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REVIEW: Mating Call by Gale Stanley

Dear Ms. Stanley:

The only other book I’ve reviewed from Siren Publishing is the infamous Trinity Blacio story The Claiming. I do know that Siren is well known for its menage line called Menage Amour. This is one of the stories from the menage amour line.

I’m not opposed to the menage line and neither am I opposed to brothers as part of the menage scenario probably because, for me, a committed menage exists only in some fantasy scenario although clearly with shows like Sister Love, committed multiple partner relationships are a reality for some.

Mating Call [Black Wolf Gorge 2] Gale Stanley As with all negative reviews, I feel like the book should do the talking. The story opens with readers being introduced to Jude, a rancher in the Pennsylvania Wilds.   He is hunting a wolf and sprays “eau de deer piss” on him in preparation for the hunt. He hates wolves as his parents died defending him and his siblings from a wolf attack. Instead of finding a wolf as he expects, he stumbles upon a gorgeous woman bathing nude in a river. To Jude, a woman nude in the woods is begging to be pleasured by his “womb tickler”.

His own personal sex goddess just waiting for him to make a move. If he didn’t, it would be his loss, and she’d haunt his dreams tonight.

All thoughts of the wolf fled. How often did a man get a chance to score a fine piece of ass like this one?

Already unzipping his jeans, he took a step forward. One look at the womb tickler between his legs and a dose of the old Outlaw family charm and the little seductress would be putty in his hands. He hadn’t had any complaints yet.

Thoughts of seducing the naked woman enjoying a private moment in the stream flee when Jude sees his target change from nude woman to feral wolf.   Fortunately, Jude is adaptable and he goes from wanting to copulate to wanting to exploit the wolf.

When the idea hit, it slammed him hard. This kind of discovery could make him a very rich man.

Jude goes to recruit his twin brother Jonas and they go off to hunt the wolf, again adorned in deer urine.   Nothing says romance like a spray of deer piss. “He sprayed Jude with concentrated deer urine then shoved the bottle at him.”   Jonas is the brains of the duo and Jude is relying on Jonas to turn the she-wolf or “bitch” as Jude likes to think of her, into untold riches.

But Jonas and Jude are aroused at the sight of the she-wolf’s human form and pretty soon they are fucking her, and I do mean fucking. There isn’t anything romantic or loving about their intercourse particularly because when they aren’t fucking her, they are making her pee in front of them, taking blood samples, drugging her, and placing shock collars on her to prevent her from escaping.

They take her out of the collar when they want to have sex with her but when she goes outside, she has to wear a leash. Sable, the Lycan, is helpless to resist the twins’ lusty advances in part because she is in heat. Despite the humiliation of being captured and treated like a dog, being forced to be some sort of experiment for them, Sable loves having sex with twins.

I’m not sure what I am supposed to read into this. The twins treat Sable like an animal yet have no problem screwing her. Sable supposedly hates her captors but has no problem screwing them. To me, it really doesn’t matter that Sable is written as having enjoyed the sex. Raping Sable would have been more merciful than taking her when she was in heat, captured, drugged, with a shock collar, and for the purposes of insemination so that the two can make money off her young.

What makes this even more romantic (and by more I mean way, way less) is that Jonas, the brains of the operation, has a girlfriend who he plans to marry–someday. In the meantime, he’ll continue to have sex with and impregnate this she wolf he captured. And he encourages his brother to commit his sperm to the biology project that will hopefully make the twins rich beyond their dreams:

“Both of us?” Jude thought for a moment. “I might consider it with two of us in the room. It wouldn’t be the first time we shared a woman.”

“That was a long time ago. I wasn’t thinking of a threesome.”

“If you want my sperm, then that’s how it’s going down.”

The lack of thought portrayed by any of the characters makes this story almost comical. Jude, particularly switches between lust and hunter in a matter of seconds. In one scene, Sable has escaped and Jude is hunting her down. He comes upon her and slides his hand under shorts and begins fingering her. Sable is wet, of course, but gives token struggle. Jude responds by grabbing the dart gun in his other hand. Sable fights him in earnest and tries to get away. Jude grabs a branch and whacks in her the back of her knees.

If I was reading a horror novel, a campy horror novel, maybe this would all make sense. But a romance where I am supposed to believe that in the end the three of them create a committed and meaningful triad?

Oh, I know I am supposed to buy into the whole “I really fell in love with you while I was drugging you and making you piss in a cup so I could study your biology” thing but it simply didn’t work. The story had a plot arc but no character arc. Jude and Jonas’ hatred of wolves seemed to melt away under the white hot heat of their orgasms. Their initial agnst transforms from this non existent hatred to a love triangle which also seems easily resolved.

I also found it odd that in the latter half of the book the characters start making religious references. Jude sees something as a sign from God and Jonas asks whether a marriage with a she-wolf could be valid “in the eyes of God.” When Sable exclaims “Gods” on multiple ocassions. These conflicting deity references are never addressed.

At times it was if the circumstances under which Sable came to be under the control of the twins was nonexistent as was the world building for Sable’s Lycan nature, as if it was just a set up or excuse to frame the multitude of sex scenes. While the sex scenes were plentiful, they actually made me grimace given the situation under which the individuals were copulating. In the end, the setup was distasteful; the characters unlikeable; and the worldbuilding shallow. D

Best regards,

Jane

Book Link | Kindle

You could buy this book at Bookstrand, which is the retail location of Siren Publishing, but a book priced 4.99 or under can only be purchased using a StrandBucks voucher which can be purchased in $5.00 and more increments. Plus, it’s far cheaper at Amazon.

Jane Litte is the founder of Dear Author, a lawyer, and a lover of pencil skirts. She spends her downtime reading romances and writing about them. Her TBR pile is much larger than the one shown in the picture and not as pretty. You can reach Jane by email at jane @ dearauthor dot com

95 Comments

  1. Babs
    Nov 25, 2010 @ 04:11:26

    Wow. Sounds like a train wreck. Of major proportions.

    Now I feel like I need another shower because the plot squicked me out.

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  3. Jayne
    Nov 25, 2010 @ 07:32:41

    Jane, I’m curious as to what elevated this above an F grade.

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  4. Jane
    Nov 25, 2010 @ 07:34:20

    @Jayne: I didn’t think it was as bad as The Claiming? I guess because the sentences made sense.

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  5. Bianca
    Nov 25, 2010 @ 07:35:48

    Good lord. This sounds awful — and not even in the “so bad, it could be good” kind of way.

    Do not want, not ever, definitely. *shudders*

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  6. Jayne
    Nov 25, 2010 @ 08:00:35

    @Jane:

    I guess because the sentences made sense.

    I think this might be an instance when even that’s not a good thing! Just reading the review left such a bad taste in my mouth. I can’t imagine actually reading it.

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  7. DS
    Nov 25, 2010 @ 08:26:47

    Did I read that right? A rancher in the Pennsylvania wilds? Pennsylvania has a wolf problem? Is there some other place called Pennsylvania?

    As for the rest of it– I’m just speechless. Especially the spraying self with deer urine. Put on a steak vest and go looking for predators.

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  8. Carolyn
    Nov 25, 2010 @ 08:27:03

    Your use of the word ‘copulating’ says it all, I think.

    Ugh … doesn’t sound like any romance I’d care to read.

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  9. Sandy James
    Nov 25, 2010 @ 08:43:53

    I’m so disappointed that you didn’t review one of the BookStrand mainstream romances. It’s almost like you go through all the books Siren-BookStrand has to offer and look for one you know will be something you won’t enjoy simply so you can trash it. I guess I should be grateful you haven’t reviewed one of my BookStrand books because I’m not sure you’d give it a fair chance…

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  10. Sandy James
    Nov 25, 2010 @ 09:32:24

    BTW — If any Dear Author readers would like to give Siren-BookStrand a chance without any financial risk, my All the Right Reasons is a free download. I’d be honored if any of you who think Siren-BookStrand doesn’t put out quality books would at least give them a chance and try my story.

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  11. Miss_Thing
    Nov 25, 2010 @ 09:35:10

    My reaction to reading this review was 1.) a wince, 2.)an involuntary exclamation of “ewww” (cos nothing says “do me!” like deer urine) and 3.) relief and gratitude that you read this so I don’t have to. Happy Thanksgiving!

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  12. Sarah Frantz
    Nov 25, 2010 @ 10:28:58

    @Sandy James: Done and on my phone already. :)

    ReplyReply

  13. Sandy James
    Nov 25, 2010 @ 10:41:26

    @Sarah Frantz: Thanks, Sarah!! I sure hope you enjoy the story!! Happy Thanksgiving!!

