Saturday, October 31, 2015

Anticipating A Very Negative Review

Newcastlewest Books has given away advance review copies of books so that the books get reviews before publication. Marketing is very much word of mouth in publishing, and it isn't easy for small publishers to get the chatter going.

So we give away books at places like Goodreads, to reach a wide market. Members can read the book blurb, and if they like what they read, they can easily click themselves into the giveaway.

After that, we publishers sit and wait for the reviews to roll in. Often, the winners don't review the books. Maybe they don't even read them. But a few will take the time to prepare a review and post it so that others who might be considering a book can decide if it might be something they would like as well.

The upcoming release of Sean Gleason's debut novel, SAINTS OF THE NEW IRISH KITCHEN, is getting the giveaway treatment. The first installment of the giveaway, with books going to the States and Canada, garnered a nice response. Our office manager dutifully sent off the copies, and then I got curious.

What sort of reader wanted to win a copy? Are they readers of contemporary fiction, or are they just the sort who like to read whatever is at hand, whether it's the back of the cereal box or the list of ingredients in their morning yogurt.

As it turns out, one winner may have entered the contest because the title says "Saints" so it must be some sort of Christian inspirational thing?

You really can't judge a book by its cover, now, can you.

While the protagonist of the novel, Martie Smurfit, is a religious woman whose loyalty to her patron saint comes through in the story, she is also not exactly straight when it comes to sexual orientation. The plot device that puts the narrative into motion revolves around a reunion with the boy she gave up for adoption as a teen mom, which again isn't what I think of when I think of conservative material.

The saints in this instance refer to both St. Martha, to whom Martie bears a certain level of devotion, and her aunt who allowed her to discover her true nature despite the family's antipathy.

Is that sort of forgiveness considered acceptable? Will this ARC winner be offended by what the story is actually about? Can a fan of Christian fiction be inspired by the 'live and let live' philosophy of those around Martie, or are we about to get a zero star review because Martie doesn't go straight at the end and marry some nice young man who has shown her the error of her sinning ways?

There are always those who don't like a book while others love the same set of paragraphs. Tastes vary, and that is why there are so many genres and so many writers out there.

SAINTS OF THE NEW IRISH KITCHEN isn't Christian fiction in the strictest sense, but there are themes of forgiveness and a strong undercurrent of love for one's fellow human. In a way it is sort of Christian-y. The question is, will it be Christian-y enough to not offend a person who entered a contest and won a copy.

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