How many books do you have loaded onto your Kindle device that you have not read yet?
And how many of them are samples of what sounded like intriguing titles?
This week I deleted 24 ‘samples’ of e-books from my Kindle e-reader device.
All romance fiction. All contemporary. All published in the last 4 months or so.
Like many compulsive readers if I see a recommendation and like a story idea or have read something from that author before I will usually give a book a chance and risk some of my precious time on it. Especially if it is available as an e-book and I can read the opening and download a sample to look at sometime later.
This week was the ‘later.’
But of dear, so many of those books kicked my three personal hate buttons that it was not funny.
In fact it was annoying. I felt disappointed and deluded and resentful of my wasted effort.
After all, I had taken the time to read the details online and download the text and then read the sample to the end – sometimes.
It these had been print books they would either have been tossed at the wall or in the bag for the charity shop in the hope that someone else might enjoy them.
Why? What was it about these books that made me delete them? I noted down three main triage factors:
- main characters that are too stupid to live and for whom I felt absolutely no empathy or sympathy for their situation. So you are a shopaholic and have spent your inheritance on shoes and botox and spas? I don’t care. Get a job. And please – don’t decide to open a cup cake shop/ go back to your sweet home town because your boyfriend dumped you but you cannot bake/want to meet the boy you left behind/your daddy takes off with his secretary and the money. Backbone of wimp flavored jelly.
- heroines who start off as intelligent women then suddenly their IQ falls to below their shoe size because they need something from the hero – loosing your virginity, sperm because their ovaries are calling, saving the family firm by marrying an abusive womanizing psychiatric case whose mummy issues could fill a PhD….yawn, big yawn, bigger yawn. Is it too much to have an intelligent heroine and hero who act like adults?
- plot lines where the characters have nothing to loose so there are no stakes or character arc. So I don’t care it they don’t achieve their goal. Their lives would carry on as before.
Yes. I know this sounds as though I am being very harsh.
But here is the thing.
I know how grueling hard it is to create a compelling piece of fiction so I am usually loathe to criticise another author’s work.
But these are published, edited and proofread books looking for an audience. And I don’t think that it is asking too much that a contemporary romance should pass my three tests.
I have learnt something from this experience however.
This is a crowded marketplace with more books being released digitally every day.
I took the time to give those authors and those books a chance and they failed and left me frustrated that I had wasted my time.
The power lies with readers.
So when I am writing my books? I have to make sure that any reader picking up a sample wants to read the rest and will come back to me and give me their most valuable asset – their time.
So here is a question. What are your must haves when you read the opening scenes?