PDA

View Full Version : Should I Warn Potential Readers About My Book



Pearl
10-07-2012, 06:01 AM
I just got my first bad review, a 2 star one. When I read the review, I wasn't shocked or confused over why the reader didn't like my book. She likes paranormal romances, and mine is far from being a romance. My book is a love-gone-bad with the vampire as the villain. Yes, I am aware that type is not very popular now, but my main concern is those who like romance vampire books would buy and read my book, and get shocked and disappointed. I see those who have put my book on their "to-read" list on Goodreads, and I really fear they won't like it.

Here is my blurb:

If you had the perfect boyfriend who suddenly reveals he's a vampire, and also wants to make you one or else...what would you do?

That is the dilemma college graduate Claire McCormick faces. Her life is brightened up by Daniel Bertrand in a whirlwind romance, who only turns out to be a bloodthirsty vampire. He also won't take no for an answer when he proposes for Claire to join him for eternity. She faces becoming evil herself or have evil done to her and her loved ones. The Dark Proposal explores Claire's nightmare and fears while she makes her decision. Along the way, she learns why exactly Daniel wants her to be vampire.

WARNING: contains graphic content and strong language

I thought I made it clear that my book is not lovey dovey with a female character saving the man who is either tortured or the alpha male, as popular these days. Maybe I really didn't?

I don't want to think I made a mistake releasing this type of book. It was something I had in mind and I thought the market was ripe for the evil vampire after so many loving, sensitive vampire books saturating the market. Maybe I was wrong? I also don't see how any vampire could be sweet and loving when their true nature is to kill. That's how I see them.

How can I really warn any potential reader about what my book is really about? I don't want them to believe they might've been misled, even though no one has said so yet.

thothguard51
10-07-2012, 06:13 AM
No. Your book blurb should be enough to give a reader/customer an idea on what your book is about.

Amadan
10-07-2012, 06:17 AM
You can't. People will read your book expecting it to be something else, and they'll give it bad reviews because it wasn't what they were expecting. Trying to "warn" people so only the "right" readers will read it is not going to work. Just make your description as clear as possible.

Incidentally, that description would make me think it's a paranormal romance too. Sure, you mention Daniel being "evil," but that reads as code for "tortured, brooding bad boy." You still talk about a "whirlwind romance" and imply that the book will focus on why Daniel is the way he is (i.e., making him sympathetic). It doesn't make me think it is like Dracula (in which Dracula is a Victorian-coded sexual threat, but at no point is it implied that he's sexy or romantic or that him getting together with Mina would be a happy ending, even if many of the film adaptations have portrayed it that way).

Pearl
10-07-2012, 06:24 AM
Incidentally, that description would make me think it's a paranormal romance too. Sure, you mention Daniel being "evil," but that reads as code for "tortured, brooding bad boy." You still talk about a "whirlwind romance" and imply that the book will focus on why Daniel is the way he is (i.e., making him sympathetic). It doesn't make me think it is like Dracula (in which Dracula is a Victorian-coded sexual threat, but at no point is it implied that he's sexy or romantic or that him getting together with Mina would be a happy ending, even if many of the film adaptations have portrayed it that way).

I do think I should change the words to my blurb in order to make it clear on what my book is about. I thought the words "evil" and "nightmare" would be enough, and I didn't think they would be misinterpreted. Maybe I should drop the words "whirlwind romance" or put in something like "love goes wrong" or along those lines?

Thanks for the advice!

Kerosene
10-07-2012, 06:27 AM
You did include "Romance" in the title that sparks the idea in the reader. "Love goes wrong" might be a little too strong, brainstorm for a while, you'll come up with something.

However, (I think I have the correct review), I don't see how they expected romance, when they simply didn't like the elements of the story.

If I have the wrong review, correct me. But I just think you're overreacting. Some readers are touchy and sensitive, and one bad apple doesn't spoil the bunch.

And no, I will not link to the review for sensitivity sake. It's on goodreads.

Pearl
10-07-2012, 06:31 AM
You did include "Romance" in the title that sparks the idea in the reader. "Love goes wrong" might be a little too strong, brainstorm for a while, you'll come up with something.

However, (I think I have the correct review), I don't see how they expected romance, when they simply didn't like the elements of the story.

If I have the wrong review, correct me. But I just think you're overreacting. Some readers are touchy and sensitive, and one bad apple doesn't spoil the bunch.

And no, I will not link to the review for sensitivity sake. It's on goodreads.

I might be overreacting, but when I saw what those who marked my book as "to-read" like to read, I got a little concerned.

I'll do some brainstorming and try come up with something.

