Monday, March 7, 2011

Dear Author, I Really Hated...

I thought this week's topic was kind of cute and rather fun. When you read a book do you write to the author afterward? Unless I know the author personally, then no, I don't.

Sometimes, I do pen elaborate ones in my head while reading the book and later when parts of the book still remain in my mind, for whatever reason. Like most consumers, if I enjoyed the book I tell everyone I know. If I didn't, the things I disliked may plague me like a bad taste in the mouth and I will dream of writing the author to tell them my thoughts.

But I don't do it. Why? Well, for starters, who am I to judge them or their vision? Just because I didn't care for it does not mean others won't think it's the bees knees. I read a bestselling erotica ebook author this week and while her writing was well done, I did not care for some of the details she wove in.


You've read my descriptive sex prose and think that's the pot calling the kettle black? 

No, not really. I may write some very racy, sometimes raunchy stuff, but at no point does my work read like a porn movie put into words. And yes, even though my work has been called porn (and smut) by a few, I know the difference because I actually watch porn. Perhaps, those people who called my work porn haven't ;-)

Since picking up the ebook bestseller I mentioned, I can now say I have also read very well written porn. Mistake me not, I thought it was porn and not erotica. But, let's clarify, that is only my opinion.

Would I write to this author? Never, not in a million years. She is making money hand over fist with over a dozen books out, has won numerous awards, and would laugh at me all the way to the bank. I told my husband my impressions today about her work. When I described the scenario he just about coughed up his coffee. "Holy crap, there's a whole genre of porn devoted to that angle. Almost sounds borderline fetish."

Now, before you all spit your coffee out laughing at my hypocrisy, no my husband and I are not heavy purveyors of porn. It's impossible not to know what's out there and what other people like if you happen to be searching for the stuff you like.

Case in point - our very first trip to a Hollywood Hustler (HH) store when we were in New Orleans in November. While completing my overpriced purchase, the cashier asked if I wanted a plain bag or a bag from their store. I laughed out loud. What the hell? I'm on Bourbon Street on a Saturday night at 10:30 and I'm worried what a stranger will think of an HH bag?

"Nah, you can use your bag, it not like you carry midget porn or something and I need to be embarrassed," I said.

"Actually, we do carry midget porn. But it's classic and very well done."

I turned about five shades of red and burst out laughing. Oh! That'll teach me to spout off some quip without thinking!

My point, in a round about way of explaining, is there will always be a market for stuff in erotica I would prefer not to read. Just like the huge market of the adult film industry will have thousands of titles I'd rather never, ever knew existed. Do I intend to write to the author and tell her I would have liked it better if she cut out such and such gross parts? No, I don't.

Perhaps she has a male dominated readership. Perhaps some chicks like the over the top fantasy scenarios that don't have any basis in my reality, and frankly have a bit of an ick factor for me. It's got to be floating someone's boat or it wouldn't be selling.

Back to my original statement from above -- who am I to judge? I can think of no other way to look at writing to an author with any type of criticism of their work. If it's an author I know well, I will point out typos, grammar, and plot inconsistencies if I have the time -- and if I know they would want to know and might fix the mistakes. I've also told them in emails the things I really like about their books.

But mostly, if I have good things to say, I will write a review -- even if I don't know the author. First and foremost I am a reader and if I liked something about a book, I will happily point it out for future readers. If I don't care for it and I don't know the author, I'll keep my damn mouth shut.

As an author, I will not always be able to make every reader happy. There will be those who hate my style, dislike my voice, can't stand my characters, and think my plot sucks. I accept this. But I hope with all my heart, if a reader dislikes my work to the point they'd say "hate", that they choose not to write to me and point out what they hated.

I can't please everyone and I don't plan to rewrite any book to appease an angry reader. I'd tell them to please return the book where they purchased it and get their money back-- and I'd wish them well.

How about you? What would you do if you received hate mail regarding your work? Or have you ever sent a letter to an author that was borderline hostile?


  1. Can´t discuss the erotica question but as for writing to an author, yes I have done it a few times and have had replies, but, I only write to authors of books I particulaly enjoy.

  2. Thanks for commenting, Glynis. I wasn't really thinking people would discuss the erotica angle, after all, that is an individual's preference.

    Appreciate the feedback on the types of letters/emails you send out to authors. Good to know it's not hate mail!

  3. Hi!

    I've thought about writing once or twice...but never had the guts to do it. There is one series in particular that I read last year - it's been out for some time, but I just found it, so I was able to read all of them back to back - love that! But by the third book, the author had some things she did every single time that got on my nerves a little. I was absolutely hooked until about the last chapter, when the BIG BAD-whatever-it-was - was finally finished. The last chapter was devoted to 'fast forward two months' when everything was back to normal, everything was tied up in a neat bow. Granted, it can be hard to bring a reader back down from an intense scene in the book, but this got to be SO anti-climactic and almost harshly abrupt at times, it was very nearly a turnoff to the series. But because the rest of the book was so amazing, it brought me back every time.

