John Locke writes in his book, How I Sold 1 Million eBooks in Five Months, that the fastest way to get a bad review is to have a reader review your work who is not from your target audience.
I’ve received two lukewarm reviews from a couple of kind reviewers since yesterday, one calling my novel, Vampire Road, a “slow but interesting read,” a review that can damn a novel to oblivion. The other complemented my writing but titled her review: “A good book but just not for me.”
That’s when I first realized that I’d asked the wrong audience to review my novel. I’d asked fans of the vampire genre to review it, and now-a-days that means fans of romance. The big clue came from reviewer asanders, who openly wished there was more romance in the novel. Reviewer Karen West felt there was too much fighting. Of course there was too much fighting if you’re looking for a romance. I apologize to both reviewers for asking them to read a novel that, despite the title, is outside the vampire genre.
Vampire Road is about war, not romance, which is why it will appeal more to the zombie fans than the vampire fans. These aren’t sparkly vampires who are desperately in love with teenage girls. These are murderous vampires out for blood, but unlike zombies they are still just as cognizant as they were when they were alive. They can plan offensives, set traps and conduct war on a large scale. They can think ahead and react to situations. They can be afraid.
My chief concern with this novel is that people will describe it as relentless and complain that it has too much action. Fitz, the lead character, is fighting someone or something in almost every chapter of the novel. It takes place in an isolated fortress under siege, so all anyone there is concerned about is surviving to the next day. Romance is just too far from their minds.
If you lived in condo tower and woke up one night to the smell of smoke, would you spend anytime making moves on the woman in 4B or would you just help her get the hell out? If you’re a half-way decent human being, you’re only concern will be to get out with as many of your neighbors as possible, including the grumpy old lady down the hall with the yappy dog.
Fitz’s and his friends are in jeopardy for the whole novel, and while his young hormones are in full flow, he simply hasn’t the time for the delicate dance that is the human mating ritual.
Reviewer asanders also complains that when romance finally does occur, it’s almost an after thought, and she’s right. My characters have been up and fighting for their lives for over thirty hours. When the chance for sleep comes they seize it, and even if they’re sharing the same bed there isn’t going to be much going on besides snoring.
I thank my reviewers for giving their time and energy to Vampire Road. I think their reviews are fair and genuine. Better yet, they have help me define my true audience.