Parsing Reviews

Crystal Blade Episode 13: Question Authority is now available at Vella. Go do the thing.

So let’s talk about reviews. Unlike a lot of writers, I do read my reviews (mainly because I have to post links to a review on the relevant book’s page here). I try not to let the bad ones bother me because everyone is entitled to their opinion and my stuff isn’t going to appeal to everyone. More importantly, over the years I’ve gotten a fairly good handle on how to parse them.

Like in the case of Shifter Woods: Claw. So far it’s gotten three four-star reviews. All of the reviewers liked the story, they didn’t have anything negative to say about it, which *phew.* But the fact that the last and longest entry in the Esposito County Shifters series has only been getting four stars instead of five tells me that I screwed up somewhere.

And I think I know what I did wrong. The original plot of Claw was for the FMC Angela to have no idea what shifters were and to find out to her shock that she was half-shifter when she wound up in Esposito County. But when I was working on the outline I realized I would have to spend a lot of time on her coming to grips with her ancestry and learning about shifter culture for the story to make sense. There was no way I could cram all of that AND a romance into a novella. And the whole point of the Shifter Woods novellas was that they were novellas, meant to be read in an afternoon.

So I pivoted. Angela now knew about her shifter heritage but for Reasons™ had never shifter or interacted with other shifters. And even then I had to skip over a whole two weeks of activity in order to keep the story novella-length.

That … was a mistake. I should have just let the story be as long as it needed to be, cover the events of the intervening two weeks, and give it a richer, fuller feel (in my head there were coffee dates with the MMC Matt’s beta, there were goofy but sweet little interludes with Matt, and Angela coming to terms with her mother’s decision to eschew shifter culture). Even with my edits I missed the novella cutoff and turned Claw into a (very, very short) novel at 42,000 words; in hindsight it really should have been around 60K at the least. But I needed to get it out ASAP so I bit the bullet, and I think that’s why it’s only getting four stars instead of five.

The nice thing about being an indie author is that I can revisit this story at some point and add in those missing two weeks. Not now, mind you—I have to finish Crystal Blade and get to work on High Tide/Hurricane Warning (looking at you, Susan). But if I can carve out some time late in the year, I will see about revisiting Claw and expanding it the way it deserves.

About Nicola Cameron

Nicola Cameron has had some interesting adventures in her life -- ask her sometime about dressing up as Tietania, Queen of the Bondage Fairies. When not writing, she wrangles cats, makes dolls of dubious and questionable identity, and thanks almighty Cthulhu that she doesn’t have to work for a major telecommunications company any more (because there’s BDSM, and then there’s just plain torture...).

Posted on May 5, 2023, in Crystal Blade, High Tide, Hurricane Warning, Shifter Woods: Claw, Vella. Bookmark the permalink. Comments Off on Parsing Reviews.

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