Okay, now that I have entered the world of online promotions, I thought I would share my thoughts on the matter. First off, for the most part, I was thrilled with the response I received. I went from 7 followers on twitter to 479...amazing, I know. And my author page on Facebook went from 40 likes to 566 (32 of those came from a Facebook ad that I recieved for crossing over the 50 likes mark.) I also gained about 300 additional to-reads on Goodreads. The book blast and blog tour did just what it promised - it put my name and my novel out there. What that means in terms of sales, I won't know for some time. Authorhouse pays royalties quarterly, so I will not know if I had an increase of sales until I receive a check sometime towards the end of summer.
For the most part my reviews were overwhelmingly positive, which did my heart and confidence good. I had only one review that I considered bad (I'll talk about that one in a minute) and one that was so-so (again I'll talk about that one in a minute). All of the rest were 4-5 star ratings. Here's some of the comments that I liked the best.
1. Finally a novel that doesn't skirt around the issues, pretending life is full of rainbows and butterflies.
2. This story makes you think about what truly makes a good marriage and how a great foundation for a marriage is built.
3. What an unbelievable romance! I loved it from the beginning through to the very end.
4. David's Song is a true-to-life story that depicts a realistic portrayal of the complexities and dynamics of relationships, and the variety of issues, choices and decisions that come with them.
5. I loved the voice of Annie.
6. There is the perfect amount of tension between all of the primary characters.
7. I was crying big ugly tears at the end. (This one just makes me grin!)
8. The book leaves no one neutral because you as the reader will find yourself picking sides. (and also in this review) This book is NOT a typical romance novel . . . staves off book boredom.
Many of the reviewers said that the book made them think. I really can't think of a better compliment. Part of the reason I wrote David's Song was because I was thinking about choices, and if I could have, would I have made a different choice and in retrospect would I want to? (Just so you know, my answer is no. I wouldn't have chosen differently and am happy that I made the choice I did.)
Now to address some of those other comments. One reviewer said her only complaint was confusion over the religion issue. She felt that since part of the story takes place at BYU it implied the story was LDS. She suggested that since there was no other mention of LDS culture or beliefs that I should have placed the story at a different university thus giving the novel wider appeal. Doug and I actually discussed this issue because he had the same thoughts. I never intended for the book to be considered an LDS novel. BYU was just a location and I thought that since I didn't include much about the culture or beliefs, it was more accessible to a wider audience. The other thought I had in placing the story at BYU was that at what other university would people believe that these students weren't partying or sleeping around or other kinds of mischief? BYU has been voted the "Stone Sober" school several years in a row for a reason. To me, the BYU setting gave the story a little more credibility. And just to show that what one person considers a flaw, another person likes-- another reviewer said, it's "LDS fiction but don't let that put you off." Can't please everyone, right?! :)
One of the first reviews I received LOVED the book. She gave a resounding endorsement of the story until....she realized that the book was part of a trilogy. She doesn't like trilogies. She made some assumptions about what the next two books would be about, and if they were like she described then I would have to agree with her. Two more books of Annie teetering back and forth with the same decision would be miserable. Fortunately, that's not what the next two books are about. I personally love serials. I am often sad when I read a book and fall in love with characters, get highly involved in their story and then the book ends. I miss the friends I have made in reading the book. There are usually questions I have about what happens when you close the back cover. My daughter told me once that sequels were written because the author couldn't quite let go of the characters. I had that feeling when I finished David's song. And I am pleased that many of the reviewers are anxious for the next installment. As for those who don't like trilogies or sequels? David's Song does stand alone. And this reviewer said she would buy any stand alone novel that I wrote...That made me feel good. She liked my writing style.
The one bad review I received I find myself still shaking my head over. The emotion in this reader's review was astounding! And in some respects, she paid me many compliments. She mentions talking to her husband about the book because she felt out of sorts. She did say it was well written. And she said the book evoked emotion. All of which is positive I really have no issue with her unfavorable opinion of the book. I, too, have read books that I don't like that other people love. (Life of Pi comes to mind.) But her reaction was...well...let me share something of what she said. "I felt guilty and disloyal and dirty even." She adds that she felt that for Annie's character. I suppose I was shocked at the comment because although I didn't agree with some of the choices Annie made in the story, I wouldn't have labeled her "dirty". By all standards, David's Song is considered clean romance. Words such as those, don't lend themselves to the 'clean' label. And I will admit, that it took me a day or two to shake off the idea that since I created Annie, and her story, that I was somehow disloyal, guilty and dirty, too. I did shake it off.
I appreciated her remarks because they made me realize that all of us approach novels from a combination of past experiences and current values. One of the reasons that I didn't like Life of Pi was because right from the start the premise was that Pi's story would make me believe in God. For me, it didn't work. The book didn't meet it's objective. From the comments I received about David's Song - the book did meet it's objective. It made people think about their relationships. It made readers cheer for and celebrate marriage. It showed readers that even in true life situations, there is romance. Sometimes in life, we get so bogged down with the everyday that we miss what is exciting and passionate and romantic in our own relationships. If I have done nothing else, hopefully I have focused a spotlight on that idea.