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  14. Shelley
    Nov 25, 2010 @ 11:34:55

    For some reason, covers like these remind me of Lady Gaga’s “meat dress.”

    ReplyReply

  15. Jane Lovering
    Nov 25, 2010 @ 12:00:40

    Yeah, what is it with that cover? Is his hand reeeeeeeally huge or is she just reeeeeeeally thin?

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  16. becca
    Nov 25, 2010 @ 14:28:45

    so tell me more about http://www.bookstrand.com/all-the-right-reasons – is it erotica? The plot summary and the reviews at the site you linked to don’t make it terribly clear what genre this is.

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  17. Sandy James
    Nov 25, 2010 @ 14:40:27

    @becca: Steamy, but definitely not erotica. I guess you could say the heat level is traditional mainstream romance. Love scenes that are thorough while not being too graphic. It’s a contemporary story about a soldier returning from service in Iraq who’s trying to heal from his own injury as well as losing his friend in an explosion. Since his family and friends race horses, it was a chance for me to write about racing (which I love!) and to honor my former students who have served their country. Thanks so much for taking the time to read the summary and the reviews!

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  18. Mari
    Nov 25, 2010 @ 17:28:10

    Sigh. Its one of the things I dislike about the romance genre. If you would just rely on the covers, you’d ineveitably think every one is crapola. And people do, based just on the ridiculous covers. And this one didn’t disapoint. I almost wish there was some kind of rule that crap covers=crap story so you’d know what you are buying. Sometimes I likes me a bit of well written, hot smutty trash….

    Sandy, it’s not “trashing” to give a bad review. And no one is under any obligation to like the book you write. Sorry. Jane gives well thought out reasons for her opinion. And provides ample evidence for her dislike. But as with all reviews, its just one person’s opinion, no matter how well written. There might be other reviewers out there who really like the book…..

    That said…it occurs to me that some reviewers approach every book like its meant to be a literay masterpiece. And they employ the same kind of gimlet eye toward smutty trash like this book, as they would to something more “seriously written.” Don’t know how fair that is, but who says reviewers have to be fair?

    The solution is to find a reviewer whose tsates mirror yours. And for an author to have her friends blog about her book!

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  19. Sandy James
    Nov 25, 2010 @ 17:45:08

    @Mari: Okay, point taken on the “trash” comment. I apologize. I guess I was simply disappointed that the only two books Dear Author has ever reviewed from my publisher are menage/erotica. Makes sense because that’s their specialty. I’m one of their mainstream authors, and several of us begged for a review back when The Claiming was reviewed. I had hoped Jane would choose one of our stories instead to see another side of Siren–something other than menage.

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  20. Jayne
    Nov 25, 2010 @ 18:27:52

    @Sandy James: No, this is wrong. I reviewed Lindsay Townsend’s book “Blue Gold” the same month Jane did the review of “The Claiming” but later on after her review – and I remember emailing her that I doubted anyone would notice the fact. And apparently no one did.

    “Siren-Bookstrand” is one of the tags for the review so it’s easy to check. http://dearauthor.com/wordpress/2009/06/14/review-blue-gold-by-lindsay-townsend/

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  21. Sandy James
    Nov 25, 2010 @ 18:51:40

    @Jayne: Thank you for reminding me! I had forgotten Lindsay made an appearance before the infamous The Claming review.

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  22. Jane
    Nov 25, 2010 @ 19:00:46

    @SandyJames I have not reviewed one of your books because I haven’t been able to finish enough of one of them to give a review, even a DNF review. It would be incorrect to say that I haven’t tried other Siren books only that this is the second one I have finished and reviewed.

    I have finished one other godawful ménage book set in this town so famous for ménages that there is a museum devoted to the founders and their lifestyle but I haven’t gotten around to reviewing it.

    ReplyReply

  23. Sandy James
    Nov 25, 2010 @ 19:41:40

    @Jane: Wow. Well then… I guess it’s time for me to bow out of this discussion. Won’t be bothering you again.

    ReplyReply

  24. Jane
    Nov 25, 2010 @ 20:17:44

    @Sandy James I could have phrased my response more delicately and I apologize for that. The point I was trying to make, albeit clumsily, was that we read or try out many books that are never talked about on DA because we don’t make it very far into the books, at least not enough to give a review. It doesn’t mean that the books we don’t try out are bad, but that they don’t catch our interest enough to continue.

    As for the recommendation to try the straight contemp line, I like erotic romance. Sometimes the hotness of a story can make a reader overlook other flaws, just like a good suspense plot can carry a weaker romantic arc.

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  25. Anon
    Nov 25, 2010 @ 21:12:14

    @Sandy James: I wouldn’t take it to heart. I have bought a lot of books recommended by Jane and Jayne and I could not get past the first five pages — they were so awful. But, that’s my opinion alone. Not everyone feels that way.

    Everyone has their bias, and you have to take that into account when thinking about buying a book based on reviews.

    It only takes the reader of a review one instance to see if the book recommended is really as good as the reviewer says. If it isn’t, then you see their bias and take it into account in future. Readers aren’t silly and don’t like wasting their money. If the books are good, they’ll continue to buy them.

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  26. Merrian
    Nov 25, 2010 @ 22:51:37

    I haven’t read this book and after the review I don’t want to. I do want to draw parallels though between the response to the review of Purity’s Passion over at SBTB and this book. As I read the review of Mating Call, I was reminded of the issues discussed about that Old Skool 1970′s romance. Rape is rape and that is what is described in the synopsis above. We are past the 1970′s so this book doesn’t even have that fig leaf to cover its shortcomings. There was also a discussion recently on the Read React Review blog about ‘unsavoury seduction’ that I think is relevant. At the best this book seems to fit that category as well.

    @ Anon, it is interesting about the need to click with reviewers because Dear Author is one of my go to sites for reviews because my mind works in the same way theirs does. Yet ‘A’ reviews from SBTB often don’t work for me.

    @ Sandy James, I think you picked the wrong book to call the Jane’s out on. I have my share of Siren Bookstrand books in my e-library and can say they are most often shallow stories about shallow people and illogical with that whether it is in the world building or the plot. I like science fiction/futuristic stories so these issues show up really clearly in those sort of texts. There are now so many other ebook options that I seldom bother looking at the website anymore.

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  27. Ridley
    Nov 26, 2010 @ 13:06:23

    Man, Sandy James, author whining on a reader blog, FTL.

    That’s not good marketing.

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  28. cs
    Nov 26, 2010 @ 13:20:20

    @Ridley: Tell me about it.

    I’m not sure why Sandy needed to pimp her book out? Believe me if someone wanted to read your book they would. No need to derail this thread. Plus the whole “look at my book, my publisher isn’t that crap” makes you look bad. In any case, it’s all kind of mute since Jane stated she has read your book(s) and well that didn’t end well. It’s better to seethe inside than on a public forum.

    The review, well I’ve read a few menage stories from this publisher – and dear GOD they’re awful. However, the whole deer urine is just taking the cake.

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  29. Char
    Nov 26, 2010 @ 18:34:04

    Well, that was efficient. I may not always agree with Dear Author on the A reviews, but the Ds, absolutely. My trust in an author is easily broken. The DNB list keeps getting longer and longer.

    AND where was Sable’s pack? Why weren’t they keeping her close to home if she was in heat? If she’s in heat in a dog-like lycan way, I feel the author should keep to most of the rest of the dog/lycan traits. World/culture building matters.

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  30. Author On Vacation
    Nov 26, 2010 @ 19:54:04

    @Mari:

    That said…it occurs to me that some reviewers approach every book like its meant to be a literay masterpiece. And they employ the same kind of gimlet eye toward smutty trash like this book, as they would to something more “seriously written.” Don't know how fair that is, but who says reviewers have to be fair?

    I am probably guilty of this kind of reviewing, and I feel no need to apologize for it.

    I review strictly on a volunteer basis. I do not accept free copies of books, I only review books I selected, purchased, and read.

    When I review I consider multiple factors including the storyline, writing quality, and whether I felt the book was worth the time/money investment. Sometimes, even though I might not like the book myself, I still recognize good points in it that I think might appeal to other readers and I try to convey that in my review.

    If an author isn’t “serious” about his/her writing, I don’t want to be bothered with his/her book. Just because a book contains erotica, comedy, or any other component doesn’t excuse the author from doing a decent job.

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  31. Author On Vacation
    Nov 26, 2010 @ 20:04:11

    @Ridley:

    Man, Sandy James, author whining on a reader blog, FTL.

