Turning Away Customers

Do your readers feel welcome?IMG_7468 adj 2to3

by Andy Scheer

Do you feel obliged, once you start a novel, to finish the story?

I blame my childhood. At meals I was taught always to clean my plate. Somehow that sense of obligation extended to my reading.

So I’m choosy about what novels I begin. Does the back cover promise a story that’s worth several evenings? And does the craft of the opening page suggest the author knows how to assemble a story?

But sometimes I take shortcuts. Especially with authors whose books I’ve read. I expect that another installment in a series means similar quality.

Perhaps I view a book series
like any other franchise.

Perhaps I view a book series like any other franchise. I recently visited two recently opened outlets of a favorite store that’s just come to Colorado.

The closer store had almost no parking. Of the four items on my list, they were out of stock on three. So I tried the other store. Inside, music blared to the point of distraction. And they also had just one of the items I wanted.

Now I’m on my guard. I’ll likely return, but I won’t be as eager—or optimistic about my chances of success. And if I speak to others, any recommendation will carry cautions.

Much like my assessment of the author whose book I just abandoned.

I’ve always liked the genre (back when her books were sold as mysteries; the latest was labeled a “novel of suspense”). The stories are set in a town I know. And the author often describes delicious meals. I was ready to love this book.

But the characters felt flat. And the stakes never seemed personal. The characters went through the motions, as though they were strapped into a theme park ride.

Theme parks are okay, but I expected something more. Next time, if there is one, I’ll have lower hopes. Or look for a novel from an author who’s still hungry.

About Andy Scheer

With more than 30 years in publishing, Andy Scheer has provided freelance editorial services since 2010. He has edited fiction and nonfiction for publishers including Moody, WinePress, and BelieversPress, as well as for clients including Dirk Cussler, McNair Wilson, DiAnn Mills, Heather Day Gilbert, and Sammy Tippit.

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