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Sunday, February 22, 2015

Writers and Readers: What would you do?

I have a friend who wrote an incredibly bad book. Hating to tell him the truth, I told him it was interesting, just not my genre. Now, he has published five books. One or two were written before the one I read.

Another published author and I were talking. This person could not even get through the first book. Another published author and I met in WM by accident. This author hates his writing. So, I have a dilemma. He has  good story line but cannot develop it.

Here is an example. When he introduces the main character, he cites his height and stature as though an engineer was writing...lol...just my silly way of talking about the author's giving his height first thing, and the fact he has broad shoulders and slim waist. I believe he even gives the dimensions of the guy's waist. The description is jarring to the senses. He is strong, but the author tells us this fact rather than showing us. We are given the exact dimension of rooms in the home he is remodeling. Rather than showing us, he tells dimensions. I think it would be more interesting to say the sideboard was enormous and the a table that seats 12 is easily swallowed by the room or that two more leaves are available for expanding the table. No, he just gives the dimensions of the room. It is a little disconcerting and sterile to hear all the numbers in this dramatic story.

And, he cannot write dialogue. Writing dialogue is my stumbling block. Plus, when I describe men, it sounds like soft porn to my ears. I describe women well and write action best. This is not necessarily women in action. He is very defensive of his writing, even from a writer. Even from a teacher who has graded hundreds of essays. Even from a teacher who took courses about correcting student writing.

People (he says) have tried to help him, but he says they are not writers, so how would they know anything. He is angry at the 212 people who downloaded his book for free but were rude and bought none of the others he wrote. I think they were not going to waste money; he thinks they just took and bought nothing...mooches.

I asked exbf if I should tell his books stink. Exbf said yes.

There are choices for me.
1) Say nothing.
2) Tell him in person.
3) Send him an anonymous letter.
4) Something else--but what?

He does not read my blog. Well, I don't think he does.

Your turn
What should I do?

26 comments:

  1. Say nothing. If he has had people wanting to help but he refuses, then he really only wants people to like HIS writing as he writes it. Nothing will be gained for either of you if you say anything.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Anne,
      Thank you. That has been my opinion from the beginning. I just want to help him as he is a friend. Just now, I realized he is a taker, anyway.

      Delete
  2. So by published you mean they're indie books, right? Two things... One, you can write an anonymous review on amazon, or wherever he's got them posted. Two- you can offer my perspective on free indie books.

    When I run out of things to read and my favourite authors don't have anything new out, I download. Since they're free, I tend to download 50 or so in a single day. It takes me a while to get through them all, and few inspire me enough to write a review, let alone pursue other books by the same author. However, I have found 3 or 4 authors that I do follow regularly now, and buy their other books.

    So, I don't know how long your friend has been doing this, but he may just need more time, or he may need to realize that the public has spoken...

    ReplyDelete
  3. Wendy,
    Thanks. I thought about the anonymous route. Since I am not remotely interested in the book, I just forgot where they are.

    Gee, I hope he has not found my blog!

    I will tell him how you download and read.

    At one point I told him that meant that people did not like his writing. But, he insisted they take the freebies and run. If he had asked me how the books could be improved, I would have an opening.

    I think he published the first one over two years ago. I really do want him to be successful.

    He did write one several years before and now has self-published it. He seems to be having success with that one. It is not fiction, but about his life.

    Thank you for your perspective.

    ReplyDelete
  4. I am an indie-author and can sympathise with your friend being peeved at free downloads. However he can stop this by clicking on the appropriate box in his settings. I had this happen to me and was very upset because my book is not a work of fiction and it was painful for me to write it and the thought of someone 'taking it for free' was upsetting.
    Sadly, human nature being what it is, if something can be had for free then it will be.
    Please tell your friend to adjust his settings or he will never sell anything ! I found out the hard way.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Wean,
      He deliberately gave books away in hopes of creating interest. He thought that by reading his book for free he would have readers who would recommend him to others AND they would buy his other books. No one took advantage of him, downloading to avoid paying. This was his idea. He did this for only one day, so he knows how to cut it off. I suppose I did not explain it adequately.

      Who publishes your books? Just curious. Thanks.

      Delete
    2. Smashwords publish my book - only written one so far, it's available worldwide though in various outlets including Amazon and Barnes and Noble, it was quite emotional to write so the sequel will have to wait ! I offer a 10% free download now, not the whole thing.