    That's not good marketing.

    Ridley, I’m intereested in greater clarification about your comment.

    I didn’t perceive James’s remarks as “whining” so much as an expression of frustration.

    I know you regularly visit and contribute to this site, so you must be already aware of the excessive amount of non-productive complaining and criticism directed towards authors and the publishing industry as a whole that certainly qualifies as “whining.”

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  32. Ridley
    Nov 26, 2010 @ 20:38:30

    @Author On Vacation:

    Man, I’ll give one thing to Sandy James – she’s at least got the decency to use her name. She puts her money where her mouth is, and that’s respectable.

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  33. Author On Vacation
    Nov 26, 2010 @ 22:05:23

    @Ridley:

    @Author On Vacation:

    Man, I'll give one thing to Sandy James – she's at least got the decency to use her name. She puts her money where her mouth is, and that's respectable.

    You’re a good person to give Sandy James snaps for using her name, but that doesn’t answer my question.

    I asked you to clarify your comment accusing Sandy James of “whining on a reader blog.”

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  34. Ridley
    Nov 26, 2010 @ 22:57:18

    @Author On Vacation:

    It’s not whining when we talk about our gripes with publishing because they exist solely because of readers’ custom. If they want our money, they need to dance to our tune.

    As a reader-reviewer, Jane owes nothing to authors or publishers, save civility, I suppose.

    So, it’s just silly to complain to your customers, potential or otherwise. That’s not the way the power dynamic works. I don’t care that her feelings were hurt because Jane hasn’t gone out of her way to showcase Siren pubbed books she enjoyed. I just want to know what to buy and what to avoid.

    Never mind that there’s a few hundred romances put out every month. Jane & Co. review a few dozen. It’s not going to be a scientific sample of all publishers and sub-genres. It seemed so over-sensitive to complain about Siren’s bad track record here.

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  35. Author On Vacation
    Nov 27, 2010 @ 00:35:41

    @Ridley:

    Thank you for an honest, clear answer.

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  36. Author On Vacation
    Nov 27, 2010 @ 00:40:47

    @Ridley:

    @Author On Vacation:

    It's not whining when we talk about our gripes with publishing because they exist solely because of readers' custom. If they want our money, they need to dance to our tune.

    As a reader-reviewer, Jane owes nothing to authors or publishers, save civility, I suppose.

    So, it's just silly to complain to your customers, potential or otherwise. That's not the way the power dynamic works. I don't care that her feelings were hurt because Jane hasn't gone out of her way to showcase Siren pubbed books she enjoyed. I just want to know what to buy and what to avoid.

    Never mind that there's a few hundred romances put out every month. Jane & Co. review a few dozen. It's not going to be a scientific sample of all publishers and sub-genres. It seemed so over-sensitive to complain about Siren's bad track record here.

    Thank you for an honest, clear answer concerning your need for a sense of empowerment over artists.

    I still don’t understand how James’s comments have been interpreted as “whining.” Would you please clarify why you perceive the comments as such?

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  37. Ridley
    Nov 27, 2010 @ 01:23:37

    @Author On Vacation:

    I guess I should be grateful you haven't reviewed one of my BookStrand books because I'm not sure you'd give it a fair chance…

    You can’t physically say something like that without making a pouty face.

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  38. Author On Vacation
    Nov 27, 2010 @ 02:47:52

    @Ridley:

    Well, Ridley, I honestly didn’t perceive the comment as you have. I’m not saying your perspective is wrong, just that I disagree with it.

    Food for thought: most e-communication suffers notoriously poor “channel richness.” It is very hard to accurately perceive the tone and emotional connotations of typed messages.

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  39. Jaclyn
    Nov 27, 2010 @ 08:31:32

    I have not read Mating Call, and based on Jane’s review, I would get frustrated really fast. As a reader I *want* to suspend my disbelief for a while, but this one would probably stretch beyond the limits of my tolerance for crazy wacked-out goings-on.

    Isn’t part of sex (at least for many people; and by people, I mean women) the emotional aspect–what’s going on in your head? Because based on what Jane says, there’s nothing going on in any of these character’s heads other than exploitation and a the drive to copulate due to instinct from being in heat.

    That’s not a foundation for love, and what I am seeking from a romance (even an erotic one) is an “I’m in love” HEA.

    I’ve never read a Siren-Bookstrand book. After Ms. James comments and others in this thread discussion, I’m heading to the web site to pick something for my weekend read.

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  40. TKF
    Nov 27, 2010 @ 12:15:35

    @Anon:

    It only takes the reader of a review one instance to see if the book recommended is really as good as the reviewer says. If it isn't, then you see their bias and take it into account in future. Readers aren't silly and don't like wasting their money. If the books are good, they'll continue to buy them.

    Bias seems like the wrong word to me. I think you’re talking about taste or preferences. It doesn’t appear to me that Jane is biased against menage or Siren, but she clearly didn’t enjoy this book (which appears to follow the old school “rape her till she loves you” formula).

    I don’t think anyone always agree with all reviews (here, on SB, in RT [!!!], on AAR, or anywhere else), but I have started to discover which reviewers and I share the same taste in books (Jayne for example tends to align pretty closely with me). And everyone has things they dislike (such as the afore mentioned “rape her till she loves you” plot, which enrages me).

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  41. Julia Rachel Barrett
    Nov 27, 2010 @ 13:58:39

    I’ve been following this site for some time. I don’t read Dear Author just for the reviews, but I will glance at them. Dear Author is one of my thrice daily go to sites because Jane posts a great deal of useful information.

    I write for several e-publishers, Siren-Bookstrand among them. Siren is the most professional ebook publisher I’ve been associated with in nearly four years. Jane might not have enjoyed Mating Call and I have absolutely no problem with that, but I would like to encourage those of you who are curious to explore some of the genres and authors at Siren. If menage or shape-shifters are not your cup of tea, some of us do write mainstream romance and erotic m/f romance.

    I can’t say enough about the wonderful way Siren treats their authors. If you’ve been paying attention to the blogosphere, including one of Jane’s recent posts, you will note that epubs are not a single generic entity.

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  42. Reader Too
    Nov 27, 2010 @ 14:42:59

    I’m not one of those readers who believes reviewers go out of their way to review titles they KNOWINGLY will dislike. Besides being petty, it’s time-consuming and reviewers (who are, after all, readers who publicly voice their opinions) want to read books they enjoy.

    As for genre (or the many sub-categories of erotic romance) I don’t believe it would matter one iota whether a story is menage, M/M or het erotica if the author’s voice is not to a reviewer’s liking.

    When I go to a site, I check these things out to determine whether I’d purchase a book from the publisher:

    - Site design: Is it easy for me to navigate? Do they accept all major credit cards? Is their site stable?

    - Covers: Not a big thing for many, but I like a good cover, so if the covers aren’t to my liking, I usually don’t stay around long.

    - Authors: Who publishes with this company? Mostly unknowns? Authors I’ve read previously and liked? Disliked?

    - Excerpts: This is the deal-maker or deal-breaker for me. If the excerpts lack depth and good pacing, if the characters have shallow thoughts (or none at all), if there is no nuance nor plot other than how awfully studly he/she is and the protagonist has to hit that, then my shopping usually ends there.

    I read menage and will admit to being a fan of the category. But I’ll admit to never having purchased a title from Siren, so I have no idea whether I’d enjoy one of their stories. Nothing has grabbed me yet, though I’m certainly not closed to browsing and will do so again in the future. I WILL say that that many of the writers have a style all their own.

    But to me, that’s what differentiates publishers. Avon and Harlequin and Kensington all publish romance, but when I look at their offerings, I know what I’m getting–and that’s the way it should be, IMO.

    Among e-publishers, Siren appears to be successful in its own right and I see its authors expressing happiness quiet often. That’s good–no matter how I feel about the quality of its offerings. As I try to allot money to publishers who pay their authors and treat them fairly, this is a plus in my book and will keep them on my browsing list. But I’ll be careful to note that authors’ happiness/loyalty quotient is certainly not the first thing I look for when I want something to read.

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  43. Author On Vacation
    Nov 27, 2010 @ 15:04:20

    @TKF:


    Bias seems like the wrong word to me. I think you're talking about taste or preferences. It doesn't appear to me that Jane is biased against menage or Siren, but she clearly didn't enjoy this book (which appears to follow the old school “rape her till she loves you” formula).

