So I finally was given access to the reviews of my first three chapters of my book from the Amazon Vine Reviewers last night, and discovered why it didn't advance in the Amazon Novel Breakthrough contest.
Simply put, my book's purpose was communicated successfully to one of the reviewers, who thought the character was bumbling, but in the right way, and seemed in general to enjoy the story, but not to the other, who found the whole thing well-written but boring.
Likely it was that second review that meant the story didn't make it from the top 2000 into the top 500 round.
The difficulty here, is that without names, to make the analogy to American Idol judging, that I don't know the tastes and reading personalities of the reviewers here. While I can likely take something constructive from the second person's critique--after all, it's quite a long one--I suspect that person is simply a bigger fan of action-based fiction. While my story has action in it, it's more of a character-based story than action-based.
This is why I'm glad I've had multiple people I trust read the story and give me feedback--it's given me a better idea of how different types of readers react to elements in my book in different ways. I'm sure I can learn from the one reviewer's critique, as I said, but the fact that the reviews weren't unanimous actually frees me to take what they say with a grain of salt. If you get mixed reviews, after all, it can be a matter of taste behind them. (Plus it helps that I've been on the other side of this process, and know that it's partially about taste anyway.)
Anyway, I wish I had more time to think over my next steps with this manuscript (I've been having some revision ideas for awhile now), but I don't really have a chance to do anything more with it until a few more weeks have passed anyway. So, for now, I must sit back for a moment, respect the reviewers' opinions but not take them too seriously, then get back to thinking about the tasks I need to do and the papers I need to write to finish up this, my last full semester of PhD coursework. (Woohoo!)
One last encouraging thought, though--both thought the thing was well-written, and one of them got what I was going for. Not so bad, really. The manuscript must be worth pursuing in some form for awhile longer.
Friday, April 3, 2009
And What She Found There...
I'm a writer, an incurable reader, a narrative theorist, a media researcher, a scholar/author/writer/consultant, a PK, and the Queen of Soup Making. I write a lot, and I've taught a wide range of topics in universities. Along my journey I've picked up a PhD in Communication from Purdue and 2 degrees in English. I've been turning my ideas about communication as author-audience relationships into a communication paradigm that can be applied to a wide range of situations. I'm also writing a historical mystery series. I'm a member of Sisters in Crime, and the co-chair of the Mystery and Detective Fiction Caucus of the Popular Culture Association. My MA thesis focused on connections between T. S. Eliot and Thoreau, who each wondered about how to remain still and still moving. Before I went to grad school, I spent 7 years working for a division of HarperCollins Publishers.