Amadan
10-07-2012, 06:32 AM
You did include "Romance" in the title that sparks the idea in the reader. "Love goes wrong" might be a little too strong, brainstorm for a while, you'll come up with something.

However, (I think I have the correct review), I don't see how they expected romance, when they simply didn't like the elements of the story.

If I have the wrong review, correct me. But I just think you're overreacting. Some readers are touchy and sensitive, and one bad apple doesn't spoil the bunch.

And no, I will not link to the review for sensitivity sake. It's on goodreads.


Uh, yeah. That reviewer didn't like your story. Maybe she was expecting it to be a fluffy smexxy romance, maybe not, but you can't somehow warn away readers who will give you bad reviews.

Pearl
10-07-2012, 06:35 AM
I hope I'm not coming across as someone who thinks everyone would like my book. I believe I am aware not everyone will like it. I think I am just wondering if I didn't market my book well.

Maybe I am overreacting and being overly concerned. Yeah, I tend to do that sometimes. I feel kind of silly right now.

Kerosene
10-07-2012, 06:56 AM
I might be overreacting, but when I saw what those who marked my book as "to-read" like to read, I got a little concerned.

I'll do some brainstorming and try come up with something.

Take a deep breath, exhale.

Some people use the "to-read" section and piles in books that they might or might not read. They'll come back to your book and question if they wish to read it. Depending on what they see, they'll decide from there. It's not a definitive "yes", but more like a maybe.

So to that, yes, a clear blurb will help.

But it doesn't mean that they will absolutely hate it. From your other reviews I've read, the readers enjoy your story.

You need to expect bad ones, but don't dwell within them. At least the review wasn't entirely constructive, just "I don't like this" -- which sounds like they expected something else.


Uh, yeah. That reviewer didn't like your story. Maybe she was expecting it to be a fluffy smexxy romance, maybe not, but you can't somehow warn away readers who will give you bad reviews.

I think that one just didn't read the blurb at all.

Maybe they rushed in for the cover. :tongue It is a nice cover, btw.

Pearl
10-07-2012, 07:01 AM
Take a deep breath, exhale.

Some people use the "to-read" section and piles in books that they might or might not read. They'll come back to your book and question if they wish to read it. Depending on what they see, they'll decide from there. It's not a definitive "yes", but more like a maybe.

So to that, yes, a clear blurb will help.

But it doesn't mean that they will absolutely hate it. From your other reviews I've read, the readers enjoy your story.

You need to expect bad ones, but don't dwell within them. At least the review wasn't entirely constructive, just "I don't like this" -- which sounds like they expected something else.


Yeah, I admit I overreacted to this, and I'm feeling embarrassed right now. Gosh, this is really awkward.




Maybe they rushed in for the cover. :tongue It is a nice cover, btw.

Thank you! :)

merrihiatt
10-07-2012, 07:38 AM
Reading reviews can be a double-edged sword. It's a rush to read a good review and it's a knife in your gut when you read a poor one. Best advice I've seen around AW is not to read them. I tend to check in on reviews about once a month, just to see what people thought of my books. It's so easy to get sucked into writing for an audience. I have to watch that. Whenever I end up doing that, the book suffers immensely.

Filigree
10-07-2012, 08:09 AM
Same here. Good reviews help, constructive reviews are golden, but 'I didn't like this' reviews don't serve any purpose for the writer. You can't be everything to everyone.

Just keep writing!

leahzero
10-07-2012, 07:45 PM
Pearl, I do think your blurb may confuse PNR impulse buyers. Even after giving it a close read, it's giving me the impression that your novel is PNR. Less focus on the romance and more focus on the conflict would help clear that up.

Emmet Cameron
10-07-2012, 08:53 PM
Sounds like a case of Worst Yellow Square Ever (http://www.goodreads.com/author_blog_posts/2881932-advice-to-new-writers-green-triangles-should-be-both-triangular-and-gre?auto_login_attempted=true).

i.e. - You're being criticized for failing at something you weren't even trying to do.

i.e. - It's one bad review and it's basically the reviewer getting pouty 'cause they want everything to be the thing they like and have become accustomed to seeing.

i.e. - You really don't need to apologise for writing your own book.

veinglory
10-07-2012, 09:12 PM
That blurb and cover could be a romance. (e.g. the reason she has to be a vampire could be that they are mystical soul mates). Only the fact it is not electronically shelved as romance rules it out and many people would not notice that. IMHO the blurb could position the vampire as a villain a tad more. Stalker villains and stalker heroes are not that far apart, sadly.