    I don't think anyone always agree with all reviews (here, on SB, in RT [!!!], on AAR, or anywhere else), but I have started to discover which reviewers and I share the same taste in books (Jayne for example tends to align pretty closely with me). And everyone has things they dislike (such as the afore mentioned “rape her till she loves you” plot, which enrages me).

    Although I enjoy reading reviews, agree with some and disagree with others, book reviews have never deterred me from purchasing and reading books I considered interesting. I’ve probably purchased books I might not have considered because of a positive review, but a poor review wouldn’t deter me from a purchase/read.

    The fact is I don’t need a stranger to tell me what’s good reading or not. I’ve also become very leery of on-line reviewers and review sites due to the lack of professionalism and ethics involved in their creation and maintenance. Until some kind of professional standards and code of ethics regulate e-reviewers, both the books and the reading public are at the mercy of the reviewer.

    I released a menage erotic romance novel last year. Within a few months I was astonished to read a negative review on a pretty large, older romance review site. In a scant paragraph, the reviewer criticized the novels’ overall writing quality without providing any specifics or examples as to why she found the novel “bad,” and THEN claimed the “worst part” of the novel was its use of incestuous relationships.

    The book didn’t feature any incestuous relationships, not even the kinda-sorta incest sometimes featured in erotic romance, i.e. a heroine taking on two brothers.

    The review bothered me because I don’t like liars. I’ve concluded the reviewer never read the novel at all or, if s/he did read the novel, s/he lacked ability to analyze the work. For whatever reason, the book didn’t “work” for her, s/he couldn’t articulate why it didn’t work, and just branded it bad in every way.

    The worst thing, however, is how this lie has probably influenced and disappointed readers. Readers repelled by the “incest trope” probably avoided the book like plague BUT readers attracted to the “incest trope” may have bought and read the book only to find the book contained no incest.

    At that point, I had to recognize that if a reviewer lied about my book, who’s to say this reviewer and other reviewers don’t lie about other books? I’m not saying all reviewers are liars, just that a review site and its reviewers are only as good as the ethics and responsibility of people behind it. For now, at least, e-reviews are consequence-free (for the reviewer, anyway.) Most review sites don’t seem to require any particular qualifications or credentials from their reviewers. Many review sites feature disclaimers refusing to remove or to edit reviews for any reason.

    Not all review sites and reviewers are created equal, of course. DA and other review sites provide many intelligent, well-supported reviews I enjoy reading. That said, I take all reviews with a grain of salt and prefer to rely on my own decision-making skills when it comes to selecting books.

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  44. Jayne
    Nov 27, 2010 @ 18:36:24

    That's not a foundation for love, and what I am seeking from a romance (even an erotic one) is an “I'm in love” HEA.

    Jaclyn’s comment reminded me of a question I meant to ask you, Jane. Was this book marketed as a romance? Erotic romance? Erotica?

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  45. Jane
    Nov 27, 2010 @ 20:21:06

    @Jayne This is what it says on Amazon:

    [Menage Amour: Erotic Paranormal Menage a Trois Romance, M/F/M, Shape-shifter, Bondage] Human contact is the last thing Sable wants, and the she-wolf lives wild to avoid any chance encounters. But when a hunter sees the beautiful woman transform into his quarry, she becomes fair game. Jude and his twin, Jonas, capture the feral creature and plan to tame the wild beast, but her mating frenzy ignites their lust and blurs the line between captor and captive. The she-wolf can't deny her attraction to the brothers, and their passion creates a strong bond that none are willing to accept. Sable has no desire for a pair of human mates, but destiny steps in, and she finds herself mated to men who only think of her as an animal. Suddenly, she's in more danger than she thought possible, and the need to escape increases. But the bond between her and her captors is sealed, and she discovers surrender isn’t necessarily a bad thing. ** A Siren Erotic Romance

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  46. Sarah Frantz
    Nov 27, 2010 @ 20:59:03

    @Julia Rachel Barrett:

    I can't say enough about the wonderful way Siren treats their authors.

    That’s…great, but while I care when publishers treat their authors badly, I do not choose my publishers on how well they treat their authors, but on the quality of the books they put out. So, they might pay their authors on time and not abuse them a la Red Rose, but if they put out crap, then they’re not going to get my loyalty.

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  47. katiebabs
    Nov 27, 2010 @ 22:09:26

    If an author spends hours upon hours writing a book, giving up their time to write the best possible story in their mind, wouldn’t they be serious about their writing? Even if readers think it’s crap?

    And even if one person doesn’t like Mating Call, I can bet you there is another out there who did enjoy the story.

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  48. Author On Vacation
    Nov 28, 2010 @ 00:48:11

    @katiebabs:

    If an author spends hours upon hours writing a book, giving up their time to write the best possible story in their mind, wouldn't they be serious about their writing? Even if readers think it's crap?

    And even if one person doesn't like Mating Call, I can bet you there is another out there who did enjoy the story.

    Hi. I’m not sure if your question is directed to my post #29 where I commented:

    If an author isn't “serious” about his/her writing, I don't want to be bothered with his/her book. Just because a book contains erotica, comedy, or any other component doesn't excuse the author from doing a decent job.

    Here are the main criteria on which I evaluate books:

    A. Characterization: fully developed and engaging main characters; secondary characters serve a purpose in the storyline. I DON’T evaluate characters on whether I personally like them or not, nor do characters have to experience change/growth. I’m more interested in depth and development. Do the MC’s come across as real, believable personalities?

    B. Plot elements: good structure, well-built, and complete. Has a beginning, middle, and end with good, fluid transition.

    C. Authenticity (in setting/world-building/historical period/costume/character profession): Nothing’s worse than obvious poorly researched or poorly imagined work.

    D. Technical writing: every author’s style is different and every reader’s preference is different. Good writing IMHO boasts a healthy balance of various elements; believeable dialogue, more showing than telling, variety in word usage, sentence length and structure. It should not be riddled with editorial errors.

    E. Does the story “fit” its genre/classification? This matters to me. I once read a fabulous erotic horror short story. It was very good, but I felt let down because it was marketed as “erotic romance.” The storyline, particularly the ending, wasn’t what I expected.

    In my mind, it’s not enough for an author to be willing to put hours and hours of time into writing a book. Writers have to be willing to research their topic/s. Writers have to be willing to invest in developing their craft technically. Sometimes that means taking classes in creative writing and perhaps extra English courses to study literature and hone their own tastes. There are many wonderful writers’ references and resources writers can study on their own time to identify their “weaknesses” and work on developing them.

    Most important (IMHO) a good writer reads. No exceptions. When I hear an author claim, “I don’t read popular fiction, I don’t want my own work to be tainted by exposure to other stories,” I RUN NOT WALK away from their releases. ALL great writers are well-read.

    In short, writing is a job, a very time-consuming one, if one intends to do it well.

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  49. Maili
    Nov 28, 2010 @ 09:56:44

    @Author On Vacation:

    At that point, I had to recognize that if a reviewer lied about my book, who's to say this reviewer and other reviewers don't lie about other books?

    OK, I’m intrigued – how does a reviewer lie about a book? Could you explain what you mean? Incorrect facts or incorrect recollections of the story? If it’s this, then it’s more to do with laziness, not lying, surely?

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  50. Brandi
    Nov 28, 2010 @ 11:08:01

    I have a pretty high tolerance for rape stories, It’s not an uncommon fantasy for women so I doubt I’m alone in that, but I wouldn’t be happy with this story unless she ends up eating them at the end. There’s a very delicate balance in rape stories between a likeable hero and a despicable rapist.

    I know, there isn’t a way for that balance to exist in the real world, but it can be done in fiction, at least well enough to satisfy lovers of the genre. This sounds like a major fail to me, but I could see someone with a hardcore rape/humilation fantasy loving it.

    One woman’s squick is another’s hotness.

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  51. sirius11214
    Nov 28, 2010 @ 11:14:28

    @Maili:

    I believe Author on vacation said that the reviewer stated that book had incest when it did not have any incest. Yeah, to me it sounds like a lie. Or at the very least such reviewer put out very confusing review. I meant to address that to Author on vacation directly, but may as well ask her (him?) here. Did you say something in response to that review? I usually roll my eyes when author responds to a negative review, because author obviously has self serving interests in doing so, however if reviewer got her facts wrong, I would cheer for the author responding and smacking such reviewer and telling her to read the book more carefully before she takes the task of reviewing.

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  52. Kalen Hughes
    Nov 28, 2010 @ 11:25:44

    @Author On Vacation: I too had a review with what I considered a fundamental problem on an older and generally well thought of review site. :::cough:::AAR:::cough::: In the review, I had basically been accused of plagiarizing a novel and writer I’ve never even heard of (lifting my heroine directly from this novel). When I wrote a polite and calm email to them, explaining why I had a problem with this one aspect of the review, they corrected it.

