Whenever a major event in life, either by design or happenstance, has come and gone, I find it good to analyze what went well, and what didn’t, to be prepared for when history repeats itself. Last weekend I released my seventh book in the best-selling San Miguel de Allende Secrets series and it was, upon reflection, an intriguing mixed bag of good, bad and ugly.
The book, first morning out, went to number one on Amazon for Mexican Travel plus Worldwide Customs and Traditions. That’s great and takes some focused planning to enable an author to have those bragging rights, particularly with a regional book. Regional books, by their focused subject matter, are never going to be a New York Times bestseller along the lines of Stephen King or Amy Tan. But to jump to the top of your niche is, in words of a Brady Bunch kid, neat-o.
Plus I had my fingers crossed to receive 3 reviews.
Reviews are a funny thing. For tours, I average 40 tours to receive one TripAdvisor review (and this was before TripAdvisor abandoned its credibility a few months ago to become the Ticket Master of travel). For books, I have to move, on average, 400 to get one review.
Reviews normally come upon a book’s release. Later reviews often fall into two camps. One is the fictitious reviewer that if you dig a bit, you’ll realize is an alias, as it is a person that simply likes to play in shadows spreading ill will. Another is an actual person with dreams to become a top Amazon reviewer, an enviable position as you’ll receive a lot of free swag in exchange for your review. To do so requires writing a lot of reviews and you can’t simply give good reviews or Amazon doesn’t consider you legitimate. So folks, in hope of getting a pair of diamond studs or a blender, will give books they’ve never bought, must less read, harsh reviews enabling them to provide great reviews for the products they actually want.
For the first time, I amassed nine five star reviews and was gob smacked!
Another first was readers sending personal messages. One reader in Louisiana complimented me on the story “Love Thy Neighbor” that jokingly referred to we foreigners’ obsession with trying to control our neighbor’s property. I contemplated forwarding it on to my dink neighbors that inspired the piece to compliment them on having some good laughs come from their dark intentions but knew the irony, much less the humor, would be lost on the pair.
One reader who had been on a tour wanted to know if I spoke into my phone and used voice recognition software because reading the book was so similar to listening to me. I was so flattered anyone could think I was that technology literate. I simply type fast.
I’ve long been a dues-paying member of the San Miguel Literary Sala whose purpose is to organize the yearly Writers’ Conference. In addition to dues, I also provide fund raising donations with a healthy portion of my tours at the conference going to Sala.
It suddenly dawned on me I was foolish to not have asked the Sala’s management team to provide reviews on the past six books. We are a group of book writers and here I’ve the top selling series of books on San Miguel!
Now, I’m not totally oblivious. I realize the Sala is run by, and for, senior foreign women. Ladies that write books about what are, basically, wealthy, white women problems with moving to Mexico get a ton of free promotion and blurbs. Heck, one gal literally lifted pages from Wikipedia to “write” a history book that gets continual promotion by the Sala. However, I’m a middle aged lad so my review request was denied.
My bad for asking. Expectations are pre-meditated resentments and one simply can’t expect any foreigner-run group you donate time and money to appreciate or reciprocate your efforts since, in their entitled eyes, you “owe” them.
In San Miguel is an email that comes out daily several times known as the Civil List, but largely referred to as the Snivel List, as it often little more than a bulleted list of foreigner gripes against their host county.
I learned nearly a decade ago by my own experiences and those of other ex-pats, the owner is vehemently anti-Catholic.
Now, let me mention, I totally get there are a multitude of reasons to be anti-Catholic. I grew up in central Pennsylvania that now appears to have been the breeding ground for pedophile priests. However, I don’t understand why an anti-Catholic racist moves to a Catholic country. It’s the equivalent of having anti-Semitism leanings and figuring Israel is the country to retire in.
I learned that anytime I posted, or answered questions, about local history and culture, or current events, those postings disappeared. The polar opposite of other social media outlets like FaceBook and Instagram that have readers that fancy knowing what is going on around them.
Still, like with the Literary Sala, I thought why not try? Naturally the post was denied but I was surprised to find the owner of the Snivel List responded with a lame lie. Calling her on it, I thought why not press the issue? I called her out on her anti-Catholic sentiments and hoped that one day she’d use her thimble of power to unite, rather than increase the divide between foreigners and Mexicans living in San Miguel.
Much to my surprise that struck a chord and she immediately posted just how hilarious it was she was seen in town as racist. I emailed her privately quoting that sage, Karen Walker, from the TV’s long running Will and Grace, that it was “funny because it is true.”
Also I encouraged her to turn over a new leaf and allow explanations of why fireworks and fiestas are going on rather than simply post moans about the noise. Knowing I had a rare opportunity to post something with it actually appearing on the Snivel List I promoted a young Mexican lad’s new book that came out the same week as mine.
His book is on the history of celebrations for St. Michael in town and his post made it onto the Snivel List! A feat that wouldn’t have happened a day before.
Fingers crossed it is the first of many posts that may link foreigner guest expectations to our host’s realities.
Overall, I couldn’t be happier with last weekend’s book release. Some things exceeded expectations. Others provided a possible open door to a better future between foreigners and Mexicans in San Miguel de Allende which, at the core, is why I write books!
by Joseph Toone
- TripAdvisor’s top tour guide in San Miguel de Allende with History and Culture Walking Tours and Joseph Toone Tours.
- Amazon’s best selling author of the San Miguel de Allende’s Secrets book series on history, holidays, tours and living in San Miguel.
DISCLAIMER: The opinions expressed hereby are those of the author and not necessarily those of the San Miguel Times.