We all know writers know the importance of genre in marketing their work and identifying with a their target audience. But readers don't.
Before I was a writer, I read what my friends recommended were "awesome" books. I had friends who were active in their churches and friends who were Goth. Tattooed, pierced friends and friends who competed in beauty pageants. Athletes and Dead Heads...and althletes who followed the Dead. Clearly, their taste in books was as diverse as the people I hung out with. I wound up reading across genres and sat in with various target audiences. Reading the reviews on Amazon, it's clear to me others do the same.
Consider these stats:
New Moon, Stephanie Meyer's second book of the Twilight saga sensation, received 2,232 Amazon reviews that break down like this:
If 3 stars represents "average," then 450 people, or roughly 20% thought the book was average or below average.
56 people thought Jane Eyre deserved a 1-star rating!
141 readers out of 779 thought The Stand was just "eh."
Just for fun, I checked out The Holy Bible. I won't post those results here, since many of the comments argued over religious tenets or over translation of certain versions, but I still found it hilarious that The Bible received negative customer reviews.
It does make my point, though. Not everyone will fit into one writer's target audience. As writers, we need to keep this in mind along every step of our journeys. Negative feedback in our careers is a statistical certainty. We'll draw it when we share our work on our blogs, with crit groups, and with agents. We'll hear it from editors and publishers. And once our books are in print, we'll read it on Amazon, Goodreads, and anywhere else where the general public is welcome to share their opinions.
When your book is published, do you think you'll want to read the negative reviews?
Why or why not?