    And I’ve been savaged too. One reviewer said that she hated everything about my heroine and that all my historical details were anachronistic (without specifying anything in particular). Her, I simply had to shrug off, because nothing could have come of it but another episode of “authors behaving badly”. Clearly she has no idea what the hell she’s talking about, and I just have to hope that readers who see her review look at a couple of other ones . . .

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  53. sirius11214
    Nov 28, 2010 @ 11:26:44

    @Author On Vacation:

    Okay, now I am curious. How do you choose the new authors to read then if you do not trust any reviewers? You read blurbs and decide based on them or is there any other method you use?

    If you read blurbs, I find them to be a scam for the most part, in my experience they are often the most edited part of the book and a short one at that. I know the authors who put their books on Smashwords for example (do not know them personally, just read their books) and who put out samples which are 20-30% length of the work, okay, this is a different story for me, when I read that much, I can definitely decide if the work will be to my taste, but one chapter or half a chapter? Not for me, no.

    Of course I do not automatically agree or disagree with the reviewer. I mostly read gay romances, so Sarah Frantz is the reviewer I read the most on this site and by now I definitely learned that in many ways her tastes are very different than mine, like she seems to like much more sex scenes in the books than I do,so I know what to look for and whether to get the book she praises or not to get the books she dislikes. But I am also well read in the genre, I know the authors I love and the authors I do not like, I know where to look for different reviews, like I visit a site where I learned that at least two reviewers there have tastes that 99% identical to mine. So really in m/m/gay romances I do not need to rely on the reviews a lot. However I also read one or two het romances a month and I have absolutely no clue what is good and what is not. So I come here and I skim other reviews or if I see something interesting I read carefully.

    Like menage I read even less than het romances so you bet I will read reviewer I respect for first and foremost factual information about the book and if it has trope I despise, like this one (rape her or him till they love you) I will never go near this book, ever. I do not need to agree with Jane as to whether this book is even written well. Nothing salvages this trope for me, I get very angry when I read it, so it is a very good thing I stumbled upon this one.

    Hm, I do have a tendency to ramble, but yes my question is how do you choose new authors to read? Thanks.

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  54. Julia Rachel Barrett
    Nov 28, 2010 @ 11:31:38

    @Sarah Frantz:
    I find your response offensive, whether you intended it to be offensive or not. I don’t write crap, neither do most of the authors I know. So, before you make the assumption that Siren puts out crap, read some of our books.

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  55. Julia Rachel Barrett
    Nov 28, 2010 @ 11:38:59

    One other comment and then I’ll drop it. I’ve read books from mainstream pubs that have received A reviews on this site. I read the book based upon the review and find that in my humble opinion it’s a POS. Does that mean I assume a particular publisher only puts out crap? Just because I don’t like one book, or dislike a particular genre, or one author doesn’t mean everything the publisher prints is crap. C’mon, let’s be reasonable.

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  56. Sirius11214
    Nov 28, 2010 @ 11:40:26

    @Maili: Wierd, for some reason my response did not show up so trying again. I believe Author on vacation said that reviewer claimed that her/his book contained the incest while it did not have any. Maybe reviewer did not lie, I hope she was just confused, but seriously I think she owes her readers to reread her review before she puts it up especially if she claims that review contains such squiky for some trope. As I said in my reply to Author on vacation I despise with passion the trope which is this book based on. Imagine that there was no such trope in the book, I may have at least considered giving it a try.

    Author on vacation, have you responded to this review correcting it? I usually roll my eyes when author responds to negative review, because they have self serving interest in doing so and I highly unlikely to even consider supporting them, but I fully expect and will cheer on the author who will respond with factual correction of such review.

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  57. Reader Too
    Nov 28, 2010 @ 12:17:33

    More than two years after finding this blog, I’m still fascinated whenever published authors come out in defense of their publisher. I’ve seen it so many times, with different e-houses, but the tone is always the same.

    A good publisher needs no defense. Its output speaks for itself. I’m trying to recall a time when I’ve witnessed this type of reaction from authors whose publishers where I primarily shop (Liquid Silver, Loose Id, Samhain and Red Sage) and I’ve drawn a blank. Most of them simply go about their business–putting out good product.

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  58. Author On Vacation
    Nov 28, 2010 @ 12:36:56

    @Maili:

    @Author On Vacation:

    OK, I'm intrigued – how does a reviewer lie about a book? Could you explain what you mean? Incorrect facts or incorrect recollections of the story? If it's this, then it's more to do with laziness, not lying, surely?

    Hi, Maili.

    With all due respect, reviewers have a duty to their readers as well as to the authors whose books they review to offer a faithful, honest, and accurate anaylysis of the work. If the reviewer is “lazy” or posts a “mistake,” steps should be taken to correct the mistake and reinforce the review/er’s credibility.

    A “lie” is any statement offered with the intention to deceive. While a review error may begin as a “mistake” or as “laziness,” once the reviewer and/or the review site is made aware of the “mistake” but declines to correct it, willful deception occurs. If the reviewer and/or the review site are aware they published inaccurate details about a book, but refuse to change it “because their policy doesn’t allow for removal or changes of reviews,” the reviewer and the site webmaster/s have made a decision to willfully deceive readers visiting the site.

    For the record, a reviewer I enjoy reading recently posted inaccurate information in a review. The error struck me as so odd, I investigated it, and discovered the inaccuracy simply by reading the free excerpt at the epublisher’s website. The reviewer, once alerted to the error, IMMEDIATELY posted a correction and an apology. The reviewer’s opinion of the book was actually quite favorable, but she corrected the inaccuracy anyway. Because it was the ethical, professional thing to do.

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  59. Author On Vacation
    Nov 28, 2010 @ 13:24:02

    @Kalen Hughes:

    I've been savaged too. One reviewer said that she hated everything about my heroine and that all my historical details were anachronistic (without specifying anything in particular). Her, I simply had to shrug off, because nothing could have come of it but another episode of “authors behaving badly”. Clearly she has no idea what the hell she's talking about, and I just have to hope that readers who see her review look at a couple of other ones . . .

    I think one of the worst symptoms related to the amateur status of e-reviewing is the clear imbalance between the reviewer and authors/publishers/books.

    If a reviewer chooses to roast a book, the reviewer is “exercising free speech” and expressing an opinion. If an author challenges the review, the author is “misbehaving” and “should know to keep his/her mouth shut.”

    In the review I mentionned, what “pushed my buttons” was the obvious dishonesty. Language used to roast my book was very vague and unspecific, which suggested to me the reviewer had not read the novel. It’s one thing to read a book, not “gel” with the book, and then provide a well-considered, analytical opinion specifying what “didn’t work” for the reviewer. A “bad” review, if honest and fair, can be an excellent learning tool for an author.

    ANY reader is entittled to read a book and form an opinion on it. It’s all right with me if someone reads my work and doesn’t like it. But if they post negative reviews, I at least expect them to be articulate and clear and honest. I don’t think that’s an unreasonable expectation. And certainly don’t post inaccuracies about the storyline, characters, or other elements.

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  60. Sirius11214
    Nov 28, 2010 @ 13:36:40

    @Author On Vacation:

    My response to Maili and you will not show up, so I am going to repeat part of it here. I think that the reviewer who misrepresented your book indeed owed to her readers to at least reread review and not post such obnoxious mistake, but now I see that you tried to correct them and they would not do it? Very obnoxious behavior IMO.

    However unless author responds to negative review with factual correction (which I definitely think they should), I absolutely expect the author as you put it “to keep their mouth shut”. Really, the only one who comes out of it looking bad is the author in my view, because author is selling a product, reviewer does not.

    What I am trying to say is that besides misrepresenting facts from your book, which I totally think was wrong, you also accused this unnamed reviewer of being not specific enough about why book did not work for her, right?

    Well, whatever felt not specific enough for you may be very specific for another reader, right?

    For example, if I read in the review that the book was all sex and no plot, I do not *need* any more specifics about why book did not work for the reviewer, everything is clear for me and I know this book as a rule is not a book I would buy. And then imagine the author showing up and saying that reviewer should have been more specific. Nope, they should not have been, not for this reader. Am I making sense?

    I do not think authors should argue with the reviewer, as people said whatever works for one person will not work for another and vice versa, but if author does argue, I know that author has self serving interests and will think twice before buying the book.

