I’ve joined a group of bestselling authors on Readers Rule. I love this title and philosophy! I’ve always tried to put readers first, to respond to every reader who contacts me, and to give away as many books as I can. These authors have all sold 100,000 books/ebooks, so they must be doing something right. We’re just getting started and will soon add a regular book giveaway and monthly newsletter. I hope you’ll check out the site. Read more →
Left Coast Crime in Santa Fe was great this year. I got to meet in person people I’ve come to know and like online: Peg Brantley, Jodie Renner, Marlyn Beebe, and more. I participated in two panels, Research: Getting It Right, and Publishing: Today and in the Future.
Both were well attended, and I got terrific feedback from the audience. Read more →
Always striving to improve my writing, I make notes when readers complain about what they don’t like in a story. I reviewed my notes recently because I’m working on a rewrite of a new novel. Here’s a long list of dislikes from readers on a mystery listserv I participate in:
- portents, particularly the “had-I-but-known”
- cliffhangers at the end of the chapter or the book
- an abundance of coincidences Read more →
I love the Top & Bottoms lists created at the end of every year by the 4 Mystery Addicts book discussion group. The sheer diversity of favorite books is heartening. (I always make somebody’s list 🙂 But I’m more intrigued by the books that make both lists: favorites and least favorites. It reminds me again that every reading experience is subjective and that readers bring their own perceptions and experiences to what they read. A whooping 31 books were listed this year both as someone’s Read more →
Readers care more about gender than I realized. Recent mystery forum discussions revealed some startling proclivities: Some women read only male writers. Other women often avoid female writers and protagonists because they fear they’ll fit into certain stereotypes. As a novelist, all of this concerns me. Especially considering four of the top five current fiction authors on the New York Times bestseller list are men, and that Oprah Read more →
For readers who can’t make it to mystery/crime gatherings to meet their favorite authors, Poisoned Pen Press is offering a virtual online conference. Scheduled for Oct. 24, the PPP webcon is a chance to take in great discussions among authors on many subjects. For example, I’m on a panel that discusses provocative social issues in novels. There will also be discussions about exotic locations in novels, historical settings, reader favorites such as sex and violence, and many other subjects. Read more →
Two reader-forum discussions highlight how author protectionism can go too far.
The first being the Kindle 2 and its text-to-speech feature that allows users to have the book read to them in that robotic way only a machine can do. The Writers Guild and other author groups complained loudly about this feature, claiming Amazon was essentially producing audio books, which it had no right to do. So Amazon has backed down and only those books with publishers’ permission will be available in this format.
Writers gain nothing from this. The idea that they’re losing a royalty from a hypothetical audio book sale is ludicrous. No one in his/her right mind would buy and listen to a text-to-speech version of a book if a professionally read audio book was available for purchase. Calling these things equal products is like saying a hard-boiled egg is the same as a slice of quiche.
Who loses are the blind people, and perhaps other handicapped individuals, who might have listened to a book on Kindle because an audio version was not available. And if they enjoyed that author’s work, they might have purchased one of his/her audio books in the future when they became available. Or bought another of the author’s Kindle books. Or recommended the author to their book club or their large book-loving family. Limiting access to a novel from a paying customer makes no sense. As I said, a shot to one’s own foot.
The second writer-protectionism discussion is equally short-sighted. Some authors complain about readers purchasing used books and thus not supporting authors with royalties. How can you hope to stop this? By producing books that self-destruct when the final page is read? And why make readers feel guilty about buying your book?
Having a book in circulation, moving from reader to reader, is better than not having a book in circulation. Every time someone reads an author’s work and likes it, they become future buyers and great word-of-mouth marketers for the author. Many readers try out new authors by getting their books from the library or buying an inexpensive used version. Once they become a fan, they often support the author by purchasing his/her new books.
I know many authors will disagree with this position, but my feeling is that a little flexibility and generosity can go a long way.