The Shit Writers Tell Each Other…

I’m currently watching a discussion that I’ve seen happen before where a writer is asking about taking a series of books that are currently wide and putting them into KU for a bit.  (For those who don’t know, to have your books available in KU you have to pull them from all other distributors.  So no iTunes, Google, Kobo, B&N, etc. while your books are available to borrow on Amazon.)

Keep in mind, these are books that the author says aren’t exactly selling at the moment. (Although, honestly, I’m not sure that’s relevant to the discussion.)

Anyway, there’s already been one author and there will definitely be a second (because it’s her site and I know her opinion on this) telling this poor person who is just trying to sell their books that if they pull their series from being available wide that all of their readers who read them wide will hate them forever and never read them again.

Now, maybe that’s true for people who have a rabid and devoted fan base who buys everything they release on day one and check back constantly asking when the next one will be out.  (You know, the GRRM and Patrick Rothfuss type of fan.)

But fact is most writers are forgettable even when readers read our books and enjoy them. Or if not forgettable, not so memorable that readers would develop a personal grudge against them for using different distribution channels at different points in time.  As a matter of fact, I’d expect that the only ones that would even notice that had happened were other writers.

What do I as a reader do when I’m thinking of getting a new book?  I go to the bookstore.  Do I see a book by an author I like?  Yes?  I buy it.  No?  I buy something else.  That’s typical reader behavior.

But you know who does notice something like that?  Other writers.

And who do authors talk to more, their readers or fellow writers?  Fellow writers.  And boy do writers have opinions! (Half of which are unfounded gibberish based on limited personal experience. And I include myself in that description.)

Think about this…

I can point out to you a good hundred writers I’ve seen criticize 50 Shades of Grey and/or Twilight either at conferences or on forums.  To the point they were foaming at the mouth in outrage that such dreck could possibly be published and loved by readers.

Funny, though. Readers loved those books.  I’d be happy to write a book so hated by fellow writers and loved by readers.

That’s just one little example of the many, many times I’ve seen writers give strong advice on something readers don’t even care about or notice.  Or, better yet, feel the exact opposite about.  (I’d probably tell Nora Roberts not to head hop in her novels but I suspect that head hopping is something her readers love.)

So, you know, ask fellow writers for advice if you must, but just keep in mind that after a few years at this they really aren’t thinking like your core audience anymore and nine times out of ten you’ll be much better off asking a few readers what they think instead.

About M. H. Lee

M.H. Lee is a speculative fiction writer currently residing in Colorado whose stories are sometimes dark, sometimes funny, sometimes darkly funny, but hopefully always thought-provoking and entertaining.
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