Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Eye of the Beholder

As I've only recently dipped my toes in the erotic romance waters, I'm still surprised by some of the things I find. The latest puzzle is over how differently reviewers and readers rate erotic romance books.

Take a really well known/revered author like Megan Hart. She's sold thousands upon thousands of books, has a hard core fan base, and still the majority of her books are rated an average of just over 3 stars at places like Goodreads. I know reader taste is highly subjective, but I find it swings even more wildly in erotic romance.One reader will give a low rating because the story wasn't kinky enough. Or romantic enough. Another will hate it because it was too kinky/harsh. Others will love it and rave to all their reader friends. I don't know why this is, but I have a theory.

There's such a huge range of tastes when it comes to sex and sexy books, it makes it impossible for an author to please the palate of every reader. Are erotic romance readers tougher on books than readers of non-erotic romance? Something that always surprises me is when someone gives a low rating on a novella because they felt it was too short. If something important is missing from the story or character development, I can understand. But giving a book a low rating simply because you felt it should have been longer? That mystifies me.

To sum it up, I think it's even tougher for an author to get rave reviews with erotic romance because people's tastes and expectations are just so incredibly varied. Is it just me, or have you noticed it too? I'm bracing myself for criticism as my upcoming releases approach.


Wynter Daniels said...

I haven't really noticed this before. Maybe because almost all my work is erotic and I am used to it. But I haven't seen that wild fluctuation much on reviews of my books. I have lost points for a book being too short even though the page count is clearly stated.
I have confidence that your erotic books will receive high praise because you are just that talented.

Callie Croix said...

Is it just me then? Seems like it's tough to find an author with consistent "grades", if you will.

Maybe it's just the case with the authors I've checked out so far?

Oh, and um, thanks for the vote of confidence :)

Naima Simone said...

Hi, Callie!
I have to agree with you about the range of reader reviews. It can swing between too vulgar or too would think they were rating two different books! LOL! On one of my books I received a comment about having too much sex! And on the same book it wasn't kinky enough! I never thought about your take on why, but I'm inclined to agree. Sex--and what is sexy--varies so while one person may like a little BDSM, another person's issue may be it was too little BDSM! But oh, wow! You said it, sister! I've had reviews state it was too short when the word count was clearly stated! Another clue? The book is $1.99! LOL!

Don't brace yourself for criticism, Callie! Prepare yourself for the awesome reviews and responses you will receive!!

Dalton Diaz said...

Great post, Callie! Yes, it is extremely frustrating to get a bad review based on the length of the book. Quickies and their ilk are called that for a reason, and they're a lot less money for a reason - to give the reader a chance to check out the author. A tidbit introduction that goes beyond the blurb to see if the style and voice is a fit. That's always been my understanding.

Callie Croix said...

Naima, I knew there had to be someone else that thought the same thing ;)

Getting a low rating on a novella because of length is frustrating. And you're right, the word count and price point should have been dead giveaways to the reader.

Can't please everyone, right?

Callie Croix said...

Dalton, I agree. As long as the story arc/plot threads are tied up, the length shouldn't matter.

Unless I'm looking at it the wrong way. Maybe I should take it as the reader saying they wished it was longer because they loved the characters/story and wanted to read more about them? Hmm...yeah, maybe we should go with that.

Jina Bacarr said...

Callie, there's also a fine line between erotica and erotic romance. If a reader is expecting a romance and hot sex and all they get is hot sex...well, they feel something is missing and their review may reflect that.

Like ordering a hot fudge sundae and they forgot to add the whipped cream and cherry on top...

Michelle Polaris said...

Since there is no formula to please everyone I'd say just please yourself. If you like what you wrote (and your editor liked it enough if you are not self-pubbing) then let it all go. We'll end up tearing out our hair if we try to figure it out.

Callie Croix said...

Jina, that's an excellent point! Actually, sometimes it's really tough to discern whether a book is erotica or erotic romance. Not all publishers make it clear in the cover/metadata. That's a toughie for readers.

Callie Croix said...

Michelle, it's perplexing to me, for sure. I'll try to resist the urge to pull my hair out, though.

I was thinking the same thing about the shorter length stories that have been pubbed by a publisher. If an acquiring editor loved it enough to contract it, and they didn't ask for any major changes to length/story arc, then the author must feel pretty confident that the story is okay as is. Yes? It's just that a lot of readers won't see it that way.