Pearl
10-07-2012, 10:04 PM
Thanks leahzero and veinglory for your inputs. I am concerned that the blurb will seem misleading to some potential readers. Perhaps I should leave out the entire part where Claire meets Daniel? Forget about the romance, dating and "brightened up" part. Should I just get right to the part about how she faces evil and everything else?

frimble3
10-07-2012, 10:57 PM
Incidentally, that description would make me think it's a paranormal romance too. Sure, you mention Daniel being "evil," but that reads as code for "tortured, brooding bad boy." You still talk about a "whirlwind romance" and imply that the book will focus on why Daniel is the way he is (i.e., making him sympathetic). It doesn't make me think it is like Dracula (in which Dracula is a Victorian-coded sexual threat, but at no point is it implied that he's sexy or romantic or that him getting together with Mina would be a happy ending, even if many of the film adaptations have portrayed it that way).


That blurb and cover could be a romance. (e.g. the reason she has to be a vampire could be that they are mystical soul mates). Only the fact it is not electronically shelved as romance rules it out and many people would not notice that. IMHO the blurb could position the vampire as a villain a tad more. Stalker villains and stalker heroes are not that far apart, sadly.

Yeah, 'perfect boyfriend' and 'whirlwind romance' with a vampire does suggest PNR, in my mind, at least. "He also won't take no for an answer when he proposes for Claire to join him for eternity" is pretty standard stalkery boyfriend crap.
As Amadan said upthread, talking about his 'reasons' makes it seem as though once we know his reasons we might be okay with his behaviour.

On the other hand, it's only one review.

Pearl
10-07-2012, 11:18 PM
True, its only one, but just to be careful - and since so many here are pointing out my blurb's flaws - I've rewritten it a bit. Here goes:

If your boyfriend suddenly reveals he's a vampire, and also wants to make you one or else...what would you do?

That is the dilemma college graduate Claire McCormick faces. Her life is turned upside down when her boyfriend Daniel Bertrand reveals that he is a bloodthirsty vampire. He also won't take no for an answer when he tells Claire he wants her to be his companion. She faces becoming an evil being herself or have her and her loved ones suffer from her refusal. The Dark Proposal explores Claire's nightmare and fears while she makes her decision. Along the way, she learns the sinister reason why exactly Daniel wants her to be vampire.

Let me know if this works better.

veinglory
10-07-2012, 11:32 PM
It does look like most of your customers figure it out, so maybe wait and see if it happens again?

Amadan
10-07-2012, 11:39 PM
True, its only one, but just to be careful - and since so many here are pointing out my blurb's flaws - I've rewritten it a bit. Here goes:

If your boyfriend suddenly reveals he's a vampire, and also wants to make you one or else...what would you do?

That is the dilemma college graduate Claire McCormick faces. Her life is turned upside down when her boyfriend Daniel Bertrand reveals that he is a bloodthirsty vampire. He also won't take no for an answer when he tells Claire he wants her to be his companion. She faces becoming an evil being herself or have her and her loved ones suffer from her refusal. The Dark Proposal explores Claire's nightmare and fears while she makes her decision. Along the way, she learns the sinister reason why exactly Daniel wants her to be vampire.

Let me know if this works better.


Nope. Still reads "Stalkery bad boy vampires are soooo sexy!" to me.

Really, just let it go. Stop obsessing over one bad review. I mean, you also have a 4-star review, so evidently that reader didn't feel misled by your blurb.

Pearl
10-07-2012, 11:48 PM
OK, I'll stop.

I'm really not obsessing over one review. I'm not losing sleep over it, I just tend to over analyze things to death. This is my first book and I want everything to go right with it, right down to the blurb.

But I'll let it go now.

Polenth
10-08-2012, 03:03 AM
Your first line isn't doing you any favours, as it's a standard paranormal romance question. Do you want to become a vampire when you might lose control and kill someone? Sure you do, because you'll be the super special snowflake who doesn't lose control and it's all rainbows and kittens.

A more horrific hook might be something like: Claire thinks Daniel is the perfect boyfriend, until she discovers he tortures and kills women in his basement. You can word it better than that, but I think you need to hit people with some horror from the first line.

However, don't rush into changing it. You need to take some time over a new blurb, run it through the query SYW forum (tell people it's a book blurb and what you're aiming for) and so forth. I think you should consider a change, but a knee-jerk reaction won't help anything.

bearilou
10-08-2012, 04:45 AM
Sounds like a case of Worst Yellow Square Ever (http://www.goodreads.com/author_blog_posts/2881932-advice-to-new-writers-green-triangles-should-be-both-triangular-and-gre?auto_login_attempted=true).

i.e. - You're being criticized for failing at something you weren't even trying to do.

i.e. - It's one bad review and it's basically the reviewer getting pouty 'cause they want everything to be the thing they like and have become accustomed to seeing.

i.e. - You really don't need to apologise for writing your own book.

