Authors spend months to years writing, rewriting, and editing to try to craft the perfect story. As someone who takes around a year to finish a novel, I can attest to the work and effort it takes. When we finish and the book is published, we hope to find readers who will enjoy and appreciate our stories. While most of us accept the reality that we are not going to get rich from writing, we would at least like to sell enough of our books to justify (to ourselves if to no one else) our continuing to write. We also hope for good reviews and for good conversations about our books.
Since I'm also a reader, I can say that what I want as a reader is a book that will pull me into the world that the writer has created, that shows respect for the reader's intelligence, that is well crafted and edited. My personal preference is for books that have at least one character whom I like, even if that person is on the wrong side of the law, but I do understand my taste is not universal. I want a book that disrupts my life, that I can't wait to get back to, and where the ending fits the narrative.
Sometimes, both sides get what they want.
And sometimes - they don't.
As a reader, I've started many books that were supposed to be good, given it 50 pages maybe a few more - only to toss it aside. That's not a big deal. There are so many good books out there - and I have so many on my bookshelves begging to be read. (Yes, every night, books call - "read me.")
One of my biggest disappointments as a reader is when I fall in love with a series and then the author stops writing it. Another disappointment: when a writer becomes so big that her publisher no longer edits her, and her books become overblown or boring. (No names here.) Even worse: after I invest the time to read an entire book, I hate the ending. (Yes, I write thrillers and I know thrillers mean deaths - but if the author kills off my favorite character and/or kills animals, I'm fucking pissed. And it happens.)
As a writer, I am so appreciative of the people who've read and liked my books, especially those who've given me reviews. (Right now, my latest book is cruising at a solid five-star rating on Amazon and Goodreads.) I love talking with readers about my books, my characters, my writing process.
My disappointment with readers: that I haven't had more. That there aren't more thriller readers willing to try a new author, that readers go time and again to the best sellers, to the celebrity names on books (many of whom didn't actually write the novel).
My latest novel, Bloody Soil, released in November, is, in my estimation and that of most of those who've read my series, my best, and yet, it's had the fewest readers. I wonder if some people aren't interested in a thriller with a Russian-Jewish protagonist whose name isn't an "all-American" name - whatever that means in this day and age - whether some of the Jewish themes turn people off, or whether having neo-Nazis doing bad things in Germany just isn't that intriguing. It's especially painful when someone who read and wrote rave reviews of my earlier thrillers tells me he's passing on my latest because he's only reviewing books that "resonate" with him.
Okay, yes, I know I'm whining.
I don't write "to the market" - trying to stay grab hold of the latest trend in books. I didn't write vampires when they were hot. I write stories that call to me. But there is that relationship with the readers, and that sometimes means a reassessment.
So, I'm writing something different now, NOT a spy thriller or an international thriller. A home-grown all-American thriller about a woman seeking revenge for the death of her daughter and the investigator with a dark past trying to stop her.
Will I write another Kolya Petrov thriller? I certainly hope so. I do love writing him and his world, but reaching a larger readership also matters to me. If I don't write another Kolya novel and the series ends with Bloody Soil, at least it's going out with a bang.
For readers: what do you want from a book and what disappoints you?