Too Much Stuff?

Feedback on your writing can be — enlightening. So far my worst review has been three stars, but the reviewer was disappointed enough to say they probably wouldn’t read my next book. That kinda hurt. I looked at some other books they had reviewed, and initially, I was surprised that they’d read my book at all. Then it occurred to me that I hadn’t looked at the complete list of their book reviews nor do I have any clue as to how they choose which books to review. Perhaps my surprise was misplaced. The fact that they bothered to write a review at all was good. I’m under no illusion that everyone is going to like my book let alone read it. But, when someone goes to the effort of reading and then posting a review, it makes sense to take that criticism seriously and see if there’s something I can learn from it.

Most of the negative comments have been about my enthusiastic coverage of STUFF. Most of the people making that complaint are women. What’s that mean? It means that not everyone is interested in the same things I am.  Everything the reviewer said was in a way, valid. I do have a lot of words dealing with the minutia of gear – I love that stuff in books that I read, the problem is: It rarely moves the story forward, and there are a lot of people who don’t care for it. I had, I think, good solid rationalizations for each of those little equipment diversions.

Notice I said – rationalizations – not reasons? Well, there are reasons too, but in all honesty, I’m not sure I can judge the difference. I’m a gear junky – I love stuff – it’s sort of a guy thing. So, are my reasons sufficient? So far the guys seem to think so, and the women don’t. I’m not sure the guys would miss it much if I left most of it out.  Should I have left it out? Maybe.  Considering no one said – wow I really love all the detail you put into Ham Radio, or guns, or… Perhaps I spent more time on those things than was necessary to the story. It’s something that I really have to think about going forward.  No matter what – the story comes first.

I’m going to go out on a limb and guess that the reviewer was female, as most of the complaints about radios, guns, tents, and stuff have come from women. Which doesn’t surprise me, what does surprise me is how many women were willing to take a chance on my book. That notion was based on an admittedly small sample size which seemed even remotely interested in the topic.

Live and learn. In only a few weeks I’ve learned that I don’t know my market nearly as well as I thought and that a significant portion of my audience doesn’t share my fascination with STUFF. Also, reading reviews about your work written by total strangers is a lesson in both not letting things go to your head and not getting depressed.  My goal is simple – make the next book better.  That means listening to critical feedback and put the story first.

2 thoughts on “Too Much Stuff?

  1. Kim - Bibliophile 13

    I just left a review on Amazon saying how much I LOVED this book. I can’t wait for the next one! I just want to respond to a couple of your statements in this blog posting. First, I am a woman, and post-apocalyptic fiction is one of my favorite genres – EMP, CME, etc. – NOT zombie, plague, etc. Your book was an absolute breath of fresh air – I honestly think it is one of the best in its genre. A note to those folks who complain about getting bogged down in descriptions of stuff – learn how to skim. You can’t please everyone, but I think it’s good to include the information for those who desire it. There are many people who genuinely thrive on the detailed information about camping gear, radios, etc. I am not necessarily one who likes that detail of description; however, I know how to skim past the detailed parts (leaving them for those who are more interested) and get back to the plot. It’s nice to know the info is there if I ever want to read it as a reference. Thanks so much for a great book! Keep writing!

  2. Denise Jacob

    Loved your book Solar Storm. I’d love to see follow on books, perhaps Exploring Zac’s role from how he met Jack to how he made it back home. Another book could also show how they(Henry, Ray and the gang) managed and what they went through. I look forward to reading more of your books!


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