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  61. Maili
    Nov 28, 2010 @ 14:53:20

    @Author On Vacation: Thank you. :)

    While I agree with what you’re saying, I truly believe it’s a case of “it depends”.

    Authors don’t seem to mind mistakes or ‘lies’ in reviews when a) they have good grades or b) it’s reviewed by the likes of entry of Harriet Klausner.

    Klausner’s quite notorious for getting the details of almost every book wrong in her reviews. Over years when readers questioned Klausner over the mistakes in her reviews, she’s rarely if ever corrected those mistakes. As far as I can remember (since the Usenet days, in fact), she’s ignored responses.

    Based on your criterion, authors should condemn her as a liar and an untrustworthy reviewer, but they don’t. In fact, many still say that Klausner is the “most professional reviewer”. Time again and again, I’ve seen many authors saying Klausner is one of best and ‘most trustworthy’ book reviewers around.

    From what I see, most readers themselves don’t consider Klausner trustworthy nor credible. I completely ignore Klausner’s reviews myself. I wince when an author share a link to a Klausner review of her book, to be honest.

    Anyroad, I do think readers can tell who’s trustworthy and who isn’t, regardless of how authors feel about those reviewers and whether these reviewers – print or online – are professional or not.

    What I’m saying is, I suppose, I don’t see how reviewers can be ‘liars’ or deceitful when it’s their credibility on line. Authors’ views are, I’m sorry, irrelevant in this case. Readers matter more because it’s their money that’s on the line.

    When a reviewer lets them down too many times, readers won’t buy books on her reviews – positive or not – alone again. In other words, it’s not about authors, but – as you say – reviewers’ ‘duty’ to readers, which is heavily based on trust. If a reader feels the reviewer is not doing her job (praise a bad book or negate a good book instead of the ‘right’ way), the reader won’t trust that reviewer ever again.

    Authors will just have to trust readers to know when reviewers aren’t at their best, which is why I think criticising reviews are best left to readers (including authors with their reader hats on).

    Sorry for such a messy response, but I hope it makes sense somehow. :)

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  62. Maili
    Nov 28, 2010 @ 15:00:07

    @Sirius11214: It makes sense and I agree.

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  63. Author On Vacation
    Nov 28, 2010 @ 15:43:28

    @sirius11214:

    @Author On Vacation:

    Okay, now I am curious. How do you choose the new authors to read then if you do not trust any reviewers? You read blurbs and decide based on them or is there any other method you use?

    Hi, sirius11214. I’ve been choosing my own books without help since I was about eight, I’m a pro by now. : )

    I read blurbs, teasers, and sample chapters. If an author has any free stories available, I may read that first.

    However, my main goal in the “investigative shopping phase” is to evaluate the author’s style, technical ability, and storytelling ability.

    I get the impression some readers feel that, if they didn’t enjoy the book, they got short-changed. While enjoyment is certainly important, enjoyment is not the sole element of entertainment. I’ve read books I personally did not enjoy, but I still recognized the work as a well-written, cohesive story other readers more attracted to the storyline might like.

    Dan Brown is a kick-butt author. Great style, great turn of phrase. It doesn’t surprise me he’s so popular, he’s an imaginative, creative author. But … His stories aren’t my first choice or even my second choice when it comes to defining a “good read.” If I reviewed “The Da Vinci Code,” I would give the book the praise it deserves for its obvious strengths. I would definitely recommend the book to people who enjoy suspenseful, imaginative thrillers. But I cannot say I personally “liked” the book, and if it hadn’t been given to me as a birthday gift, I never would have read it.

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  64. Author On Vacation
    Nov 28, 2010 @ 16:07:30

    @Sirius11214:

    Really, the only one who comes out of it looking bad is the author in my view, because author is selling a product, reviewer does not.

    I disagree. Reviewers are “selling” themselves, the credibility of their opinions, to the reading public. Just because a service is free or unpaid does not mean the people/entities providing that service are beyond challenge or reprimand.

    For the record, I agree with Maili that astute readers “see through” a review when it is overly generalized and not very specific. Who comes across as more credible, a well-written review featuring quality analysis of the book’s elements and why (in the reviewer’s opinion) they worked or didn’t work, or vague, generalized comments that leave room for doubt the reviewer is thoroughly familiar with the book at all?

    All opinions are not created equal.

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  65. Author On Vacation
    Nov 28, 2010 @ 16:39:56

    @Maili:

    What I'm saying is, I suppose, I don't see how reviewers can be ‘liars' or deceitful when it's their credibility on line. Authors' views are, I'm sorry, irrelevant in this case. Readers matter more because it's their money that's on the line.

    If a reviewer claims a book contains A, B, and C, and the book does not contain A, B, and C, the reviewer is not telling the truth.

    If readers choosing to rely upon reviewers really care about their book-buying dollars, they care about having realistic, articulate, well-planned and supportable reviews prepared by qualified individuals with the aptitude to read and comprehend an entire book and to provide a fair, reasonable analysis of what they read.

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  66. Robin
    Nov 28, 2010 @ 21:57:38

    I’m always amused (not really) when people think Jane has all the time in the world to read books she hates just so she can review them on DA.

    I cannot count the number of books I’ve read that I haven’t liked just because I feel the need to finish or because I want to see if the author can turn it around — or, sometimes, because I get curious about just how bad it can get.

    IMO good reviewing isn’t simply about providing a yay or nay on a book; it’s also about discussing how a book handles, fits into, and diverges from genre and how it handles or doesn’t handle issues the reviewer finds relevant. Sometimes you find yourself reading the same device over and over, for example, and a book comes along that just perfectly illustrates something you want to say about it. Or maybe it deals with an issue you find important in a way you find problematic. Or maybe it starts off well but ends disastrously. Or maybe it demonstrates craft issues you either would like to see more of or that you’re seeing too much of. There are myriad reasons to review a book you just didn’t like that have nothing to do with the author or the publisher.

    For me, reviewing is a long conversation among many people and many books. So while I get that authors may feel that they or their publisher is being picked on, I also think readers need to be trusted more to a) pick books autonomously, b) read reviews critically, and c) know what works for them and what doesn’t. Whenever these forums on reviewing arises, I feel there is an undercurrent of distrust in reader intelligence and independence, and inevitably it blows back on authors in a way that seems to undermine their intentions and draw more negative attention to the very thing that’s perceived as too negative. And yes, this thread may sell a few more copies of Mating Call, but it’s also far, far more personally directed than the review, IMO.

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  67. Silvia
    Nov 28, 2010 @ 23:22:11

    Jane, thanks for bringing the menage line to my attention, as I like committed menage romances but they’re very hard to find. Though I suppose my problem is still locating the ones that are fleshed out romances instead of erotica. (I’m more interested in the relationship building than extended sex scenes — which can be SO RARE for menage stories. Usually I have to stick with fanfiction to find it, though I’d love to read more published polyamorous novels.)

    Unfortunately this one was a dud, but I’m glad to see menage stories being reviewed at Dear Author.

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  68. Sirius11214
    Nov 28, 2010 @ 23:38:24

    @Author On Vacation:

    Sorry, but I fail to see what is so strange that I would feel cheated if I read the book that I did not enjoy especially if I get this book by what I would consider false advertising? And by false advertising I mean reading the short excerpt which is the most edited, the most polished part of the book and does not tell me anything significant about what the book is. In fact, come to think about that, I find your statement to be patronizing. Of course I read the books which I did not enjoy but I recognised that they were well written and recognized that other reader may enjoy them. It does not mean that *I* was not short changed. If enjoyment is not the only element of entertainment, what are the others?
    As I mentioned above, my most despised romance trope is I rape you till you love me and we live happily ever after. I have bought one book with this trope that I had no idea was in there. (And another which I knew was in there but it is a different story) Was it well written? I thought it was. But every time anybody brings this book it makes me so so angry because I feel that author and her publishers flat out lied to me. I am not sure how I feel about all those warnings in gay romances, which came from fanfiction days, like m/m sexual practices, anal sex and whatever else publishers put out. However this book contains multiple rapes. Do you think publishers and author felt a need to warn me about it? Not really, no. And I absolutely blame the author, make no mistake here, because the publisher is the group of authors, so yeah, was very annoyed. Do you think the excerpt contained anything to indicate what awaits me? Nope,it did not. I learned the hard way, these guys are not getting a cent of my money ever.

