Monday, August 27, 2007

The Book that Polarizes.

Oh yes, indeedy. My innocent little tome, Unmasqued, has been gleaning reviews like crazy!

What I've found the most interesting is that, with few exceptions, people either really love it...or really hate it. Since this is my first published erotic novel, I'm new to the game--I assume that's the case with most erotic novels.

It doesn't surprise me at all, though, and I'm actually glad when people post reviews like this on Amazon by Calsgirl:

"If I could give this book ZERO stars - I would!...This book merely takes our beloved characters and puts them into scenes of bondage, whips, chains and sex with no feeling. It is sad that the writer felt they had to put someone having sex onto every other page - - the story line itself (excluding the sex) was not that bad - and the writing was okay - but the calousness [sic] of the sex throughout the book just ruined it! If you like S & M/Bondage and Animal lusts - then you'll just love this book."
A review like that actually sends up a red flag to those readers who aren't going to like the erotic aspect of the book, and helps steer them away. Because, after all, erotica isn't for everyone--and messing with the classics isn't either. Personally, I'd rather have people know what they're getting when they pick up my book.

Here's another one that does a great job of letting people know what they'll find between the sheets of UNMASQUED (a one-star review from Katiebabs):
"...Mrs. Giry is a nympho involved with both of the owners of the opera house. At least the old gal has some fun in this book!
Erik, the Phantom uses a mirror and harp to introduce Christine to his way of teaching. He lurks around the opera house pouting most of the time.

Raoul and his brother Philippe force Christine to have sexual acts with them both at the same time. Big brother Philippe likes rough sex... really rough sex. (He even has a special room for playtime)

And Christine, well she walks around in a sex induced state through most of the novel. With three men following me around, I would also!" did dueling reviews, too, and once again the polarization happens: a 4.5-star review versus a 1-star review.

But here's the thing, and YA Librarian says it perfectly in his/her review on Amazon:

"I find it odd that people's knickers are in a knot when reviewing this book. I'm not sure how this book could have fooled anyone into believing it was a nice wholesome tale about POTO when the title is: Unmasqued: An EROTIC Novel of The Phantom of The Opera. People should know that this book is going to have sex in it; a lot of sex in it and people are having sex with each other in different ways. If you are not a fan of erotica then this may not be the book for you."

Hear, hear!

So, tell me....other Spiced Tea Party you find this kind of polarizing effect on your books because they're erotica, or is it less of an issue because you're not blatantly messing with classics as I am?

And for non-erotica writers....what would make it easier for you (other than labeling a book "erotica") to help you determine whether it's your cup of tea or not?

And finally--don't forget you have until September 10 to use the $1-0ff coupon from Borders for Unmasqued or a host of other books!


Celia May Hart said...

I don't get that so much -- but I do get less than complimentary reviews on occasion about the quality of the sex scenes. I suspect I'm too "vanilla" for some people...

For those who seem to think it a waste of time due to the sheer amount of sex (and generally haven't read the book), my response is, my books have a plot and character growth, so there!

Jane Lockwood said...

He lurks around the opera house pouting most of the time.
For some reason this made me laugh hysterically. I hope it made you laugh, too, Colette. Eventually.

Sophie Athens said...

I thought the exact same thing about your book, just yesterday! How odd that you posted that today...LOL

Pam Rosenthal said...

You can't win 'em all when it comes to sex scenes -- people simply have different needs when it comes to explicitness.

In my case, I think people love or hate my writing based upon their expectations of how to tell a story -- flashbacks, time and p.o.v. shifts, figure-ground considerations especially.

And although the conventional wisdom is that it's best to have people love or hate your work, the truth is that I cry a lot every time I read one of those "say WHAT? you call THAT storytelling?" reviews, and probably always will.

Colette Gale said...

Jane, I've been chuckling at lots of the reviews.

Truly, I have a very thick skin when it comes to this book, simply because I know that erotica isn't for everyone!

In fact, a friend of mine and I were talking about the book today, and she said she hadn't read it yet, but she was looking forward to it--and I went on to basically un-sell her on it. I told her what to expect, because I wanted her to know what she was getting into (so to speak) and I didn't think it was something she would like.

I don't think she's going to read it now. LOL! And I'm glad.

Sophie, thanks for coming by! I'm glad I'm not the only one thinking "why do you think it says EROTICA on the front cover?"

Kate Pearce said...

I wrote you a lovely post, basically saying that if erotic romance/erotica doesn't make people get a bit hot under the collar then you aren't doing your job properly.
You obviously are!
Keep it up.

Rachel said...

Colette, it's really funny that you posted this, because Sarah from Smart Bitches and I had a very lengthy e-mail conversation about the negative reviews for your book. I read it and LOVED it. I thought you did an excellent job of staying true to the spirit of the story. I also thought the writing was beautiful and lush; even the scenes that didn't involve sex were very sensual. So I was very surprised to read so many negative reviews, especially since the things the reviews seemed to hate were the very things that made it erotica! And, as has been pointed out, IT SAYS EROTIC ON THE COVER! What really bugged me (and Sarah) was that one review referred to the characters as amoral. I mean, Phillipe, sure. But Christine? Why? Because she enjoys kinky sex and has more than one partner? I found that a little disturbing. I think a lot of people come to erotica expecting romance novels and are therefore disappointed.
Wow. I don't usually use so many words to say something so small (TM Willow)!