I already posted this on Facebook, so I won’t link this post up there today.
I’m excited about this particular cover since there are three ways it can be interpreted, and for this particular book, there are layers of meanings embedded into it that I expect the reader to pick out without having to come out and spell every single thing to them.
Now for my Romance Books tangent which wasn’t intended when I started this post….
With romance, the whole thing is obvious. There aren’t a lot of pieces of information to connect the dots to, and while I love writing romance, let’s face it, there aren’t usually layers of hidden meanings scattered throughout the book which relies on the reader to think about it. Romance is like candy. I’m not knocking romance. I happen to be a big fan of candy, esp. chocolate, but what might surprise a lot of people is that I read more than romances. Romances make up about 40% of what I actually read. And sadly, I am finding the more I read the average romance book on the market (esp. the Harlequin variety), the more boring it gets.
There are only so many misunderstandings, petty arguments, and the lust factor that treats people like out of control animals who must ‘mate or die’ (as if we are not capable of self-control!). I couldn’t get a contract for one of my romance books because I fail to follow the formula. The formula, which I see a lot, is boring me to tears, and quite frankly, you read one typical romance book, you’ve read them all.
Give me a romance where the foundation is in mutual respect between both hero and heroine, where the couple comes together against the odds around them, where arguments are quickly resolved instead of drug out for 1/2 the book or longer, and I prefer sex to happen after marriage since marriage is the biggest commitment one person can make to another (yeah, I know; I’m an old fuddy duddy but I’m sick of people treating marriage like it’s a ‘we can get out when things get ‘inconvenient for me’ situation, and to be honest, I see all the shacking up pre-marriage as a lead into that).
And for ‘not pleasing everyone all the time…’
I realize I’ve just pissed off a lot of people, but it’s how I feel. That’s why in my books, the hero and heroine don’t have sex with each other until after they say ‘I do’. This is why I self-publish my romances. So no one who has control over my books can dictate I do what I don’t feel is right in my heart. I’ve talked to authors who don’t think it’s right to have sex before marriage but wrote it in the book because their editor talked them into it. They wanted to keep that contract so they bent to the will of the market. I don’t ever want to compromise what I believe in for a contract.
This is probably why I get so many 1 and 2 star reviews. People really don’t like my version of romance. But, ironically, it’s also why those who love my books are so loyal to me. I do get emails thanking me for my stance and a request to stay true to what I’ve been doing. So yes, it works. There are other women out there who feel the same way I do, and that did surprise me a lot. Sometimes I feel like I’m the only one out there who thinks the way I do. My books, I believe, end up averaging 3 stars because people either really love them or they really hate them. There are few who have the ‘eh’ feeling about it. And maybe that is really a compliment.
If you aren’t out there creating strong feelings through your work, then are you truly effective? (This isn’t limited to writing but can be applied across any work a person does.) I guess you have to ask yourself if you want to be liked by everybody (which requires no stance at all and makes you easy to forget in the long run) or do you want to take a stand for what you believe in and deal with the antagonism that will be flung your way. If you take a moral stance (regardless of what that stance is), you will end up with a group of people who hate you because they hate your message. This is why politics and religion divides so many people.
Why I really self-publish and will continue to…
I didn’t publish books with the idea I’d sell them. I know that is a lot of why people publish instead of keeping their stories in their notebooks. But I published so I could take my story to the park in a paperback book. Then I wanted a Kindle, so I started publishing them into ebook format so when I finally got the Kindle, I could download them onto my Kindle. Pdf file + Kindle version 2 = not the best mix. So yeah, I was really surprised when I started actually selling books. After self-publishing via vanity presses back in 2002 (when it was $199 to get a nice cover, interior book format, an ISBN, distribution, etc) to early 2008, I never sold anything. So I expected that would be the way it would always be, and I wrote what I wanted to write without any thought to what anyone else might think, good or bad.
Then fast forward to January 3, 2011 and am self-publishing for as cheap as $10 for the picture for my book cover and a proof copy of my paperback book (roughly $12 including the shipping and handling), should I choose to get one, publishing a book costs less than a pair of shoes. I rarely pay out for services. I mostly barter these days. I’ve learned a lot about cutting back on my expenses.
So anyway, I started going through CreateSpace, Kindle and Smashwords because they were a cheap way to publish my books so I could read them. That was all there was to it. And this is why I figure if people are offended by my message and decide not to buy my books, oh well. I know some people who want to keep reading my message but ultimately, it all boils down to whether or not I want to read my book. I’m still surprised my niche appeals to as many people as it does, but I’m not surprised by the amount of people who hate it. I expect people to hate it. It’s unpopular with the culture. But I have to remind myself of why I started publishing to begin with, and this is how I continue.
Why I don’t read my reviews….
The primary reason is because their opinion isn’t going to change what I write. I will write what I want to write for myself, regardless of what it means for my sales.
I don’t check my sales until it’s time to figure out how much debt I can pay off on a certain month. That’s the only time I check them. And the only time I check my reviews is if someone contacts me to tell me they gave me 4 or 5 stars on such and such a book, and then, I only check their review, not all of them. Why? Because other people’s dissenting opinion won’t change what I’m doing. Every book on the planet is going to be accused of ‘poor editing’, regardless of how it’s published or whether it’s true or not, so those reviews are useless as well. One person’s well-written book is another person’s garbage. It’s all subjective.
And if I was doing that poorly with my editing, I don’t think as many people would buy the book or even read it for free as there are. With all the other books and freebies out there, why would they waste their time? So no, I don’t agree that I poorly edit my work. I think most of those complaints are covering up for something else. You can think I’m egotistical all you want, but I consider it being realistic about how the world works. Most people, I’ve learned rarely tell it like they really ‘think it’. Instead, they look for cop-outs to justify thinking the way they do. So no, I can’t learn anything ‘valuable or ultra-important’ from a negative review.
What I can learn from in better writing is discussing my work with like-minded people who are on the same ‘subjective’ page I’m on. People who share my moral beliefs are best equipped to tell me how to better write my story. I don’t want to ‘better write’ something to make someone’s conscience easier to bear because that is a subjective thing. Plot development, characterization, description, editing, etc are more objective and are best viewed through someone who can put aside their subjective views. When I read a book, I may not ‘like’ the subjective messages in it, but I do aim to put aside ‘my’ views and beliefs in order to properly gauge how the book was written and how good the story is. Not everyone reads a book that way. Too many go in with their personal moral compass which leads to the snarky reviews where the reader attacks the author.
Okay. So that was another tangent. I didn’t see it coming. I’ll end this post now and do the dreaded ‘C’–clean my house. This is a scary prospect since I have four kids.