    I was raised to respect books, I always feel that I have to treat printed word carefully and respectfully, I always felt for example that burning books is what barbarians do, I despised this book so much that I would have happily burned it. Do you know how I rated this book on Amazon? Four stars, because I felt that author was skilled in her craft, even though what she put out makes me want to vomit. So, you do not have to tell me that there are books that are well written that other reader may enjoy. But my point is that another reviewer on Amazon gave this book one star, precisely because she was just as repelled by this trope as I did, only she felt that there was no writing skill involved. My point is that as long as reviewer explains why she grades the book certain way, I think review is valid and there is no obligation to be as clear as author wants her to be. As long as reader can understand the reviewer’s reasoning and decide what to do with it, I think review is good. IMO of course.

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  69. Author On Vacation
    Nov 29, 2010 @ 00:18:09

    @Sirius11214:

    Author on vacation, have you responded to this review correcting it? I usually roll my eyes when author responds to negative review, because they have self serving interest in doing so and I highly unlikely to even consider supporting them, but I fully expect and will cheer on the author who will respond with factual correction of such review.

    Sorry, I missed this.

    I opted not to contact the review site because the review site already had a disclaimer posted in its FAQs that it does not remove reviews. I saw no point in contesting something upon which I couldn’t affect change.

    As to the “incest accusation,” I’ve no idea why the reviewer claimed the novel contained incest. I was baffled enough to go back and re-read the entire novel (over 90k word count) to try and find out what the reviewer might have perceived as “incest.” I don’t know what s/he meant.

    I’ve considered the possibility the reviewer may have been reading more than one book at the time and perhaps got my novel confused with a different book. Given the extreme brevity of the review and the generalized, non-specific language combined with the false incest allegation, I concluded the reviewer either confused my book with someone else’s OR the reviewer never read the book at all. The review made no mention of any of the characters, events, or any other information in the book.

    In any event, I cited the example not to bash reviewers or whine that my book was wronged. My point was simply that amateur reviewers don’t always do justice to their work and smart readers should keep that in mind when they are browsing.

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  70. MaryK
    Nov 29, 2010 @ 00:55:53

    @Merrian:

    Dear Author is one of my go to sites for reviews because my mind works in the same way theirs does. Yet ‘A' reviews from SBTB often don't work for me.

    I’m the same way. :D I recently ordered new (O_O) a book SB Sarah gave a C to. ;-)

    It’s not about the grade, really. It’s about the reasons a reviewer gives for liking/not liking a book. Even a reviewer who isn’t a good match for me can write a review I can use.

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  71. Author On Vacation
    Nov 29, 2010 @ 01:06:28

    @Sirius11214:

    If enjoyment is not the only element of entertainment, what are the others?

    Learning and intellectual evolution, exposure to a new voice, new ideas. Sometimes there’s pleasure to be had in reading beyond one’s comfort zone and preferences, just a sense of accomplishment and achievement in discovering something “new and different.”

    I didn’t read many westerns until recently experiencing a great western romance. I’ve always thought cowboys were sort of lame and unappealing. In the hands of the “right” author, though, I come to really appreciate them.

    I understand your repugnance for the “rape romance” trope. I am not always put off with lack of consent or dubious consent if it makes sense (i.e., say in a historical novel featuring an arranged marriage or a marriage of state.) But the author has an uphill battle redeeming those types of scenarios.

    I apologize you found my comments patronizing. Like you, my entire family nurtures a deep, loving respect for books. It isn’t my intent to treat you rudely.

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  72. Monday Morning Stepback: On Reviewing Conspiracies… | Read React Review: Rethinking romance and other fine fiction
    Nov 29, 2010 @ 06:20:09

    [...] conspiracy was floated by Author on Vacation, at Dear Author, in response to a negative review of Mating Call by Gail Stanley (comment #42): The fact is I don't need a stranger to tell me what's good reading or not. [...]

  73. SIrius11214
    Nov 29, 2010 @ 09:15:41

    @Author On Vacation:

    Interesting. I read across the genres and romance is the last genre I would read to learn something, but we all have our own preferences of course. For me, if I do not enjoy romance, if I cannot relate to the main characters, if I do not feel their joy, their pain, etc, etc the romance book is complete failure (for me of course). I want it to be well written of course, but that to me falls under enjoynment.

    Yes, I despise the trope, but to go back to the review which this thread was discussing, I just want to compare how blurb in that book I mentioned did nothing for me in fact hid what I consider would have been the deal breaker for me whether to buy or not to buy the book, and Jane’s review *saved* me from buying the book, literally saved. But again I am a wierd reader in a sense that I mostly look for facts and even spoiler facts in the reviews, I love spoilers, to me journey does not get less exciting if I know where I am arriving.

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  74. Author On Vacation
    Nov 29, 2010 @ 10:44:58

    @Author On Vacation:

    Interesting. I read across the genres and romance is the last genre I would read to learn something, but we all have our own preferences of course.

    I’m sorry, perhaps you misunderstood my point. Romance novels aren’t substitutess for textbooks. That doesn’t mean one can’t learn something from a well-written, well-researched novel. I would never have developed interest in Ovid, for example, without reading mention of him in Anne Rice’s “Pandora.”

    My hobby reading list is quite long, and it includes works often utilized as textbooks in various history classes.

    Although the recent trend introducing mythological figures into urban fantasy and paranormal romance doesn’t appeal to me personally, I think it’s wonderful some authors are offering classical figures exposure to readers who may feel some prejudice against classical reading. Who knows? Maybe a Sherrilyn Kenyon fan is willing to tackle Bulfinch or even Homer.

    For me, if I do not enjoy romance, if I cannot relate to the main characters, if I do not feel their joy, their pain, etc, etc the romance book is complete failure (for me of course).

    I agree character development is very important, as is emotional depth in a good romance. I don’t have to like a character to consider the character well-drawn, though.

    Static characters also interest me, especially in shorter fiction. I don’t have to like or personally identify with characters in order to recognize an author knows how to craft good characters.

    I am a wierd reader in a sense that I mostly look for facts and even spoiler facts in the reviews, I love spoilers, to me journey does not get less exciting if I know where I am arriving.

    I’m not against spoilers, either, provided the spoilers are accurate. If a reviewer claims a book contains particular elements it does not contain, people attracted to those elements may feel “duped” if they purchase and read the book.

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  75. Jackie Barbosa
    Nov 29, 2010 @ 11:00:23

    @Maili: FWIW, most of the authors I’m friends with think Klausner is a joke.

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  76. Angela James
    Nov 29, 2010 @ 13:02:35

    @Silvia: I’m interested in your statement about finding good menage in fan fiction. Do you have any recommendations or links to some of your favorites? If you’d prefer not to post them here in the comments, you can email me angela_james AT carinapress.com I’d love to see some of what you’ve found!

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  77. cs
    Nov 29, 2010 @ 13:18:27

    @Julia Rachel Barrett: So it’s fine for YOU to call someone else’s book a POS (which I suppose stands for Pile of Shit) but for Sarah to say the word crap in regards to… well crappy books is offensive.

    Wow, take a step back lady.

    FYI: As a paying customer if we don’t like a book, we can call it the back-end of donkey if we want. I don’t care how much you cried, sweated and bleed for that book. If that’s offensive, I could care less.

    Just in case someone forgot, a review is an opinion you don’t agree with it fine. But please stop with the whole author vs. reviewer thing. It’s getting old. Every single time someone goes below a C DA erupts with “how dare you” – dance to a new tune.

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  78. Isobel Carr
    Nov 29, 2010 @ 13:31:19

    @Jackie Barbosa:

    most of the authors I'm friends with think Klausner is a joke.

    That would be every author I know. HK’s reviews are sloppy and unprofessional at best. I've never seen an author puff one off, quote it, or even refer to it (though I'm sure someone, somewhere has done so).

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  79. Jackie Barbosa
    Nov 29, 2010 @ 13:52:01

    @Isobel Carr: LOL, I only said “most” because I don’t supposed I’ve canvassed *every* author I know as to their opinions of Klausner. I suppose it’s remotely possible I’m friends with an author who actually places stock in her reviews, but I kind of doubt it. As far as I can tell, she just reads the back cover copy for the book, rewords it, and gives it either 4 or 5 stars. If she does say anything in her review that’s not in the back cover copy, it’s more likely than not to be wrong.

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  80. Silvia
    Nov 29, 2010 @ 15:16:50

    @Angela James: No prob; I’ll send you an email.

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  81. Author On Vacation
    Nov 29, 2010 @ 16:17:46

    @cs:

    Just in case someone forgot, a review is an opinion you don't agree with it fine. But please stop with the whole author vs. reviewer thing. It's getting old. Every single time someone goes below a C DA erupts with “how dare you” – dance to a new tune.

