What You Can Learn about your Market from Reviews.

Yesterday I got a very interesting email from a potential reviewer.

Hi David,
I’m sorry to say I will not be able to write a review for you book. To be honest I just couldn’t get through it. I think you lost me the first time when you said “damn Gringos”. Still I continued to read. Up until you let Charley run away and didn’t go after him. That’s just cruel. I was glad when Charley showed back up with the kids, but then you started going off in a different direction and lost me again. I get that a book is supposed to draw emotions from the reader. You have done that, unfortunately it is not emotions I want to feel when I’m reading a book about dogs or puppies. I can only hope that Charley became one of the family in the end.
I just can’t add my name to a review for a book I didn’t enjoy. I can not tell people to read a book I don’t believe in. 
Damn, there is just so much to learn about the audience´s perspective in this letter.
So first and foremost I have to realize that the ´Politically Correct´ criteria is wholly in play.  Apparently, although dislike of Americanism is a common trait within Mexico and many other countries, if you create a character who isn´t PRO US, you risk losing your US audience.  At the very least a few of them.  This never crossed my mind.

I have read a bunch of novels that don´t portray some Mexican people in a very good light but wasn´t offended – as for my birth home Canada?  Well what can you say negative about Canadians?  Never been in that situation.

Added to that is the fact that aside from the US critisism being very tongue in cheek, it wasn´t a critisism of American people at all but the US cultural dominance of the world, mostly through film.  No offense to anyone intended but I truly believe the world would be a better place without so much JUNK culture.  A world without Kanye West and Sponge Bob would be no worse in my opinion.  But I digress.

This is a fictional character that is supposed to represent a stereotype and have stereotypical ideals and opinions.  These opinions are contrived and exist to make a point about the overall story.  That seems to have fallen flat with the reader.  I have to assume then that many readers are going to share the bias or taboo that if you say anything against the US, they are going to bolt.  After all, the biggest marketplace is the US.  Note to self, leave the Americans alone.

Another issue I found with this email is that the reader didn´t like the way the story played out.  ¨That´s just cruel.¨  This one again astounds me.  The story is about a father that just can´t live with his kid´s dog and does everything to get rid of it.  He eventually succeeds, only to have the dog return at a crucial moment in the family´s lives.

What got me was the idea that someone would shun reality, in a literary sense would prefer to keep their heads stuck in the sand and not think about the fact that this goes on every day – not only in Mexico but all over the world.  Millions of dogs are put down by the dog catcher every year.  Once a dog goes to the pound, its chances are very slim it will ever come out.

So I guess there is an element that just doesn´t want to deal with that.  I have decided that rather than lighten up my subject matter, I will have to redo my Author page on Amazon to reflect the fact that my stories are not all ´La di da´ happy little puppy stories.  They are gritty, dirty reflections of the world of dogs and the hell we humans tend to put them through.

And finally the emotional element.  Apparently I succeeded in arousing an emotional response.  Again, it seems evident that some people will psychologically turn off their emotions – I guess this is a relfection of a person´s psyche.  Who knows?

Regardless of how absolutely ridiculous I thought this reviewer´s reaction to my book  was, it is all food for thought.

David Gordon Burke
Find my books here.  


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