My E-mail to An Author - Not For The Faint Hearted
Dear Ms Author
"I recently read your book "Book1", and I would like to congratulate you on writing, what for me personally, had to be the worst book I’ve read in over ten years. I like to think of myself as someone who is completely open minded about different genres in books, but I have to say, even I was at a loss to find something positive to say about this story. If your aim for the story was to shock, you certainly achieved that, in spades.
This book was written as a romance, and I for one fail to see how you could classify this story as such. Even the happy ever after tidbit at the end was completely unconvincing, and felt rushed. The entire book seemed to be completely anti-female, and I must admit, I was amazed that this story was ever published as a romance, and more so that it was written by another woman. You seemed to have ignored the whole premise of a romance, which in it’s most basic form is boy meets girls, boy and girl have issues that they must deal with and they fall in love, and live happily ever after. "Book1", in no way came close to fulfilling any of those requirements.
The heroine was tortured, beaten and subjected to intolerable cruelty during most of the book, and she actually didn’t get to meet her hero until near the end of the book. During the first half of the book, the reader is asked to believe that the heroine actually enjoys this treatment, when in fact, at the beginning of the book, you created a heroine that would not have tolerated such cruelty. She obviously went through rigorous training in order to be the perfect sub, but I must say, I was completely unconvinced by the change in personality. You then validated my scepticism, and contradicted the premise of the book by giving her an ending whereby the heroine gets her revenge on the people who ran this operation (this is the same heroine whom you had tried to convince us enjoyed being treated no better than an animal at the hands of these same people)
I felt that you had run out of ideas and of word count by the time this book ended. In all fairness, I tried to get a second opinion on this book by looking for reviews, on the popular review sites, but I was unable to find more than one review, and I believe that review was done by a fellow author, so I was in no way convinced. I then asked other people who had read this book what their opinion was on it, and let me tell you, as many fans as you may have, there are as many people that would have read this story, and judged the rest of your work on the basis of it.
‘My books don't aim to be cruel or to torture women’ This was a direct quote from your website, but honestly if that’s the case, you could have fooled me! I even went as far as to read another of your stories that happened to be in an anthology that I had purchased. The story was called "Book 2", and by the time I’d finished this story, I was convinced that I would never read another Ms Author story ever again."
No doubt most of you will read the above e-mail and be absolutely horrified that I sent it, but I have to say, I have absolutely no remorse in sending it, I wanted to know why this author had written this book and classified it as a romance, because believe me, it may have been erotica, but it wasn't a romance by any stretch of the imagination.
Believe it or not, I got a letter back from this author, which impressed me hugely, because let's face it, many authors would have been too mad to write back, so my hat goes off to this author for bothering to write back (I can imgaine the number of swear words that were deleted when he came to edit this). The following is an excerpt from said author's e-mail reply:
"Karen: I've thought a lot about how to respond to this clearly thoughtful letter. First, I want you to know that I appreciate hearing from my readers -- even if they have some critical things to say. My fear in responding is that I might come across as sounding whiny or defensive. (I rejected my first reaction, which was "Oh yeah....? Oh yeah...?") So at the risk of sounding like I'm being defensive, let me see if I can respond, so that at least you'll know that I read your email.
"Book1" was my first real novel with "publisher1". "Book2" was my first short story. I don't consider either one to be a romance -- I really didn't know what a true romance was back then. They were really more of an erotica, with some romance welded on. I was trying to find my voice, I suppose. I've learned quite a bit about what readers expect from "publisher1" stories in the years since. I like to think that my later books, especially "______" or "_____" are much closer to a true romance, although they might have a bit harder edge than romantic readers might expect. I've also found an outlet for my strict erotica -- selling it to "Publisher2"or "Publisher3" -- so that I can stick with romantic erotica for "Publisher1" and not confuse genres -- or readers.
I know there are women out there who do harbor some fantasies along those lines. If I had "Book1" to do all over again, I think I would've found that middle ground that satisfies those fantasies without going to extremes. And I would've strengthed the romance part by introducing the hero much earlier. I state on my website that I don't degrade women and I suppose those two books violate that philosophy. Perhaps I should give a better warning. My later books I think empower women, even if the characters in them like to be submissive.
I think I was fortunate to have begun with "Publisher1" back when they were first launching in the U.S. I'm sure "Book 1" and "Book2" would've been rejected today. I've learned a lot from my editors and readers since then. I'm sorry you didn't like "Book1", but I hope you don't give up on me entirely. I think you'll find my writing has matured since then.
Thanks, Ms Author
My new marketing slogan: "Book1" - Worst Book in Ten Years! Read it and see if you agree!"
As you can see, Ms Author handled my ultra critical e-mail remarkably well, and gave a detailed and honest account of how this book had come to be. For that alone, I have to admire them, I'm sure you'll be pleased to know that I sent this author an e-mail telling them as much.
Just in case anybody's wondering, If I could go back in time, I would still send that e-mail again. The books were truly awful in my opinion.