Today we welcome our newest blogger, Jim Thomsen. Jim's insta-polls are wildly popular at Facebook, so we decided to have the same fun here at the Blood-Red Pencil. Welcome aboard, Jim.
~~~~~~~~On my Facebook page, I recently asked my friends: "Have you ever read a book knowing that you don't like it, don't respect it and wouldn't recommend it ... yet you HAVE to finish it so you know what happened, for cripes' sake?"
Surprisingly, it was one of my most popular book-related polls. Apparently a lot of readers have felt burned by subpar genre books that delivered just the craft and left out the art. As a result, my respondents almost universally said that they'd never buy a book by that author again.
— Christy R., Loma Linda, Calif.: "Martha Grimes. Used to love her Richard Jury novels. I just dragged myself to the end of the last two, and that's it. I don't care about the crime. I liked her characters. But they jumped the shark, so I followed suit."
— Jenna J., San Diego: "Twilight. I knew I would hate it, but I was beaten and nagged into reading it. Trying like hell to stay in the story, I had a zillion questions I wanted answered, and assumed (silly me) that they would be if I finished. Nope."
— Marty B., Fresno, Calif.: "If I dislike a book, I generally don't finish it. But one I have is Nick Hornby's "How to Be Good," although that started out decently enough."
— Cheri B., Portland, Ore.: "Yes. Call me the eternal optimist, but I always hold out hope there's going to be a turning point when it gets good ... or at least worth the time I have invested in it ... even to the last word."
The lesson here: You probably don't have room in your career as an author for even one sub-par book. As is often said: "It's hard to break into publishing, but it's harder to stay in." And part of that is that readers are unforgiving of what they perceive to be mediocrity. (As opposed to, say, what we might consider mediocrity.)
So, what do you Blood Red Pencil folks say? You need not name names, but do you stick it out with a book that's just not taking off? Especially if it's an author whose work you've liked and trusted in the past? And if you feel burned by a bad book, are you quits with the author, or will you give their next book another chance? How forgiving are you?
Let's hear it.
Jim Thomsen is a news editor for the Kitsap Sun newspaper in Bremerton, Washington. Facing a layoff this fall and the end of a 23-year journalism career, he's trying to launch a new career as an author of crime fiction and nonfiction. He hopes to launch his first self-published mystery novel, "Revenge Island," this fall.