Thursday, January 1, 2015

The Importance of Readers’ Reviews

When I started writing novels (after almost a hundred short stories), I decided I wanted to examine the cultural position of gays from both a historical and a contemporary viewpoint. My Cut Hand series (Cut Hand, River Otter, Echoes of the Flute, the upcoming Medicine Hair, and the in-progress Wastelacapi … Beloved) take the historical approach. My two contemporary novels, The Victor and the Vanquished and Charlie Blackbear, address the other side of the equation. I also have another contemporary novel, Johnny Two-Guns, in the offing.

One of the things that keeps me writing (besides needing to make life interesting enough to live) is the reaction of my readers. You guys have been great at keeping the creational blood pumping. Your comments are generally supportive and make a real difference in my life.

So when I went to Amazon’s Author Central the other day to check on my new book, Charlie Blackbear, I got my come-uppance. There were two reviews, one a Four-Star, and the other a One-Star. The handle of the One-Star reviewer was familiar to me, causing me to search all of the customer comments posted by Author Central.

The reader, qbs, had written three other reviews on my books, all Five-Star and very positive. He began one review with: “If Wilder writes, I read …” Now he begrudgingly awards Blackbear the lowest rating possible, saying he was so disappointed he didn’t even finish the book.

This caused me to stop and think. What was there about Charlie Blackbear that so turned off this valued reader? It couldn’t have been the “contemporary” approach, because qbs awarded V&V five stars. So what was it?

Charlie Blackbear is a different cat from my other protagonists. He’s a high-school dropout living on a small Indian reservation who loves chasing … and catching … women. His attitude is totally different. He spits in the face of society and does what he does best: drink booze and chase females. His awakening to the other facets of life (both his sexuality and what life can really offer a young man) takes place slowly. He is genuinely shocked when he falls half in love with Boots, a saucy, damaged divorcee and head-over-heels in love with his childhood friend, Daniel Warhorse. From a state of total confusion, he fights his way back to reality and accepts his bi-sexuality. Under Daniel’s influence, he begins to order his life in such a way that it becomes meaningful. We even meet Wilam Greyhorse and Joseph Sixkiller from V&V briefly.

After my own review, I sincerely believe that Blackbear is as good a story as V&V. I wish qbs would pick up the book he’s already purchased and finish the novel. Then I would be genuinely interested in his opinion.

What say, qbs?

Thanks, guys. Keep on reading.


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