AJ and I continued talking about the subject of self-publishing versus going through a publisher today. We can’t seem to leave it alone this week.
My recent release is getting average ratings when I expected more. I don’t understand it. It’s well-written, has an interesting story and two likable main characters, and a terrific couple of locations. But I’m getting average reviews. Sure, there’s been the odd four- and five-star review, and a couple of lousy ones, but most have fallen in the middle at three. I’m talking about Goodreads, a site many writers see as the bane of their existence, but none of us can stop from visiting to see how our latest is doing.
I asked AJ if I was full of shit, if maybe my perspective on what constitutes an entertaining read was so badly off, I wouldn’t recognize good from bad. He was as mystified as me.
A couple hours later, he shook me by the shoulders and said, “I figured it out!”
According to him, I write men like men. I do not write men with women inside. They don’t over-emote, they don’t obsess. Sure, they have feelings and emotions, but they aren’t spending every minute of every day analyzing them.
He said, “I’m reading a book right now that has what I call girly men in it. It’s not very good, but it’s getting four-star reviews. One reviewer even said it was the emotional connections between the characters that lifted it to that level.”
So…because my guys don’t emote all over the place, female readers won’t like my stories? I rolled my eyes and got even more depressed. It’s been a horrible week for me, confidence-wise. I’ve been vacillating between hope and utter despair in regard to my writing. I didn’t write at all yesterday, I’ve been so bummed.
AJ continued. “You’re not writing straight romance, and your male characters are men, not pseudo-men who act like women. That’s who’s mostly writing them, ya know. Women. And a lot of them can’t wrap their head around how a man really acts in life. That’s why they’re protesting the so-called cheating in the book on GR.”
“They want to read about men who act like women.”
“This particular audience does, yeah. You have to find your target audience, or they have to find you. Don’t give up!”
Yeah, well. The financial wolf is howling at the door and if this was some melodrama, snow would be flying, my fingers would be freezing, and the cupboards would be bare.
When did writing because such a pain in the ass?
Many years ago, I read about a book called The Beans of Egypt, Maine. I don’t recall the writer’s name, but it got lauded in the New York Times and reviewers couldn’t say enough good things about it. The author would take an entire day to write one sentence. She spent years getting every word in the book exactly right. It was going to be the next Great American Novel, or so it was said.
No one read it.
I’m not sure if this should make me feel better or drive me to suicide.