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Thursday, 31 January 2013

I did something a newbie writer should never really do today…

… I had a slow day at work, so I went on-line and read all the reader’s reviews/comments on my work, on as much different sites as I could see.

Now I’m a bit happy, a bit disheartened, and a lot confused.
The good news is that some readers game me top marks! The bad news is some gave me bottom marks… The slightly better news is that there are more top marks than there are bottom ones, and a fair portion of middling scores as well.
So what do all these scores tell me? Well possibly not anything we don’t all already know before looking at stuff like this. Some people will like our writing, some won’t, and others will say “Meh…” and go on to the next. I did read some very well thought out and cohesive reviews though;  and some one line ‘this is rubbish’ / ‘this is great’ stuff, that doesn’t say much; some of which gave me as much insight as a good critique, pointing out both good and bad things from the readers’ point of view. These will all be helpful, as I’m building on one of these stories to be included in something much larger that I’m currently in the middle of writing.

Reading this stuff definitely brings home the reality of letting the public loos on your story. People will hate it, with luck some may love it, and most will be mildly interested to ambivalent. If this third group read to the end and actually recommend it to others I count that as a win, and some did. What you do get are real unregulated responses from people who, for the most part, do not write themselves.  So; as long as you bring a large spoonful of salt, and a very thick skin with you; there is some genuine experience to be gained from doing this, just remember to fight the urge to respond, however strong it may be, or how misjudged or put-upon you may feel. Remember these are not tame critters, these are the ‘readers in the wild’ and cornering one may set the pack on you.

Monday, 28 January 2013

Judging a book by its cover...

Of course we all know the old axiom, don’t judge a book by its cover, and we all know that there is an entire industry dedicated to making people do exactly this.
At this point in commercial fiction publishing, I think it’s fair to say they the industry has ether intentionally or by accident created a certain expectation of what cover art should look like, and perhaps more importantly what it should look like for each genre.

People primarily lift a book up of the shelf for one of two reasons, ether because of the author’s name, or because of the cover design.
I believe there are certain characteristics that now say ‘Romance Novell,’ ‘Thriller,’ “Scienc Fiction,’ ‘Fantasy,’ and ‘Horror.’
Yes, of course any potential reader/customer may be able to tell the genre by the book’s name, or by the picture illustration used, but it’s deeper than this...

Look at all the crime/thriller novels, for example. They do have a certain ‘look,’ or template that is different from the average romance of SciFi-Fantasy book. And, perversely, if a beginner writer or self e-publisher wants their book to ‘stand out from the crowd’ they also have to get a cover design that ‘fits in nicely’ with this self same throng. Because if they don’t the conditioned book buying public may subconsciously pass their work by based solely on the unspoken notion that it ‘doesn’t fit’ what they are looking for.