The latest in my ongoing interior monologue on the question I wrestle with every day: Is there a disconnect between what appeals to editors and what appeals to the reading, book-buying public?
I had a nicely successful book by a first-time author in 2012. Success was driven largely (I think) by good reviews and word of mouth. The book has about 60 reviews on Amazon and about 50 reviews on Goodreads.
I was doing a sort of post-mortem on this title, reading over all the reader reviews and trying to suss out... whatever I could suss out. The professional reviews were uniformly positive; the Goodreads and Amazon reviews were the usual mix of 1-5 stars, fortunately heavy on the 3-5 scale.
And what I noticed as I read through the reader reviews is this: So few of them comment on the WRITING. The professional reviews often comment on the craft, at the author's facility with the language or mastery of the genre conventions. Can it be that the "average" reader (if this is an appropriate term to use for the "typical" Amazon or Goodreads reviewer) doesn't give a hoot about the quality of the writing?
Herewith some statistics, based on my parsing these reviews to the best of my ability. Please note there may be some overlap among categories:
AMAZON: 50 reviews
8 commented on the pleasurable writing style
28 said they liked the characters, 4 said they found at least one character annoying or unlikable
16 said it was a fast read
22 liked the setting
36 did not mention writing at all
4 did not like the point of view
3 complained that it was not "realistic"
3 liked the sense of humor
2 seemed to be written by reviewers with a personal vendetta against someone or something
2 do not like reading mysteries (So, I ask myself, Why did they read this book?)
2 thought it would be fun to hang out with the author
GOODREADS: 60 reviews
14 commented on writing
46 said nothing at all about the writing
12 wrote one-line reviews with almost no content
36 rated the book without saying anything else
16 liked the protagonist and/or supporting characters
3 said the setting was not to their taste
8 complained that certain characters were not likable enough
8 said they "cared" about the characters, 6 said they "did not care" about the characters
I guess I could start speculating about what this all means... or I can let the readers of Mysterious Matters do that by clicking on the "Comment" link below!