Historical Romance Readers-Why Ya Gotta Be So Cruel?
Today we have an interview with Award-Winning Author, Samantha Kaye, talking about Historical Fiction, Historical Romance, and her feedback by these different sets of readers.
Grab a glass of French champagne, Samantha, because I'm going to ask you some tough questions!
Kim: Thanks for joining us, Samantha! I know this topic is probably hard for you.
Samantha: It's not as hard as you think. I write because I love to write and if people who review on Amazon feel the need to tell others something about my writing, that's their prerogative. Although I have done a lot of thinking lately about the type of reader who reviews a book with very mean language.
Kim: Let me explain to readers what is going on. Samantha Kaye has two historical novels published, with a third and fourth expected to publish on Amazon before the end of the year. It's a continuing love story that spans several books, am I right so far?
S: Yes, originally the story was written as a huge novel and was an award winner in the Silver Ippy Awards for Independent Publishers.It was over one thousand pages, if you can imagine. I decided to break up the story into more manageable reads and make each book the least expensive I can. The first book is titled AMOUR, the second, Deception, and are about 170 pages each, with a continuing theme and continuing love story.
Kim: You recently went on KDP Select for free days, did very well with a BookBub ad (30,000 downloads) and are now getting slammed in the reviews because the book isn't HEA?
S: I wouldn't say slammed, but there's a number of one star reviews up there recently by readers who expected a stand alone novel with a satisfying conclusion. Most of these reviews don't even mention the history, the characters, the writing, only that it leaves the reader wanting more. And there is more. It's the novel Deception. The second book ends at a slightly more satisfying spot in the story, but like Twilight, the romance is not completely tied up until the final book.
Kim: Did you know before choosing the Historical Romance category for publishing that these readers expected a satisfactory romantic conclusion with each book?
Samantha: I did not. Some reviewers make it sound like I'm intentionally trying to pull a fast one on them. One reviewer even sounded like it was all a grand plot to get more money for my books by keeping everyone hanging. I assure you that was never my intention. I write very long books, and have kept the price low so readers can buy the next one, and the next one. When this story was one long book, it cost $8.99. Each book is much, much less.
K: 99 cents?
S: Yes, and soon I hope to make the first book, AMOUR, permanently free. I'll probably get blamed by someone for trying to hook readers in on the first one just to get their 99 cents for the next ones. I'm baffled. Isn't this publishing business just that? A business? Of course we are trying to sell our books to readers. Do other authors get chastised because they write compelling stories that continue? I wonder.
K: Let's talk about the review by the person who said she wouldn't even download the free book after reading that it dealt with racism.
S: She said she wouldn't buy the free book because it is an insult to people of color. She deduced this by the description that the story deals with the theme of a "mixed" romantic couple in the 1780's in Haiti. I mention that my hero has "tainted blood" but I'm writing from the perspective of the French aristocracy and how they see Nicolas Montferraud. Being tainted is exactly how mixed race was seen in those days. This creates a formidable obstacle for a romantic couple to overcome if they don't want to cut ties with their families and live the life of ostracized pariahs. The irony about this accusation is that I'm not without some "tainted blood" myself and I believe the reviewer took one look at my author photo and jumped to conclusions. Several other reviewers came to my defense and criticized the reviewer for not even reading the book. Why is it that people can review without having bought or read the book and anyone who has the same name as someone you mentioned in your acknowledgments cannot? Amazon needs to get on that.
K: Another reviewer said the continuing story was "unacceptable adult behavior" and called you a lazy author for not finishing the book. The book was a "ripoff" How does that make you feel?
S: I try to not read them now. (laughing) You either love my style of writing, or you hate it with a fury, it seems. It's the French historical way of writing. I'm an historian. I have a degree in this, have studied French History my whole life and this is how I write. The names of the characters are long, the prose is flowery, the descriptions involved. Many praise me for these same things.
K: Did you remove AMOUR from the category Historical Fiction?
S: Yes. I found a category more appropriate, I believe. It's over here.
K: How many books are in Passion and Glory and what is your timeline for publication?
S: There are 5 books. I've made the final two longer so that anyone who is reading because they are interested in the story, will probably be invested at this point and won't criticize me for a long book. The historical fiction readers originally said it was too long and that I should market to a wider audience, one that included romance readers, the romance being such a strong theme in the book. So I did.
Another question I'd like to ask is when did it become a personal affront to write a continuing series? Regardless, I've made the books affordable so anyone who loves the story (and there are many--thank goodness!) can continue to read.
K:I noticed that you have either 5 star reviews by people who totally understand your book and love it and then these 1 star reviews. Why is there very little in between?
S: I'm not sure, but I believe the historical fiction readers love the book, and some readers who got it for free hoping for the typical formulaic historical romance, do not. Or liked it so much that they were furious at the end because it doesn't conclude. I now understand that romance readers (who are faithful book buyers) have expectations of a happily ever after among other things. That's why I switched categories to historical fiction and to African American history. I'm still hoping for some historical romance readers even though I'm hesitant now to use the words "Romance" and "Historical Romance" if they carry such expectations.
K: Do you think that some of the one star reviewers were angry because they liked the story so much and had to wait for the next book? There was such passion in those reviews.
S: My wonderful writer friends and reader fans have said this. As a precaution, I've put a disclaimer at the top of all my books' descriptions to warn readers that it's a continuing love story, so I can only hope that those readers don't buy my book, or at least don't feel the need to review if they think they were left hanging.
K: Thanks for coming today and good luck with the series. I loved the first two books and am anxiously waiting for Courage, release date November 15th.
S: Thanks for having me. Merci beaucoup.
Look for Samantha Kaye's novels on Amazon. AMOUR and Deception