That was a great blog post and hit it square on.

HAAAAA...square...yellow...

...guess you have to read the blog post to get it. :/

GiantRampagingPencil
10-08-2012, 06:31 AM
Your first line isn't doing you any favours, as it's a standard paranormal romance question. Do you want to become a vampire when you might lose control and kill someone? Sure you do, because you'll be the super special snowflake who doesn't lose control and it's all rainbows and kittens.

A more horrific hook might be something like: Claire thinks Daniel is the perfect boyfriend, until she discovers he tortures and kills women in his basement. You can word it better than that, but I think you need to hit people with some horror from the first line.

However, don't rush into changing it. You need to take some time over a new blurb, run it through the query SYW forum (tell people it's a book blurb and what you're aiming for) and so forth. I think you should consider a change, but a knee-jerk reaction won't help anything.

Excellent advice IMHO. And I hate all reviews that criticize a work for not being something it is not trying to be--or the reverse, for that matter.

Pearl
10-08-2012, 06:33 AM
Heads up - I started a thread in SYW about making a new blurb. Its under the Other Works subforum.

veinglory
10-08-2012, 06:35 AM
Excellent advice IMHO. And I hate all reviews that criticize a work for not being something it is not trying to be--or the reverse, for that matter.

It depends on whether it would be easy to misunderstand. The reader sees the cover and blurb, not the inside of the author's mind.

Old Hack
10-08-2012, 10:27 AM
I'm going to move this to Self Publishing, as it's not a promotional issue; and I urge anyone who wants to help the OP rewrite her blurb to visit her new thread in SYW.

And I agree with the general consensus: you can't please everyone, some people are bound to not like all of our books (more fool them!), and I suspect the person who left the negative review prefers books in a whole other category. It's no big deal.

tlsclarke
10-11-2012, 08:41 PM
I had a similar problem and decided to put a warning at the base of the book description. I even changed the genre to horror, which I subsequently have discovered can be termed 'Dark Fantasy'.

Unfortunately it is impossible to know what will offend some readers. A single swear word, even used in context and in character, is enough to put a reader off the book. Some sensibilities will be shaken with things you would see in the average movie or television show.

Don't worry about reviews too much. Good or bad, they seldom help.

Just keep writing. Express yourself without limits and fear. Your fans will come. They will like your work and expect more of what you've got. There will always be those who will say:

"Hey this burger has meat in it." :|

RemiJ
10-11-2012, 09:13 PM
I read the review in question. It's not a review that I would take into consideration as someone looking for a new book to read.

Her detesting Daniel shows that you did a good job in presenting him as an unlikable character. Her reaction to the quick sex suggests that she is morally against that sort of wanton behavior. That's a silly point. Most of the books I read have characters doing things that I wouldn't necessarily do in my day to day life.

I'm sure that most people that read that review would come to the same conclusion. The conclusion being the reader doesn't understand how to write a critique.

veinglory
10-11-2012, 09:15 PM
I don't think it is the readers job to writing a critique, just a report of their consumer experience.

RemiJ
10-11-2012, 09:18 PM
I don't think it is the readers job to writing a critique, just a report of their consumer experience.

I see your point but as a reader looking for a new book I don't take those reviews seriously.

Pearl
10-12-2012, 03:18 AM
I'm honestly not too upset with her review. It stung a bit because it was my first bad review. But now, I hardly even think about it.

If anyone is curious about my blurb, I have a thread in SYW under Other SYW. There I have rewritten my blurb. Feel free to comment.

Pearl
10-12-2012, 03:23 AM
I had a similar problem and decided to put a warning at the base of the book description. I even changed the genre to horror, which I subsequently have discovered can be termed 'Dark Fantasy'.

Unfortunately it is impossible to know what will offend some readers. A single swear word, even used in context and in character, is enough to put a reader off the book. Some sensibilities will be shaken with things you would see in the average movie or television show.

Don't worry about reviews too much. Good or bad, they seldom help.

Just keep writing. Express yourself without limits and fear. Your fans will come. They will like your work and expect more of what you've got. There will always be those who will say:

"Hey this burger has meat in it." :|

Thanks, and I liked the last line. Very true!