    I don’t regard conscientious, qualified reviewers as the “enemy” of authors. Reviewers incapable of providing sound, fair critical analysis of a book and why the book did or didn’t appeal to them are a nuissance to authors and to readers alike.

    A good book review is not merely an opinion, it is an informed opinion.

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  82. Reader Too
    Nov 29, 2010 @ 16:59:38

    I’ve noticed this three times now and forgot to mention it each time.

    The book cover says: GALE STANLEY

    The review’s title calls her GAIL STANLEY.

    Will one of the Ja(y)ne’s fix this so Miss Stanley can find her review?

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  83. Liz
    Nov 29, 2010 @ 17:26:09

    @Author On Vacation: You said, “Reviewers incapable of providing sound, fair critical analysis of a book and why the book did or didn't appeal to them are a nuissance to authors and to readers alike.”
    I’m still not sure whether you are accusing THIS review of Jane’s of these faults. I wouldn’t.

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  84. Jane
    Nov 29, 2010 @ 18:17:11

    @Reader Too Thanks for pointing this out. Fixed.

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  85. Jane
    Nov 29, 2010 @ 18:20:01

    @Silvia I’d love to know those good fan fic menages too. Can you email me? Jane at dearauthor.com

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  86. Angela James
    Nov 29, 2010 @ 18:22:23

    I’ll forward you the email, Jane, to make it easy!

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  87. Danielle C.
    Nov 29, 2010 @ 19:36:31

    @ Author On Vacation

    Language used to roast my book was very vague and unspecific, which suggested to me the reviewer had not read the novel.

    Another reason – not in the particular case of the review you describe, but generally – might be that not every reviewer is articulate. They know how they feel about a book, but struggle to express mood and emotion in meaningful or intellectual terms. I know I have hit myself on the forehead many times when I see another blogger simply and eloquently phrase something in one sentence that takes me a full paragraph to convey.

    But if they post negative reviews, I at least expect them to be articulate and clear and honest.

    I confess don't see why unfavourable reviews should be required to be written any differently than favourable ones in terms of well-motivated reasons for likes/dislikes. In the first case, if the reader makes a decision based on that one review, the author may potentially lose one or several sales and in the second, one or several readers may potentially waste their money/time.

    As for whether articulateness should be mandatory for everyone who writes a review – no. Some bloggers write simply to share their joy or their frustration with a community of like-minded friends and visitors. The lack of articulateness does not make their thoughts any less sincere. To expect a reader to keep quiet about a book simply because s/he does not write a logical, helpful, coherent review goes against many things but above all the normal need to share, for good or ill. Analytical readers will look elsewhere for reviews (and excerpts, interviews, etc.) that satisfy their decision-making criteria.

    A good book review is not merely an opinion, it is an informed opinion.

    Now with that I can whole-heartely agree.

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  88. Author On Vacation
    Nov 29, 2010 @ 20:25:52

    @Liz:

    @Author On Vacation: You said, “Reviewers incapable of providing sound, fair critical analysis of a book and why the book did or didn't appeal to them are a nuissance to authors and to readers alike.”
    I'm still not sure whether you are accusing THIS review of Jane's of these faults. I wouldn't.

    I commented much earlier in the thread I generally don’t count any of the DA contributors among the “nuissance brigade.”

    In a sense, reviews aren’t much different than books. If a review is convincingly written, articulate, and edited well, I’m more likely to view the reviewer/s (AND the site featuring the reviews/s) as a credible source. If a review is poorly written, badly edited, and lacks support and substance, I tend to think the reviewer either lacks good analytical skills, good written communuication skills, or other attributes essential to producing a “good” review.

    I don’t always like or agree with DA reviews, but I agree with some. I’m a bit put off by DA’s tendency to mock or ridicule books, films, or celebrities they don’t favor. IMHO, this tendency detracts from the site’s professionalism. But when not possessed by the imp of the perverse, the Janes offer excellent insights and opinions, and I enjoy them.

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  89. DianeN
    Nov 30, 2010 @ 10:30:20

    I think something has been largely forgotten in this discussion–namely that reviews are opinions, and we’re all entitled to them. A reviewer, professional or non-, is within his or her rights to read a book, form opinions about it, and post those opinions for others to read. Sure, getting the facts straight is important, but the bottom line for any review is this: “Yes, I liked it” or “No, I didn’t.” If a reviewer helps me to select books I like, I’ll keep reading her reviews. If not, I don’t. What I won’t do is review the reviewer. In fact, I’ll defend his or her right to express opinions about a book even when I find them shoddily written or lacking professionalism or any of the other litany of complaints mentioned in this topic. Free speech, y’all.

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  90. JaKyle
    Nov 30, 2010 @ 15:14:47

    Long time lurker, first time poster. This is an interesting thread and I think we can all agree that not only are books, movies, songs, subjective but so are reviews.

    What one person deems “crap” reading, may be another’s best book they’ve ever read.

    I think the only way to handle any review-good or bad, is to thank the reviewer for taking the time to read the book and move on. If there is incorrect information in the review, the author can privately contact the reviewer to clarify, if the reviewer chooses not to correct this, there’s nothing an author can do.

    Not all feedback will be good, nor will all be bad, and I doubt that any publisher who wants to appear professional and legit will prompt their authors to go on a message board such as this to defend them.

    There are some stellar books published by big houses and also some in small press, there are also not so great books in both types of publishers, but one thing is for sure, there is a reader for every book out there, maybe they don’t run in droves to buy certain books, but an author can’t satisfy everybody anyway.

    I sometimes buy books with real bad reviews, just to see what was so bad about them, sometimes I agree, sometimes I don’t, same goes for books that garner excellent reviews, I may or may not agree.

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  91. Maili
    Nov 30, 2010 @ 15:27:01

    @JaKyle: Please do delurk some more. Great comments.

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  92. JaKyle
    Nov 30, 2010 @ 15:34:36

    @Maili: Thank you. :) It wasn’t as painful as I thought it would be. lol

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  93. Author On Vacation
    Nov 30, 2010 @ 18:05:08

    @DianeN:

    I think something has been largely forgotten in this discussion-namely that reviews are opinions, and we're all entitled to them. A reviewer, professional or non-, is within his or her rights to read a book, form opinions about it, and post those opinions for others to read. Sure, getting the facts straight is important, but the bottom line for any review is this: “Yes, I liked it” or “No, I didn't.” If a reviewer helps me to select books I like, I'll keep reading her reviews. If not, I don't. What I won't do is review the reviewer. In fact, I'll defend his or her right to express opinions about a book even when I find them shoddily written or lacking professionalism or any of the other litany of complaints mentioned in this topic. Free speech, y'all.

    Absolutely. Everyone is entittled to have an opinion. Everyone.

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  94. Author On Vacation
    Nov 30, 2010 @ 18:12:14

    I think the only way to handle any review-good or bad, is to thank the reviewer for taking the time to read the book and move on. If there is incorrect information in the review, the author can privately contact the reviewer to clarify, if the reviewer chooses not to correct this, there's nothing an author can do.

    And by the same token, there’s nothing a reader can do if s/he reads a false or misleading “spoilter” posted by an irresponsible reviewer, purchases the book, reads the book, and discovers the reviewer lied.

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  95. JaKyle
    Nov 30, 2010 @ 19:19:06

    @Author On Vacation: Usually when there is a spoiler in the review, I’ve seen the reviewer post a warning. However, like everything else in life, human error does occur.

    The use of the word “liar” or “lying” in a review sounds like the reviewer purposely wrote something untrue. I’m sure it’s happened, where a reviewer did get some of the details wrong of the plot wrong, again, human error. Or perhaps, as in the case you stated with your book, the perception was that the reviewer felt there was incest involved.

    Every reader will read a passage, a piece of, dialogue, the way the author has portrayed the characters and perceive them in their own way. It is not always the way the author intended. Readers will get different things out of a book, because they will each bring a different viewpoint as a reader, just like authors have their own voice.

    For example: What an author may perceive to be funny, a reader may think is odd. What an author may perceive to be a sexy hero, the reader may think he’s a goon.

    Another example: There was a photo shoot a few years ago of Mylie Cyrus and her dad posing together. Some saw the picture and thought it was a cute pic of a daughter and her dad, some viewed it as being a bit incestuous, because the way the two were posing. Same picture, different view points.

    If bad reviews were a detriment to sales or hinged on obtaining another publishing contract, then the likes of Stephanie Myers, Stephen King, Nora Roberts (to name a few) would never be where they are today.

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