You release your hand-fed, carefully crafted book out into the wilds and you’re bound to get feedback. Reviews, critiques and comments from readers come in different flavors – Loved it, Hated it, or the worst feedback of all, the sound of crickets.
By the time your book hits the streets, at least a dozen sets of eyes have poured over countless drafts of the manuscript. You’ve revised, changed, edited, rewritten and shredded page after page, so that the story is as tight as possible. All the plot holes are filled, the characters are fully fleshed out and the dialogue is crisp – check, check, and check.
So, there shouldn’t be any surprises when the first reviews and comments come rolling in, right?
I’ve been very fortunate for some great reviews and critiques of Little River on Amazon, GoodReads and Barnes and Noble. I’m grateful for each and every one. I’ve even had people who purchased the book, come find me in person, and ask about the story. Now, that is kinda of cool, when you think about it. But the things the readers wanted to know, did surprise me a bit.
Readers got into the details of the Little River story. The island, markets, the people and forested inland regions intrigued readers, who wanted to know if the places I referenced in the story actually exist. One reader went as far as pulling up a Google Map of Jamaica to see if there was a place called Little River. The river exists on the Northern Coast, although most of the crocodile activity occurs along the Southern coastline. The reptilian predators play a supporting role in the story and through the magic of fiction, they make a rare appearance in the brackish water of Little River.
A few asked about human trafficking and if it really existed in the Caribbean. Unfortunately, human trafficking in the region is not fiction, but very real. The Jamaican government continues to struggle with forced labor, prostitution and other forms of slavery. Each week, it seems that another account surfaces where “businessmen” promise jobs and education, only to have the victim work in brothels, or dance halls, until their debt is repaid. This is why I chose to donate a portion of the proceeds from the sales of the book to NotForSale.org, a non-governmental organization fighting human trafficking and serving the victims rescued from trafficking.
Readers gravitated to Andrea, the primary protagonist in Little River. One reviewer from a local newspaper explained that she appreciated the main character being a strong “Mama Bear” when it came to doing what ever it takes to search for her missing daughter. Other readers commented on Lieutenant Washington’s motivation to help recover the missing girls, or Jon-Pierre Baptiste’s formative years, which led him to a lifetime of violence and cruelty.
Readers asked about a sequel to Little River. When I wrote this novel, I didn’t have a notion to create a second installment. I went on to other stories and left Little River behind. But, interesting questions came up from readers. Were the girls targeted for abduction before they arrived on the island? Who is really behind the trafficking networks? And, would those who survived the ordeal be safe?
I have a couple of other works in the pipeline, but based on reader feedback, I’m intrigued by the possibilities in a second installment of Little River…there may be something there.
When it comes down to it, the reader’s experience is what it’s all about. If that’s what they want, well, readers know best.