One of the interesting things about my foray into the world of comic erotica self-publishing after years as a journalist is the explanation of said foray to my long-time friends. Most have taken it well; some have raised an eyebrow but have offered no further comment. Quite a few found it hilarious and couldn't wait to read The Signatures. Some friends I felt best to leave in the dark; maybe some day I'll tell them.
It took me a while before I got up the nerve to tell one friend — let's call her Idina (as I'm listening to Idina Menzel's "I Stand" album as I write this). I value Idina's opinion to a great degree, but I wasn't sure how she'd take the news that I was now an author of erotica, comic or otherwise.
She took it much better than I feared. In fact, she told me how proud she was of me for publishing my own book. She was, however, reluctant to read The Signatures, for reasons I won't get into here out of respect for her privacy.
Idina changed her mind, however, after she read the book's reviews on Amazon. "Now I'm intrigued," she told me. So I got her a print copy of the book, which she read in one day. In fact, late that afternoon she called me with her comments.
Hearing her notes to me over the phone, I can't say with all honesty that The Signatures had gained a new fan, but she remained proud of me for the accomplishment and pointed out some things that I will keep in mind for future books.
What intrigued me the most about the conversation with Idina, however, were not her criticisms of the book, but the particular points with which she took issue, as opposed to elements that she found funny. It's one of the things I've learned as a newbie ebook self-publisher and an author of what I hope will be comedy: What one person finds funny, another person finds offensive or simply not funny at all.
For instance, without revealing any spoilers, there's a particular chapter in The Signatures that has become quite polarizing. Some folks hate it, while others find it a hilarious change of pace from the other situations in the book. (As another friend put it when she was discussing the book with someone else, "You'll know it when you see it.")
Idina was one of those who enjoyed the chapter, found it funny and considered it refreshing after ... well, after all the sex in the book to that point. Yet she had criticisms about other aspects of the book that others have told me they loved (including some of the Amazon reviewers). Idina wasn't crazy about the ending, which she felt went on too long. Others have told me that the ending was what they loved the most about the book.
The point is, the adage that you can't please everyone is absolutely correct and is the main thing that all new authors (and plenty of experienced scribes) should burn into their memories and even have tattooed backwards on their chests like that guy in "Memento."
Truth told, I had considered removing the chapter in question, but I kept it in because 1. it was, indeed, a change of pace; and 2. because it revealed a lot of background about the heroine, Stacee Pockett.
In future projects, inclusion will not always be the best choice. But in this case, I think it was.
That struggle to make the right decision over such things, however, is but one of the things that makes this profession so exciting and rewarding. Another is discovering my readers' different opinions.