Bad Reviews: When They Just Don’t Get You

Today I saw that I got a two-star review on Barnes & Noble. Bad reviews always make me unhappy, but this one was particularly puzzling:

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If you can’t see it, it says:

The story starts off great but then you have all the sex scenes
The story starts off great but then you have all the sex scenes written in. I am no prude, but the vulgar terms used don’t enhance the scenes at all. I go for the plot & the romance, not the quickie in the closet w/ four letter words describing the anatomy. Doesn’t anyone write clean romances any more? I may update my rating if I can get back to the storyline without the bleep filter going off in my head. Writer’s take note..you don’t need 4-letter words to sell the book, write a great story!

Isn’t it obvious, by the cover and the blurb text, that it is a sexy book? If that isn’t what you’re looking for, I can understand you skipping it. But to denigrate a book because it is sexy, because that is the market it is aiming for, seems a bit peculiar to me.

I’ve written bad reviews for all kinds of reasons, and certainly this person was well within the bounds of fair play to write an honest, bad review. What I can’t understand is why this book would have appealed to her (I’m assuming it is a woman) in the first place if she disliked sexy words.

My first response is that it was a failure of marketing. But on second thought, you can’t convey EVERYTHING about a book in a cover or the blurb text, so maybe it was a massive success of marketing. As in, the book burst out of the romantic suspense genre and creeped into pure political thriller. That to me is a huge success. The expectations between romantic suspense readers and political thrillers are different, so that could account for the surprise that there was so much sex in At Any Cost.

Also, it has been my experience that more men read political thrillers than women, and men – surprisingly – seem a little put off by graphic language and erotic content in books. If that is the case, it seems a little unfair to dislike a book because that’s not what you expect in your type of book (i.e., it would be unfair of me to expect romantic suspense when I open a Vince Flynn novel.)

This is all just speculation, of course. The reader could be exactly my target romantic suspense reader (and she does say she reads for plot and romance), but just doesn’t care for my use of the word “cock”. If that is the case, I guess it is a matter of taste then.

I welcome all reviews – good and bad – so please don’t think I’m in any way discouraging negative feedback. And I do hope that she gets back into the story. But if she doesn’t, that’s okay too. I know my sex scenes can be a bit graphic. I know some people don’t like them. In fact, someone else on Amazon had the same general complaint, that it was a great book except for all the sex scenes.

I’m not sure how to write romantic suspense without the sex scenes. I’m also not sure I want to.

In any case it is good for me to see these perspectives. I know that my books won’t appeal to everyone, but it can be useful to know why. Therefore, I thank anyone and everyone who has taken the time to write a comment or even just give it a star rating. It means a lot to me and I appreciate it.

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Comments

  1. It’s the only word I find acceptable for male genitalia. Anything else sounds ridiculous.

  2. Cara Ellison says:

    I agree, Katie. It’s a useful word!

  3. jonathan birchley says:

    Absolutely Cara, call a spade a spade, a cock a cock, and a cunt a cunt! And some of the dialogue in “Destiny” isn’t exactly kindergarten material

    I can never understand some people who grab an obviously sexy book, a go see a sexy film, and then complain about the language.

    Perhaps I’d better read it if its as juicy as this reader says!

  4. I suggest a new marketing campaign:

    “Buy At Any Cost – the new sexy word book from Cara Ellison!!!!! Thrills! Intrigue! Suspense! Words that are sexy! Holy hell, this book has EVERYTHING.”

  5. Cara Ellison says:

    LOL, nice one, Nightfly. : )

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