All that is well and good unless you’re a writer of crime fiction (and any other genre for that matter) and have to contend with considerations like establishing a platform and a readership, a pursuit some have likened to identifying and appealing to a special, designated tribe. And that, of course, has little to do with the process of creation and, say for the sake of argument, bringing a compelling mystery to life.
In short, when you send a published work out there, even after you polished it and worked out all the kinks and holes in tandem with your editor’s insights and suggestions, 5 star and 1 and 2 star reviews may likely begin to appear under “books” in places like Amazon.
For example, after you’ve done your level best to insure that Miranda, your unwitting but intrepid amateur sleuth is believable, vulnerable, and comprised of many of the inconsistencies that make us all human, some readers will complain that she’s too scatterbrained. In this particular case, a few housewives from the Midwest were disappointed that this lead character didn’t resemble “the tough feisty gal” traits that Sue Grafton’s detective exhibits. In essence, you’ve left mystery buffs down and haven’t lived up to what they had every right to expect.
On the other hand, some readers award your efforts with a glowing 5 star because, at long last, you’ve provided them with a flawed character they can relate to. Other readers key primarily on plot and twists and surprises, and still others focus on a compelling sense of place and grade you on how closely your work adheres to the tenets of noted British writer P.D. James.
Just for fun, I recently presented a successful New York crime writer with this particular dilemma and case in point. She wrote back that as long as I was garnering this range of reviews everything was fine. “If you’re getting all 4 and 5 star reviews, it’s time to worry. Either all your reviews are coming from friends and relatives or you’ve sold out and are writing formulaic stuff and what’s the point in that?”