Sunday, January 5, 2014

Please don’t hate the author…

Authors are a fine mix of talent, curiosity, imagination and bravery mixed with a pinch of anxiety and fear.  Okay, sometimes there’s quite a lot of anxiety and fear.  We boldly share what we create from the depths of our heart and soul and while we’d love to say to hell with anyone who doesn’t like what we’ve created, movement towards any type of professional writing success can only occur if we find readers who enjoy our work.  To be really successful, an author has to find many who enjoy their work.

When authors do find a following of readers, it’s a great feeling to know how much others enjoy your work.  It’s amazing to hear readers say they are anxiously waiting for more and the positive feedback helps to inspire the author, especially on any given day when the anxiety and fear want to take hold.
But what happens if an author finds a large following only to later create a story or ending the readers don’t expect or even want?  Readers get sucked into the world of the characters created by the author and become extremely invested in what happens to those characters, especially in a series.  Until recently, I had no idea just how ticked off readers can get if an author decides to go against the grain of what their readers might expect or want in a story.

And it isn’t pretty…
A few days ago I was reading some blog posts, linking from one to the next until I came upon the blog of someone who is now a very well-known author of a trilogy series.  I was reading her FAQ and came upon a post about why she no longer allowed comments to be posted on her blog.  Curious, I read further to discover she disabled the ability for others to leave comments due to some anxiety she had been dealing with.  It saddened me that an author who should be on the ride of her life is also dealing with so much anxiety.  Not stopping there, I moved on to her Facebook page because I thought I might also follow her author page while she continues on her successful journey as an author. 

But what I saw on her Facebook page saddened me even more…
Apparently this author’s large following of fans came from the first two books in the trilogy but the ending of the third book has really set off quite a number of readers.  I was shocked to read some of the comments by so-called fans who now claim to hate this author and said they would never buy another book written by her again.  It was awful to read and after a good number of the same type of comments, I could read no more.

Obviously, many of the fans of this trilogy did not like how the third book ended.  They made that very, very clear.  There were a few people, however, who did give the author positive feedback and who made note of how brave the author was to go against the happily-ever-after ending readers are usually provided with.  It is those positive comments I hope the author pays attention to; rather than the venomous words offered by the others.
While readers usually can expect a happy ending with most stories, that isn’t always the case.  I do get that readers become very invested in what happens with the characters in a series.  I get that they expect to see the characters live happily ever after and ride off into the sunset together.  But like our real lives, stories aren’t always meant to be predictable.  If readers want to read something cozy with a predictable ending, they need to stick with cozy mysteries or romance books that generally end with only warm and fuzzy feelings.  But if readers want to take a wild ride with characters in a new suspenseful series, they need to remember…it’s not the reader’s story.  It’s the story of the characters as told by the author. 

So, please, don’t hate the author.  If the author made the reader feel something, even if it is sadness, it meant the author, through her characters, touched the reader in a very moving way.  That, regardless of what the reader expected, is a talent all authors can only hope to achieve.



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