    These endings got on my nerves a bit only because there were so many plot twists that left so many good questions, that ultimately were never answered. Things that happened in the beginning of the book, that were seen as major at the time, ended up getting lost through the middle of the book and never addressed again.

    I never wrote in about it, even though I love the series - erotica, plots, characters and all. I did not think it was my place to point out plot inconsistencies when this author is selling so many books, she is quite successful indeed...she must have many people reading her manuscripts and going over those kinds of things. If they thought it was an issue, it would have been fixed before publishing. Plus, this is obviously her style, and if I had that big a problem with it, I shouldn't read the books.

    But I do still tell everyone I know about the series, and this author, because I love her work, regardless of the predictable, bow-tie endings. But you got me thinking now - I should at least go to her website and rave about the books, because I really did love reading them. She should know that!

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  5. Hi Amy! Thanks for commenting! Now you have me chomping at the bit to figure out what series it is you're talking about. I think what you're talking about would drive me crazy too. And depending on how big and successful she is, she may not be taking as much direction from editors as you think.

    Thanks Sharon! I almost picked a midget porn movie cover image that came up when I searched, but I couldn't bring myself to post it. Didn't want to offend anyone and I thought it might be a bit over the top.

    I loved the fan and vacuum one too!

  6. As much as I disliked the way the books ended, for the most part, I really have to say that I *LOVED* the series. I would really hate to give the wrong impression of the books at all, I mean even though I disliked the way they ended, I would still tell everyone who likes this genre to pick up the series! After all, I was hooked enough to want more at the end, don't stop me so abruptly, bring on more! Who knows, maybe that's what helps to hook readers.

    The Anita Blake series by Laurell K Hamilton is the one I was referring to, but I really loved the books. They get quite graphic at times, but I have to say I was addicted. So much so, that when I finished that series, I picked up another one she was working on, Meredith Gentry.

    Unsurprisingly, this series is written the same way, tying everything up at the end, but again - I was completely hooked. Having written for the Sci-Fi channel, attending conventions and having wildly popular books, I suppose you might be right about not taking as much direction. Far be it from me to criticize her openly about her preferred style...especially when I'm hooked anyway!!

    I have one of the coveted FB editions of VV and I can't wait for more from you as well, keep up the good work!

  7. OMG Amy!! I can't believe it's LKH you're talking about!! After the last hardcover book from here being 160 pages (Flirt) or so I swore I'd only get her stuff from the library from here on out. Prior to that I'd bought close to 30 of her books.

    She does have a tendency to have leave things dangling (no pun intended) and let things spill into the next book. I think what annoyed me the most is the pages and pages of detail devoted to clothing or where people were standing in the room in relation to everyone else. It often felt like she spent more time setting the scene then sharing the story.

    After book 11 or 12 I started to tire of the multiple lovers and the ever increasing god-like powers. Enough already! But, over all, she can still tell a damn fine tale when she wants to.

    Oh - and yes, I read somewhere she doesn't use an editor anymore. And when I picked up five or six uses of the word "stroke" in one paragraph I knew it had to be true.

    Very cool you have one of the FB copies of V V! Thanks so much for supporting me from so early on! It's riddled with errors and was edited yet another fours times after the limited editions went out. I keep stressing to everyone it was the rough of a manuscript, but damn, I look back now and shudder I let the 100 or so out!!

    Thanks for stopping back by to clear up the mysterious author and series!

  8. Nah - I can say that I had one of your first manuscripts when you make it big and stop of these days! :)

    Yeah, LKH... "...completed the look..." OR "...completed the outfit..." LOL I bet it's only a matter of time before someone posts how many times she ended a sentence using those phrases. Hundreds upon hundreds, no doubt!

    Library for sure...but damn if I don't lust after Jean-Claude every now and then...

  9. Interesting topic this week. Personally, I would never write to an author to tell them that their book sucked. That's just mean. I've had 1 or 2 people tell me my book sucked in a critique. Ouch! Thank you, DON'T come again. Jerk. LOL.

    I DO tell all my friends flat out what I think about a novel. But they never care - they don't look at grammar or structure or plot the way a writer does. Sometimes I envy them. They can just read for enjoyment and not analyze every word.

    If I know the author and enjoy their work, I make sure to tell them. We all need encouragement every now and then. It's nice to have a fan, even if that fan is another writer. :)

  10. Hey, C.J. I can relate to that Laurell K. Hamilton thing. Her books do tend to get monotonous, but I stopped reading when she let Anita Blake turn from vampire hunter into vampire (and werewolf) lover.

    That would be like Dirty Harry becoming a Quaker. Yeah, I expect characters to grow, but not become Charlie Sheen overnight.

    As you might expect, LKH would not get a thank-you note from me.

    Still, it was an interesting topic this week.

  11. C.J., anyone who would start a letter with hate in the first sentence has no ability with the English language and should be resolutely ignored!

    As the venerable Oscar said "The aim of the true critic is to try to chronicle his [or her] own moods, not to try to correct the masterpieces of others."

    You just keep rolling out your masterpieces... :)