A reader said the characters in The Bootlegger’s Legacy were boring. His comment ZZZZZ. Okay, it’s one of those reader reviews I should ignore and wish the person good health and happiness. Well, maybe not happiness. The two characters he was referencing are Mike and Joe. Mike is the son of the bootlegger in the title and Joe is his best friend since second grade.
The excitement in this book is not thriller stuff—it was not intended to be. It is about two ordinary guys who stumbled across a mystery about the past and see it as a way to make their lives more meaningful. Not massive bomb blasts or twenty people mowed down in a hail of bullets. Nothing close to political overthrow of the government; just a couple of guys trying to figure out how to live. Maybe that is mundane.
So more than likely the reader was expecting action (which I think means greater risk to the protagonist—like a thriller, or maybe more graphic violence). Either way that is not this book. So was the book misclassified? How, as a reader not familiar with the author, do you determine if the book is something you’re interested in reading? Probably by the description provided by the author, the genre of the book or reader (or editorial) reviews.
First the description on the book’s page on Amazon.
“Joe and Mike, middle-aged losers, have discovered the promise of abundant riches and a better life; if they can only solve the cryptic clues from the past. Clues left by Mike’s bootlegger dad, whose legacy is immorality and astonishing wealth. Mike finds a troubling family history and Joe discovers his love for someone already dead. This adventure of discovery may lead to happiness or misery; but they will not be able to stop themselves from unlocking the past. The answers will surprise everyone.”
I’m not proud of my descriptions. It is one of my many weaknesses. I have trouble with hype or hyperbole and therefore, they all sound kind of boring or flat. So if that reader read the boring description and expected something else, that can’t be the problem of mischaracterizing the book.
The genre of the book is mystery. Well, that covers a ton of books from one extreme to another. There is a sub-group of Cozy Mysteries which this book might fit into, except for my use of gritty language. Of course I’m not real sure what the actual dividing line on cozy verses regular mysteries is—so who knows maybe it is, or maybe it isn’t. Definitely this book was never intended to be a thriller with lots of high tension moments putting the characters at risk of losing their lives.
There are no sub-classifications regarding mystery; in-depth character development or mystery; fun story with only a little violence—so the huge pool of mystery can, of course, lead to not finding the mystery book you were looking for. I often think of my books more along the lines of British mystery books with a slower pace and more dialogue—but they are not the same. That quality can be boring to some readers looking for action.
This book has another element that can be confusing. There is a flash back to the life of the bootlegger in the 1950s. And any real “action” in the story occurs there. Most of the mayhem is “off-camera,” but the main characters in this section of the book are put at risk. Pat (the bootlegger) and Sally (his mistress) have contact with the bad guys in this part of the book. Their lives are at risk and the action drives a main point of the plot.
So I suppose you could say that the flashback portion is more of a thriller than the current time portion. The reviewer I mentioned at the beginning did not refer to the characters in the flashback section as being boring (only Mike and Joe); so maybe the reviewer thought that portion was okay and was only giving a snoring review for one portion of the book.
The last way to evaluate a book (other than reading it—even at full regular price e-books are cheap) is reviews. The Bootlegger’s Legacy received good reviews from several professional reviewers including Kirkus. Also, the book received a Benjamin Franklin award. There are 236 reader reviews on Amazon with an average rating of 4.3 stars out of 5. But, of course, some reviewers may have better insight than others—how would you know? Obviously, you wouldn’t.
I have often said this is my best book. Not necessarily the writing, more the narrative. The Pat and Sally story as a flashback I think is a great tale of very different people who meet for a short time but leave a lasting impression on many people. I greatly enjoy those stories of people’s lives that impact the future of so many others—and I thought this was a good one.
So this blog seems to be me promoting my book, okay; maybe. But it did not start that way. I am very concerned about how to help readers select the best books for them to read. In that regard I’m going to re-write all of the descriptions of the books with a new emphasis on less promotion and more information.
“The Bootlegger’s Legacy is a non-thriller adventure by two ordinary guys, Joe and Mike, whose lives have hit a wall. Desperate for money to solve their problems they embark on a lark to find treasure from the past. The past is about Mike’s father who was a bootlegger in 1950s Oklahoma and his accumulation of great wealth and his illicit love affair with the most beautiful woman he had ever seen. That legacy of wealth and love drive the later story of self-discovery and fulfillment by the next generation. Great characters, some romance, some adventure and a bit of humor.”
I don’t know, I think I like the current description better than the new one? Guess I will try again, later.
Or maybe the approach should be full-on bullshit—
“#1 New York Times national bestseller by one of the best authors writing today; The Bootlegger’s Legacy by superstar author Ted Clifton. This book has been nominated for every award in existence and is currently being made into both a TV series and a major Hollywood movie. The Bootlegger’s Legacy is so popular that, if you do not buy it today, all copies could be gone. Currently the e-book is on sale at only $4.99 from the regular price of $129.99—what a bargain!” Note; only 5 star positive reviews are currently being accepted for this book per agreement with anybody who matters.
Next book genre, fantasy.