Friday, February 12, 2010

Okay, so I'm going to talk about this, after all.

I think Amazon Vine is a terrific program, and I'm very grateful that my publisher took the initiative to offer copies of Rock My Socks Off to UK Vine reviewers. It's wonderful to have a publisher who's always exploring ways to get more exposure for our books, and I'm very glad they took advantage of this opportunity to promote RMSO.

The thing about Amazon Vine, though, as I'm learning, is it comes with its own set of risks:

  • Your book will likely be reviewed by people who wouldn't have chosen your book to read, based on their general tastes, had it not been offered as an "assignment."
  • Your book may be reviewed by people who habitually give low ratings to most of the books they review.
  • Your erotic novel may be reviewed by people who generally find erotica unimpressive and uninteresting.
  • Your book may be reviewed by people who not only don't care for what you're doing—which is fine—but who also don't get what you're doing—which is just sad, imo, especially if what you're doing is not particularly inscrutable or esoteric.
Some hints:

If you only like books that are "heavy" in tone and content, you will not like Rock My Socks Off.

If you think banter is a waste of time rather than a means of developing character, demonstrating interpersonal chemistry, and engaging and entertaining the reader, you will not like Rock My Socks Off.

If plot devices like a dysfunctional, specialized museum and protagonists like—OMG—an astronomer(??!!) are too wild and crazy for you to accept ... then I guess you won't like Rock My Socks Off.

Fair enough.

And now I'm done talking about this.


Jo said...

Who doesn't like banter???

Banter is like, the food of love.

Jeremy Edwards said...

Banter is like, the food of love.

I love the way you put that!

Justine Elyot said...

Yes, Jeremy, it's weird, isn't it? I've noticed this with the reviews of Sex, Love & Valentines too. It's been sent to people who never read erotica; whose profiles state that they like sci-fi and historical non-fic; whose wishlists are full of 'How to Get Published' books. You have to wonder how the Vine programme chooses its people - almost every review starts 'I don't normally/would never normally read this kind of thing'. Hmmm.

I'm glad you're seeing this, though, and aren't getting disheartened by the fact that you are getting reviewed by people who don't, and don't even want to, understand what you're doing. These aren't 'bad reviews' per se. They're 'why did you send me this?' reviews.

Those of us who do love your writing! RMSO is still in my tbr pile right now, but I'm eagerly looking forward to it.

Jeremy Edwards said...

Thank you, Justine! : )

You have to wonder how the Vine programme chooses its people

Perhaps Amazon has a shortage of Vine people who genuinely care about erotica. Clearly Lucy Felthouse needs to clone herself!

Danielle said... i m going to find out what banter is!!!

interesting post..will cause a lot my banterless brain...

Justine Elyot said...

An army of Lucy Felthouse clones would be totally AWESOME!

(and I love my word verification - chingym. My chin could use a workout, I'm sure.)

kristina lloyd said...

Ack, how rubbish for you. The Amazon Vine programme does seem to exacerbate the, um, idiosyncratic nature of non-professional reviews.

On Amazon and LoveHoney, I've had reviews saying my work is unreadable, boring, badly written plus one baffling observation that my central character had a weird name. Beth? Since when was that weird? But yeah, an astronomer. Clearly too freaky.

Most people are resistant to erotica so you're already up against a major prejudice when a non-fan gets hold of your book. I'm sure the balance will right itself soon enough and people who don't have something to prove will throw their enthusiasm into the ring. It's still very early days. But yeah, it's a pisser you got Vined.

You are on my TBR pile too and am looking forward to your smart, sexy writing and warm and wonderful characters!

Lucy Felthouse said...

Goodness me - I should think my OH would have a heart attack at the thought of an army of me's.

Anyway, scary thoughts aside, I can shed light on the Amazon Vine thing. I'm a member of the programme, and basically what happens is every member is sent a totally unpersonalised newsletter containing all the products on offer - and they get to choose from it. That is all.

I would hazard a guess that people are choosing the Xcite Books because based on the covers they look fresh and fun - and they're probably not even reading the product descriptions. Hence their shock when they find out they're reading smut! Horrors! I'd love to be a fly on the wall.

That said, I think Amazon Vine is a great programme for getting products known to people - people that wouldn't necessarily choose them - but sadly, you always run the risk of someone with no interest in the type of product getting their hands on it and giving it a poor review.

In some ways, reviewing is a total minefield. I pride myself on reviewing something totally honestly. However, I've had emails and comments from people in the past who have hated the thing I'm reviewing so much that they've actually accused me of being paid by the publisher to write a nice review (check out some of the comments on my Amazon reviews, they're hilarious)! It'd be nice to be that influential - but I'm not. I'm just little old me. And I will continue to review honestly and fairly - and if I say something is rubbish, I hope I say it constructively, which is something my Creative Writing degree taught me.

I think, as a fellow smut writer, as well as a reviewer, that you should only take notice of the opinions of people who actually want to read erotica and have an appreciation of it. Take no notice of the people that don't 'get it.'

I have a passion for reading and writing in general, particularly erotica. I think it's very easy to get erotica wrong - but you, Jeremy, are not guilty of this. Even if people think I'm talking rubbish - just let your writing CV do the talking... short stories in magazines, books, online in a multitude of places. And now your own book.

Stuff em, I say. You're fab, so there. And the rest of my army say so, too. :)

I'll shut up now. Sorry.

Jeremy Edwards said...

Thank you, all!!

KL, I'm sorry you got those bizarre negative reviews ... but it's comforting to know I'm in such illustrious company.

And Lucy, thank you—on top of everything else!—for the inside scoop on how Vine works.

Ooh, and while I was sleeping, another positive review popped up. So now I have "fun-fest/rollicking good romp"; "beautifully written/utterly yummy yumminess" and "reminiscent of Stephen Fry"!

Janine Ashbless said...

"Reminscent of Stephen Fry" is possibly the highest compliment in the Englsh language, Jeremy.

I'd been reading the Vine comments on "Sex, Love and Valentines" the other day ... and practically ALL of them said something along the lines of "these stories are too short for you to get to know the characters." Which, even before you wrote this post, had lead me to very similar conclusions about Vine problem.

Um, guys ... these stories are erotica. They are long enough to achieve exactly what they are supposed to do. You know ... don't you?

Hooray for Lucy!

Jeremy Edwards said...

"Reminscent of Stephen Fry" is possibly the highest compliment in the Englsh language, Jeremy.

Heheh ... I know! My lifetime goal is to get famous enough in the UK to appear on QI. ; )