Wednesday, December 9, 2015

On Reviews And Sequels: Second Verse Same As The First

By J.C. Lynne

Working at the gallery two days a week gets me out of the house. According to the Beard that’s the critical thing, but the bonus is I hear hilarious discussions, meet interesting (read crazy) people, and experience an different world than most. 

Some days the place is hopping, some days it’s a great place to do busy work. I don’t write much at the shop because we’re usually in a music war or trading humorous snipes or I’m helping folks out with paperwork. 

It’s okay. I can’t think of a bad day I’ve had at the studio. Trap rap aside. 

Today was a s … l … o … w day. I’ve been told this is the slow season for ink artists. From now into the holidays, people are saving pennies, pseudo hibernating (I don’t blame them on this count), and generally not in the mood for ink. 

I did something no author should do. I checked my book reviews. No author should do this because unless you have a secure relationship with your novel, it can suck. There’s no mincing the suckage. 

In general, I have great reviews.  I let the two bad reviews run off me like the proverbial duck. I have a three-star review, which isn’t much of a review as an “I became confused about some things” thing.

I tease about the one-star review from Hans Wurst. I never get tired of that joke.

If you've read the first edition, the typos, the missing words, those are valid critiques. I've already addressed the editing nightmare that was Emergence. I've since found an exceptional editor (shout out to Jennifer Top!) and a new edition is on its way.

Literature is a personal taste thing. I remind myself 50 Shades has equally as many bad reviews as good reviews. No lie, they split down the middle. 

The recent review contains a rant about the new trend in novels to end at a perilous point and thus force a reader to anticipate the next book for some resolution. The reviewer rails against authors and publishers who are dragging out stories. The word dishonest was thrown about.

Personally, I find this new trend disturbing. Because who can forget the days when J.R.R. Tolkien gave us all of the LOR books all at once. No torture there. No cliff hangers. Or continuations. Remember C.S. Lewis? He never teased readers with the promise of multiple books. Dare I mention Rowling, Jordan, or Martin? 

I originally wrote The Esau Emergence as a stand alone novel. It had an open ending, but no promise of another book.

A prominent New York editor gave me some critique and upon reading my synopsis said, “It seems like you’ve ended the story. For marketability, you should leave it hanging. You’re going to build an audience with this story. Keep ‘em.”

I changed the ending. It was that simple. I’ve written several times about stale book series. I’ve promised the Continuum will be three books. No more, no less. 

Listen up non-writers, there's a tricky balance between telling a good story and finding people to buy it. Yes, I’m trying to make a living here, but to ding me in a book review for leaving the reader hanging is a cheap shot. 

If I were re-writing a previous novel from the male protagonist’s point of view, ahem, THEN you could call me dishonest. My books? Sure, they may be similar to other authors, but that’s why we categorize in GENRE. 

Okay, the review irritated me. If you don't love my book, fine. Leave me a fair and honest review, provide me some solid critique to help me improve my work.

I can take it.

Assailing me for participating in a new 'sequel' trend when the book title includes the words 'book one', well that's just uncharitable.

To be continued....heh.


Patricia Stoltey said...

LOL -- Knowing the first book was "Book I" should have been enough to signal a sequel, trilogy, or series. Even so, there are those readers who need everything wrapped up in a tidy bow at the end of each book.

In Dead Wrong, my editor had me delete my last chapter because it was unnecessary, more like an epilogue than an ending. Of course, I had at least one reviewer who claimed I ended the story too abruptly. That's the way it goes...

JC Lynne said...

You're so funny! The new book says, "The Thrilling Sequel" Hopefully, it will be enough of a hint. ;)

Kevin R. Tipple said...

It depends on the genre for this reader.

Your link to the one star review won't work for me. Maybe it is operator error on my part.

JC Lynne said...

Oh no! I'll fix it. I have confidence Kevin, that if a book says book one, you make the cognitive leap to the existence of book two. ;)

Share a Post