Those weren’t good books.”
But, I was wrong.
See, the first book was deleted because it was written in first person present. I discarded that one before I was three sentences in. So, I can’t say it was a bad book based on a stylistic choice.
The second one was not a sweet romance and danced over the light steam line with impunity. Again, a stylistic choice, though I wish Amazon would make romance categorization easier/better/whatever.
Those books weren’t bad books, they just weren’t the books for me!
I don;t like first person present. But other people do. They like to write it and they like to read it. I don’t, but that did not make this book a bad book.
I don’t like erotic romance. But, other people do. They like to read it and they like to write it. I don’t, but that did not make this book a bad book.
And that, I think, is an important idea to keep in mind when reading reviews on your own work. The people that didn’t like your book may say that you wrote a bad book. They may offer constructive criticism. But it may be that their dislike should only be read as “this wasn’t the book for them.”
For the record, I didn’t review either book. Nobody deserves a bad review based on stylistic choices in my opinion. And I did find a great book that fit the bill, so that was a good thing as well.
But all of this was a great lesson for me. Readers are allowed to like what they like and they don’t have to justify that.