Paper Dolls #2 has been up for two weeks and I couldn’t be more excited to be reading reviews and hearing the different complaints and praises you all are sending out. A lot of people read something fast and then it’s done for them and they move onto the next. It’s been interesting to see how fast people are reading PD #1 and PD #2. People have been reading them back to back and finishing in under a day and that’s so crazy to know about since it took us so long to write everything and get it up for you.
I guess this would be a good place to address any comments we’ve gotten. I frequently check the reviews on Goodreads and on Amazon.
Paper Dolls #1 is still being read just as much as Paper Dolls #2 and that makes me very happy. In my opinion, Paper Dolls #1 is a lot heavier than Paper Dolls #2. Also, Paper Dolls #1 is tighter (a lot more being covered, so much so that it overwhelms those who are not prepared).
In our negative reviews we hear a lot of people saying things about the relationship being unrealistic and I respectfully disagree. I knew people who fell in love fast in high school and had that ride or die- die-hard sort of love. Did it last? In most cases, hell no. BUT the relationship in Paper Dolls was designed to play off of the classic high school love stories that straight kids have gotten to pine over and relate to. Paper Dolls is realistic but it’s also fiction. Are they in love? Who knows. Would anyone know if they loved someone really if they’d only known a couple things about them? Probably not. But they might say they were in love because lust is a real strong thing. In that way, I do think the relationship is realistic. I knew people who met in high school and became glued at the hip and told everyone they were in love and became enmeshed and codependent. Was it healthy? No. Did it happen? Hell yea! Were there weddings? Yes. Did they have babies? Some of them. Does that mean paper dolls will have babies? The verdict is still out.
BUT just know that we have the characters address this later in the series. It becomes one of Olivia’s main problems. She begins to be sure that there is no way Avery could really love her because there’s no way Avery can possibly know her yet. So, that is coming and that has been planned since before we even put out book one! Because these two are realistically written and that has been one of our goals since day one.
A lot of people want quick resolve here and all I can say to that is I am so sorry (and maybe stop reading if it isn’t fun for you) because Paper Dolls is not some quick easy story where everything is perfect. We wanted things to be realistic and we wanted to show the growth of a complicated gay relationship. And we also wanted it to be angsty and addicting and entertaining so THIS IS NOT A SHORT PERFECT RIDE.
A lot of our negative reviews are upset at the length and upset at HOW SELF CONSCIOUS these characters are. We even have people upset that Olivia dresses fashionably. Try going to school in Southern California before you claim something like that doesn’t happen. I started to encounter stuff like that when I was in a very low income PUBLIC middle school in SoCal. We set PD in a SoCal prep school where the median income of a household is well above 60k.
We even had someone say they didn’t like that there was so much talking during the sex scenes.
There is a lot of sex in Paper Dolls and sex is a huge theme we wanted to talk about throughout the series since it’s not done much within the genre (gay writers having gay characters talk about their very specific gay sex). It’d be very easy to just write sex and have there be no substance. Just because we classify this as Romance doesn’t mean we want it to be dumbed down and just simple. Obviously, that was not our intention. There are a lot of other books out there you can read if you’re just looking for sex to read. Given the amount of sex in this serious, as a whole, I find that complaint hilarious (if you don’t care about the characters why do you care about their sex anyway? just stop reading).
On the positive side we’ve had a few comparisons. Just this morning someone compared Paper Dolls to Love Story and I almost cried because that is such a huge compliment I could never see coming. Overall, our ratings and reviews are primarily positive for both books. Just know that we are blown away by the positive feedback on this series by far. I never expected that most of our responses and ratings would be positive. Not in a million years. I was sure we’d get more hate than love for this. I don’t know if that’s just me being paranoid, me knowing that people are searching for happier stories that don’t involve realistic downer topics? I don’t know. But I was sure we were in for an adventure in publishing this story and so far it has been that but in a different way than originally expected.
We love this couple so it’s a great feeling to know that other people are falling in love with them too. I just wish we could be faster in getting everything up and out there. We’re trying to stay on a 3 month schedule where we get a book up every three months. We almost didn’t make our book 2 deadline. We’re gonna really try to have things be organized though and released in a timely fashion. Luckily it’s all written. We can feel comfortable in that!
People are still asking about the disclaimer and asking who the intended audience is. We put the disclaimer on PD because there is a lot of explicit sex in the series. We do not want anyone reading sex if they do not want to read sex. That’s all the disclaimer is for. We have explicit sex in our series so naturally we cannot label it a Young Adult book (eventhough young adults do regularly read explicit sex in fanfiction and other books on the regular we have to have consideration for the potential young adults who would be overwhelmed by this series and we have to classify this series as a romance series BECAUSE of the sex). The Romance genre is called the Romance genre because it contains explicit sex. I’m not sure what about that is confusing people. It really is the only distinction.
The fact of the matter is, a lot of 17 and 18 year olds are having sex and thinking about sex. That’s not untrue. That’s not an exaggeration. Teenagers do have sex. Just like teenagers do get taken advantage of by authority figures. For the most part, the intended audience of this book are the people who have gone through things similar to what Avery has gone through. People in situations like Olivia or like Avery. Half of this series is about trying to comfort those who have been wrongfully hurt in different ways by parents, boyfriends, girlfriends, authority figures, you name it. Gay women are our intended audience. We aim to entertain, please, start important conversations, and comfort. Paper Dolls is in no way perfect and it was never our intention to write a story about the perfect relationship. The perfect relationship IS A FALLACY. Humans need room to breathe. A relationship that does not make space for that will not last.
We go over mental illness, we go over complications having to do with sex, we go over neglect, we go over addiction, we go over how hard it is to have a relationship if you’ve lived a complicated life and you might not like yourself all that much. We go over so many things in this series, including what does and what does not make a person a rapist and a pedophile so it’s really obnoxious to get such off-hand negative reviews that try to call the series trash just because it contains explicit sex. Forget all that noise. We are telling a somewhat realistic modern gay love story and we are telling it our way. We could not have written about all these different issues in one project without having our characters go through things. And we are definitely aware that this series is not for everyone. A lot of people don’t want to think about half of the things that happen in PD. That’s completely fine. We don’t want anyone reading who does not want to read. And we’re not trying to convert people to become any certain type of gay person. PD is about the opposite of all that. Breaking down stereotypes and showing how real relationships can be complicated but worth it is Paper Dolls in a nutshell.
I honestly don’t think I’d ever encourage a codependent relationship like Avery and Olivia’s. The thing is though, they like that type of relationship and they are feeding off of each other. That happens some times. We address that in the series. We need more varied representation in the publishing world. That’s all we’re trying to do, show one little microcosm that we haven’t exactly seen before ourselves.
Anyway, thank you for reading and coming along with us on this journey! Feel free to comment and converse with us! We’d love that, really! We hope to have book three up for you soon!