The bitter truth is no matter how good I think a book is, others need to think the same before it ends up on the shelves, and even after it sells, the strange up-and-down journey only continues. Some readers love it. Others do not. One review gives it five stars, another two. Oy.
This past week, I got a slightly hotter than lukewarm review for my most recent book, ART OF LOVE. The reviewer noted that the scholarly disputes...so much a part of university life...bogged down the story. Pretty much what I expected. I knew the disputations were too complicated when I wrote it, but I decided not to care. It was the book of my brain, not the book of my heart. For me, it worked because:
- It's historically accurate. This was the life of a medieval scholar.
- I over enjoyed the endless philosophical readings necessary to craft the disputes and make sure my hero won.
- Writing the story allowed me to pretend to be as smart as my characters (believe, I'm not) and imagine what it would be part of such a vibrant time and atmosphere.
So, yeah, I knew readers would likely enjoy that part of the story less. They read to be entertained, after all, but I'd hoped the story would deliver on the romance and entertainment. And based on the rest of the review--and reader letters--it did.
One reader wrote: "I finally completed 'Art of Love.' It was complicated and wonderful." She read it while visiting her husband in the hospital after he had a heart attack. It took her mind off her own worries--and that, to be honest, is the real goal in writing. To touch someone's life, if only for a little while.
Oh, and the next story is more emotional and less cerebral, much less.