I originally titled this as: An Open Letter to (insert author’s name), but in the end decided it wasn’t an open letter to her. I wasn’t going to mention anything or touch upon the whole pull from publishing, but I was annoyed this weekend with Michelle Leighton’s announcement. I haven’t read Until I Break, BUT I do trust what bloggers and reviewers have to say.
At times I question the whole feedback process an author receives from beta readers and trusted bloggers. I’m not saying that 100% of the feedback isn’t constructive because I know it is. What I do question, if a lot of readers are writing to tell you that x / y wouldn’t happen in real life, then you have to take a good look at what your beta / reviewers are saying. Ask yourself if you’re receiving constructive criticism and not, “OMG! This is the BEST book ever!” We all want to support our friends who are writers, but if I were an author, I’d want my beta readers, friends, and trusted reviewers to come out and tell me exactly what works and doesn’t. Man up and have the balls to say, “No, I don’t think in real life x, y, z would happen. Maybe change up this to this situation.” Sometimes as friends, we get blinded by how awesome we love their writing and we don’t give the proper critique. Perhaps the situation with Leighton is a consequence of this and maybe it’s not.
Now for the Leighton situation, like I said, I haven’t read Until I Break, but I did skim it (didn’t buy a copy from the mass promo that was done on Saturday to push sales, but borrowed a copy from a friend). For those wanting to know what exactly happens in the book, I’ve placed it under a spoiler tag. View Spoiler » Alec strangles his girlfriend to death while drunk because she asked to be strangled and he’s into dark BDSM. From there he spirals into darker aspects of BDSM. There’s no trial because his father is wealthy and her family doesn’t want her fetish to be out in public and is also wealthy. Here comes along Samantha who writes paranormal romance and herself suffers from past of abuse. Alec mirrors a fictional character she has written until fiction becomes reality. In the end, Samantha has Alec strangle her in an attempt to tie him to her and cue in the happily ever after. « Hide Spoiler
So what’s the exact problem? The ratings on Goodreads and Amazon are pretty good for Until I Break. She has lots of 4/5’s. Doing a search for other blogs with reviews of this book yields again a lot of 4/5’s review. I just can’t help, but think this was a marketing scheme. Were sales not that great for the first week or has interest in the book not been enough? In the end, it’s her decision to pull and I will say this, shame on her if she decides to republish the book in a few weeks or sells the rights because fans aren’t stupid nor will they forget a pull from publishing to get book sales. I’ve also seen a lot of bloggers compare Until I Break to Tiffany Reisz or CJ Roberts and their books. Now I haven’t read Roberts so I can’t compare, but I like to think that Reisz wouldn’t condone this type of behavior seen in Until I Break. Or she would use it as a teaching method. Yes, bad things happen in real life. What does it say about a hero needing to strangle someone even AFTER one death? In real life sometimes closure doesn’t come. In schools across the United States, there’s a warning about the choking game that kids are conducting and so I have to ask this to Leighton: what message are you sending out to women who don’t have an interest in BDSM but their partner does? Is the message to comply in order to keep your man? No one should be uncomfortable in any sexual relationship. Again, I realize I haven’t read the book so if I misinterpret a message, scene, etc I take full responsibility for not reading before writing this. We can also argue that “it’s fiction,” but keep in mind, a lot of people won’t read particular books because they’ve experienced it, etc. Yes, it’s fiction, but for the most part there are subject matters I refuse to read about because when I read it’s to escape the realities of the world. A hero doing exactly what Leighton’s does and doesn’t seek help despite being remorseful isn’t my definition of sexy or swoon worthy. There’s nothing sexy about a woman having to change her beliefs to keep a man.
Ms. Leighton, I’m not a writer and I know that writing requires a thick skin to get through all the blacklash that one receives. Recently Charlene Harris received death threats for the last Sookie Stackhouse book. I will commend you for not lashing out against the readers who didn’t agree with the rest of the 4/5 star reviews. If in fact pulling the book was a marketing ploy for more sales, shame on you! If it’s because you’ve received more hate mail than love, I say, hold your head up high. This isn’t the first nor the last book that readers will hate. Everyone has different tastes and I believe writers learn more from a 3/2/1 review (well those that actually leave a reason other than: this book sucks!) than they do with constant 4/5 reviews. So take the feedback from the low ratings and use it to grow.
As a blogger I worry about pull from publishing because of negative reviews (BTW: Leighton only had 2 negative reviews on Amazon and those were 2 star reviews). I worry other authors will do the same and complain about negative reviews hence a growing backlash against any reviewer giving a book less than stellar review. Granted this type of behavior isn’t new and we’ve seen it time and time again. If an author says exactly the reason they are pulling their book like Leighton posted, what’s to stop a few hundred die hard fans from attacking a less than stellar review and blaming someone for not agreeing with their assessment of a book? Another thing I worry about is, if this was a marketing ploy to boost sales, is this the next big trend we’ll see: limited edition ebooks? Mass hysteria to quickly purchase a copy before it disappears the next day?
What are your thoughts on this situation? Will limited edition ebooks be the next big trend?