      Delete
  5. no opinion as I couldn't write a book if my life depended on it. Though I do agree with Wendy, if I like a book, I will read other's by the same author and will pay for them if I have too.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Gill,
      It has been over 12 months and he has not sold any online.

      Delete
  6. I have to concur with Wendy's position. When I find a free e-book, I realize it is a very limited time offer, so if it looks the slightest bit interesting, I download first and ask questions later. While I may not do as many as 50 at a time, I would say well over 90% of the free e-books I have downloaded I have never read. But I probably also haven't read half of the paper books I get for a dollar or less, either. The less the price, the more likely I am to take a chance on an author I've never heard of before. But if I do like an author, I'm not going to wait until his or her books are practically free to get them; I am willing to spend money on good books. So your friend is doing the right thing, he just needs to realize it takes more time, and most of those free downloads never would have been sales in the first place.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. John,
      Good point that they never would have been sales in the first place. Do you think over a year is too long to wait?

      Delete
  7. I read a lot - usually 3-4 fiction books per week. It's been my experience that if a book does not capture my interest in the first 3-4 pages I will not finish it - free or not. For myself, I've also found that self-published books are often not books that do capture my interest. Having an established publisher and working with an editor does make a difference.

    As far as telling the author about his book - anonymous review or just nothing is probably the best route. With a review citing specifics I'd think would be best.

    Oh, by the way, because I do not buy books, can't afford them, I use the library extensively and sometimes the free e-books but not often. Our library very very rarely shelves indie books - they are looking for books that have been reviewed, edited and published by knowledgeable sources.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Bellen,
      I think lots of people go for the "free" books in libraries. I do. He found an "editor" and "publisher" with about as much cred as I have. Then, they were going to start a publishing house. Then, "everyone abandoned me" was the next thing I heard. I think the editor was some woman he met. Thanks for helping me.

      Delete
  8. I wouldn't say a word. I think you were very kind with what you already told him. Tell him you wish him well in the sale of his book. Kindness really matters in this world.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Tan,
      You are correct about kindness. This is a dilemma!

      Delete
  9. The key is whether or not he wants a critique or a pat on the back. It sounds like he just wants to be appreciated for his work - and even bad books are hard work.

    I try and add something positive to my comments, regardless. Tell him that every book offers something more, that many authors wrote for years before they were appreciated and for every type of book out there - there's a reader who will love it. Give him your best wishes and hope that he connects to those readers and in the meanwhile, encourage him to keep trying new styles and writing.

    Exposing yourself to the public is never a one way ticket to praise.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Cherdo,
      Actually, he just wants praise. He thinks and says, "If the public ever read my books, I know they would sell."

      Delete
  10. Either don't say anything, or provide specific, constructive, kind feedback in anonymous form.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. tlc,
      My thoughts exactly. Thnk you.

      Delete
  11. DON'T SAY ANYTHING if he doesn't ask. If he asks, a mere "Hey, I love to sew (or whatever) so it doesn't matter if anyone likes what I make. If you like writing, keep it up"

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. lotta joy,
      That is so true about liking something. He wants to be famous. When I read it, he was waiting for positive feedback. You could see it on his face.

      Delete
    2. "If you like writing, keep it up" isn't negative, and under the circumstances, is more positive that giving suggestions. He sounds like the type of person who would take a suggestion as an attack on his writing expertise.

      Plus, once a book is in print, that's the wrong time to make suggestions. While it's in editing mode is the time to ask, and the time to offer.

      Delete
    3. Lotta,
      I edited the first three chapter and rewrote the synopsis or whatever it was where he ws submitting the book. However, when I edited/corrected, I did what I do when anyone wants my help.--I asked what he wanted me to correct--spelling, extra spaces, subj-verb agreement, that kind of thing. Or, do they want me to look for word choice, giving him an alternative. Or, does he want help with how storyline is going, developing the story.

      All he wanted was the first, just the technical stuff. There were historical details he got wrong but insisted they were correct. He was afraid it would be my story, not his, if I had too much input. ???

      I thought he would maybe ask why I thought it was not selling. NOPE! He knows they just want free books.

      Delete
  12. i once wrote a short story, it was my first and i was proud of it. i showed it to a friend who always pushed me to do my best and he referred me to a website talking about how to improve one's writing.

    my friend obviously thought my story was crap and he was probably right but what i wanted was for him to share my joy in having even tried writing it.

    i guess what i am trying to say is that even though you could give him some real wisdom maybe he just isnt ready to hear it timing is everything!

    ReplyDelete
  13. sorry,"timing is everything" should be a stand alone sentence

    ReplyDelete

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