I was asked recently by a fan how I felt about the negative reviews for Stranger Delight.
To be honest, while all negativity can hurt sometimes, I feel for the most part that people are allowed to express their opinions and that if they didn’t like something they should have a chance to express it.
Art is subjective. What one person likes, another doesn’t. It’s perfectly natural and should be encouraged – it would be a boring world if everyone all liked the same things.
When you make something free (which I’ve done with Stranger) then it seems that you get more negative reviews that usual. It’s because people who are not your target audience will read your book and hate it. They grab if because it’s free hoping that finally they’ll find that one gem that was written just for them. Often though, they are disappointed.
I understand that.
But it’s also a good way to find those that ARE your target audience. And Stranger Delight, as battle wounded as she is, has actually found me a bigger audience that I might have found otherwise.
A good author can also learn from reviews about what customers like and don’t. For example:
Sometimes my short stories get complaints that they are short (which I actually find amusing because they are, well, short stories). I actually take that as a positive message though. People wanted to read more.
I’m about 25% through the first draft. And I’m loving every minute of it. It’s a zombie horror novel – but not an apocalyptic type saga (which I feel has been done), but rather just one zombie – and a scary clever one at that.
Other reviews mention that Stranger Delight is predictable. That’s fair. I always meant for the audience to figure out who the stranger was before Claire did. I just didn’t think they’d be angry that I made it so obvious. But it’s all a learning curve, and I did write that story many years ago when I was less experienced. Anyone who has read the later stories in that series knows how much better they are from the first.
But again, it’s all okay. A good author doesn’t give up when someone doesn’t like what they’ve done – they listen, learn and grow. Sometimes they take those suggestions on board, other times they stay true to what they believe.
Besides, it’s not as if everyone disliked it. I get lots of positive reviews for it as well and those are the people who go on to read the rest of the Desperately Delicious series. If that’s you then I thank you from the bottom of my heart.