What makes horrible novel characters so interesting to me? A good book review, and a bad … but mostly ‘Dunn’ is invisible on Netgalley etc.

So, it was inevitable.  I got a bad review.

Sadly, it was one of the first, but I’ve since had a couple of 5* and a really positive comment on Amazon.

My ‘unusual thriller’ as the good review kindly put it, was clearly not the other reader’s cup of tea.  C’est la vie.  You can’t please everyone, and if some people like it then I’m happy.  Actually, I’m just happy that I finished it to a standard I’m happy with.  It is the sort of book that I want to read because I can’t deal with bad things happening to nice people in my fiction.  Bad things happen to nice people in reality.  I wanted to write something where bad things happen to people who aren’t angels…

But ‘Dunn’ is unusual, and it is ‘intricately plotted’ (thanks, good reviewer), and that was kind of the point.

As I mentioned in my post a week or so ago, my characters are pretty horrible.  It wasn’t intentional initially, but with horrible people, there’s so much more backstory that you can bring in.  It allowed me to add so much more drama and characterisation.  And really I would describe my novel as character driven.  It’s all about them and why these things happen to them.  And there are reasons for each of them.  I go into some more than others, but obviously Aidan mostly.

What makes people horrible?

With Aidan Dunn, my main character, his upbringing is clearly to blame.  His mother’s a bit of a witch, a bit like the woman he ends up marrying … ooops.  Spoiler alert.  I’ll stop there before I reveal all my twists and turns.

We also get some insight into Sheila’s backstory and Stephanie’s, as well as encountering Sophie’s awful family.  Horrible people are horrible for a reason.  As an author, it gives you so much more to write about.  No offence to nice people, I hope I am one, but there’s a lot less drama in what makes people nice I think… even if that’s controversial.

But is Aidan really a bad person?

He deserves what he gets … yes, definitely, but the novel is meant to have a ‘careful what you wish for’ message.  Again, I will shut up there, before I give too much away.  But is he a bad person?  He has fairly decent friends who stand by him; he helps Lloyd out.  He’s not a two-dimensional baddy.  Like most real people he’s multifaceted.  Stupid and greedy, but complex.

What about Yvette Blake and Doctor Jeffers?

Yvette Blake is a truly horrendous woman, but why?

After years in the spotlight, trying to remain in view as she sinks, gradually out of the public eye, what did she have left?  She was totally vulnerable to a scheme like the Salvation program, something that gives her the audience that her ego craves and promises her the income she has now lost.

I’ve started a short story/vignette (I’m not convinced I know what a vignette is, so it’s probably the wrong descriptor) about how Yvette got embroiled in the Salvation program, and I’ll be publishing that free to my website subscribers within the next month.  I’ve got sucked into draft two of ‘The Raven’s Test’ (it’s still the Seagull on there) on wattpad currently, because I figured I had nothing to lose by entering the watty awards, so it might take me a few weeks to get the Yvette backstory edited.

The Raven's Test cover

Jeffers I actually have less of an idea about, I’ll be honest.  When Aidan is awarded his franchise, Jeffers does offer hints about his motivation.  He is very keen for Aidan to believe in the program, suggesting that at some level at least, he believes it too.  But he is a fraud and a conman – no doubt about it.  Again though, the question is why?  Is he a bit of a Jimmy in Better Call Saul character?  This is not something I’ve thought about with him.  ‘Dunn’ was predominantly about Aidan, but now ‘Dunn’ is finished, I’ve been thinking a lot about the background of the sub-characters.  Mrs Tressel, for example.  What’s with her?  She keeps herself to herself.

But actually, it’s all from Aidan’s perspective  

And do we trust him as a narrator?  I’m not sure I’d take everything he says about other people at face value.  Look at how horrible he was about lovely Terry … I would say his perception of others is skewed.  Not that I’m saying they’re all lovely people.  I hope they are not.  If they are, I failed.

So a good review, a bad, but mostly ‘Dunn’ is invisible

I know it’s been less than a month and the book is not yet released through Waterstones etc (it’s only on print on demand, because the thought of getting back 100 copies unsold was just too depressing to contemplate and too blooming expensive) and I’m nothing if not impatient, but no one seems to be reading it on Netgalley ….. It’s free!!  Does one bad review doom you?  The reviewer didn’t even read it all, because the intricacies of how the cult suck people in were not for them, which seems unfair (but then who said life was fair!).

So, how do you get over this cloak of invisibility as a self-published author? All ideas welcomed…

My blog tour with Silver Dagger Tours is now in full swing and it certainly has got me some website subscribers and twitter followers/mentions so far.  There’s a giveaway, and GuestPosts by me on some of the host sites.  There should be reviews too … The schedule can be found at the link above.

dunn banner.png

But what else can a self-published author do?

Netgalley seems to be doing nothing positive for me, and they offer to ‘maybe’ promote you if you win a nominations race after you pay £80, but that seems a ridiculous gamble to me, so Netgalley is not working out brilliantly so far.  When I wrote this, none of my local media had got back to me about featuring my book in their publications, but that has since changed, with Seaford Scene offering to run a short press release.

The helpful e-book marketing person at Troubador (I won’t mention their name in case they don’t want mentioning) are also going to try to contact other Sussex publications for me as I was no doubt contacting the wrong people which is really appreciated.  On a similar invisibility note, the one independent bookshop that there is locally has not got back to me about hosting a book signing.  Very frustrating.  It’s a good job that my glasses have never been rose-tinted!

I guess all I can do is keep plugging away and hope some more positive reviews come in.  I know people some publicity is better than none and not everyone is going to like the ‘different’ style of ‘Dunn’ or my very cynical humour, but hey.  If some readers enjoy that then that’s good enough for me





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