Some time ago, I read a post in a forum from an author discussing reader comments about one of their stories. I guess the reader had either not read the story or had missed the point. What interested me were responses to his post. Most replies said writers should not let reader’s comments bother them, which is true—but the number of writers responding that they don’t even read the comments was higher than I expected. I disagree with that—especially as a new author.
Comments on my books are a learning tool for me. Perhaps the best lessons I learned was in comments for Transition.
Many complained about Transition’s length—that I could have ended it shortly after Kevin admitted his love for Ansely. Thinking about it, I had to agree… I ignored proper story construction—I should have concluded the story shortly after the climax, but didn’t. I didn’t want to stop telling a story, although I could have–in a sequel. Other readers complained about the length of the chapters in Transition. Most chapters were 10 to 13 pages or more.
An acquaintance at work expressed it best by telling me the end of chapters were like a commercial break on TV. For TV, commercial breaks gave her a time to do something like get a snack, and chapter breaks gave her time to sleep. “Honey, a chapter’s a mini-story in the book’s big story. Bad enough your book takes forever to read, and I have to stop in the middle of it—but you also make me have to stop in the middle of a mini-story so’s I can sleep!”
I love telling stories. Publishing has been a lifelong dream finally achieved. But it’s not worthwhile unless people enjoy what I write and want to come back for more. Some stories I tell may not interest some, and they’ll move on to other writers—I can’t change that. But I can change the way I tell a story you want to hear so you’ll enjoy it. I get windy, and your comments have convinced me to change.
As for Parched Earth, Green Corn: Warrior… last Christmas, I said my drunk self had let the story go to hell. The story needed a lot of work, and I’ve spent the past 9 months correcting it to make it enjoyable. I apologize I dropped the ball, but hope you’ll find the time worth it. I am in the final edits now and hope to have it soon.