What I'm reading: Angle of Investigation by Michael Connelly (Nook); A Simple Winter, by Rosalind Lauer (bike)
I know some of you read my post last week at Jenny Milchman's blog about writing outside the box, or at least outside some of the genre conventions proscribed by the print publishing industry. If you haven't read it, you might want to pop over, as today's post is related to that one.
I got an email from the publisher of my upcoming Blackthorne, Inc. novel, ROOTED IN DANGER, that my ARCs (Advance Reader Copies) were being shipped. These are the final galleys, printed in trade paperback format. It's the last chance to read the book for any errors, and these are strictly errors of the typographical kind.
But what raised my concerns was the spreadsheet she sent of the reviewers that the publisher has sent ARCs to. (Or, to whom/which the publisher has sent ARCs if you're not into ending a sentence with a preposition.)
A little history: Last year, Five Star discontinued its Expressions line, which published romance. My first two Blackthorne, Inc. books were under that imprint. However, they said they would also look at romantic suspense under their mystery line, so I sent them ROOTED IN DANGER, which they bought.
Their target market is libraries, and as such, reviews are the biggest selling point for library acquisitions. Without a review by one of the major review publications (Library Journal, Kirkus, Publishers Weekly, or Booklist, many (I might say most) libraries won't buy the book.
Now, although the publisher is sending ARCs of ROOTED IN DANGER to these publications, they're now sending them to the Mystery reviewers, not the romance reviewers. Also, the reviewers are by no means obligated to read, much less review, the books they receive. Most will go by the blurb to see if it catches their interest.
ROOTED IN DANGER is clearly a romance much more than a mystery. The quality of the writing (at least I hope) is as good or better than the first two Blackthorne, Inc. books. That's part of growing as an author. But will the reviews reflect this? Will the be fair in that the reviewers are going to be looking at the book with their mystery filter in place. Even though readers may love the book, if it's not in front of the right people, it's not going to matter.
Should the publisher have sent this book to the same reviewers she sent the other one? I don't know. But it's another example of how a label influences opinion. If I'm reading a romance, I want a romance. If I'm reading a mystery, I want a mystery. If I'm reading romantic suspense, I expect both…but if my job was to review mysteries and someone sent me a romantic suspense, I'm not sure whether I'd pick that book out of a stack of "pure" mysteries.
Just as readers have expectations, so do reviewers.
I questioned the publisher. We'll see how they respond. It does neither of us any good if the book isn't read and reviewed by the people who have the influence to get it out on the shelves.
Tomorrow, my guest is Jacqueline Corcoran, who's going to explore the differences between screenplays, plays, and novels. Don't miss it.
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