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Tuesday, August 2, 2011

"I ain't gonna eat that!"

Since April, when I began this experiment in self-publishing, I have had relative success at Smashwords.

The short story has 35 downloads. The novel has 66 downloads and 7 units sold. The cookbook has sold 8 copies (since I put it up as a “set-your-your-price”) plus 1,526 free downloads. It has been a slow but relatively steady progress.

At least for the moment, I can conclude that I may not be able to retire on my self-published work, but I can expect modest royalties. Not bad given the effort, but I can up the ante by tweaking my marketing plan.

It all remains very interesting and exciting – especially because the market is still evolving.

I was very excited this afternoon when I got an e-mail notification about a review for the cookbook. My heart sank when the first word was a typo (This can’t end well!).

She hated it. She did not like the way it was written, she did not find one recipe worth a try. You know that proverb about how you can’t please all the people all the time? This reviewer is their leader.

I appreciate her opinion, even if I do not agree with her (obviously). A collector of cookbooks, she especially disliked the structure of the book – I supposed she wanted a more traditional Western format. But what really saddens me is that she couldn’t find a single recipe to inspire her.

With this particular reader I failed. What I wished for more than anything was for someone to read the essays or even the recipes and want to taste, to cook, to experiment with ingredients.

I was hoping that I could take the criticism, when it inevitably came, and be able to use it constructively towards other projects (like I am doing by compiling the Family Tree edition). I’m not sure what to do with this review other than feel bad she couldn’t find one thing to try out. She mentions a 30-year-old book she loved. She knows what she likes. I simply did not wet her palate.

Am I upset she gave the book a bad review? Not really. She tried it and it wasn’t her cup of tea. I can live with that.

I would be upset if someone tried one of my recipes and it killed them.

Folks offering up their opinion are just exercising an inalienable right. And there’s no accounting for taste, is there? 

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