AgathaChristieFan
10-25-2012, 10:41 PM
Hey Pearl,
I want to read your book just because it's not the typical lovey-dovey vampire book. What someone doesn't like could be the reason someone wants to purchase the book :)

Keep smiling,
Yawatta

elindsen
10-25-2012, 11:17 PM
I wouldn't worry about it. I understood your blurb and thought it may not end well, at least in the prospect of love stories.

adrianstaccato
10-26-2012, 06:31 AM
Pearl, I understand your frustration. I recently started publishing, and my first book features a five chapter preview on Amazon, as well as a pretty substantial blurb that provides an accurate description of the story and the characters. Yet, despite all this, I still get comments from readers stating "the story was not for me". Sometimes I feel like grabbing these people and screaming "WHY DID YOU BUY IT THEN?" Honestly, if the blurb doesn't appeal to you, and the preview doesn't help, then why buy the book?

One reviewer even complained that she didn't like the book because the characters were "Infidels". LOL. I literally laughed out loud when I read that. My book is not religious reading material, and I have no idea what gave her that impression.

annetpfeffer
10-28-2012, 01:02 AM
Pearl: I had the same experience you had, except it concerned the title of my book. I originally called my book Loving Emily, which was an old working title that made sense at the time I coined it, but no longer applied as well after two years of rewrites. The title Loving Emily implied a romance, when in fact the book had morphed into more of a coming of age story about a sixteen year old boy.

So I took a deep breath and changed the title to Any Other Night and changed the cover and book description as well, and I'm really happy I did so. Readers will absolutely complain if a book turns out not to be what they expected. My reviews have been consistently better since I changed the title.

By the way, I also added a warning that my book contained profanity and nonexplicit sexual scenes, which means I no longer get complaints from those readers who turn to YA for squeaky clean entertainment. Again, just a matter of letting readers know up front what they're getting.

I wouldn't freak out over one reader comment. But if you see a pattern over a number of reviews, that's different. Definitely, experiment with your book description, so that you're sure it accurately describes the book. But just know you'll always have a few bad reviews. Everyone gets them.

Good luck!

Old Hack
10-28-2012, 10:16 AM
That seems to me to be a dangerous strategy, Anne. If you have some readers who bought and enjoyed Loving Emily (and according to your diary thread about it, you had plenty), what happens if they go out and buy Any Other Night based on their knowing your name and enjoying your "other" book? How have you dealt with that possibility, and what do you do to try to help your readers avoid such a situation?

Keyan
10-28-2012, 02:31 PM
Nope. Still reads "Stalkery bad boy vampires are soooo sexy!" to me.

Really, just let it go. Stop obsessing over one bad review. I mean, you also have a 4-star review, so evidently that reader didn't feel misled by your blurb.

I don't know. I think this is better; the first one did lead me to expect a romance with a Happily Ever After.

I think telegraphing the ending might help. "Can Claire escape this dreadful fate?" or something like that.

I think the job of a blurb is to set reader expectations. If they expect Twilight and get Stephen King, (or vice versa) they may leave bad reviews.

annetpfeffer
10-28-2012, 08:09 PM
That seems to me to be a dangerous strategy, Anne. If you have some readers who bought and enjoyed Loving Emily (and according to your diary thread about it, you had plenty), what happens if they go out and buy Any Other Night based on their knowing your name and enjoying your "other" book? How have you dealt with that possibility, and what do you do to try to help your readers avoid such a situation?


In my goodreads and amazon description of Any Other Night, I stated explicitly that the book had been previously published under the title Loving Emily and was now being re-issued as Any Other Night, with the content unchanged.

I also left up the listings for Loving Emily in amazon and goodreads, with a statement that the title had changed and that for more information, or to purchase the book, they should refer to the listing for Any Other Night.

I also blogged about it and sent notifications to key bloggers who had reviewed my book, who posted announcements of the title change.

No reader has ever notified me of any confusion or problems in the five months since I did this. If the scenario you suggest had happened, which it didn't, I would have refunded the buyer's money.

I agree something like this could go badly if you mishandled it. But if you are careful to make all the disclosures, it can go well. Readers are smart and reasonable, and in this case, they were fully informed. I had nothing but good consequences from doing this.

Joemassaro
10-30-2012, 08:43 PM
I think that you have to be as clear as you possibly can. You will always have readers who will expect something other than what you are telling them is in the book. As long as you don't deliberately misrepresent your book (and there are a lot of reasons an author might be tempted to do so), I think that is the best you can do. I've read some books that are not what the author actually wrote in their description. There may have been a temptation to spin the book as being, say paranormal romance (which is very popular) when it is fact a paranormal horror (which may not be as popular) with just the barest hint of romance. Obviously the two are not the same and a reader coming into it expecting one and getting the other would be, to put it mildly, disappointed. I don't think most authors do this. It's a good way to alienate your readers.
Joe