I was lucky to get two places on a Goodreads group’s R4R (read for review) in close succession. So, I offered my newest release “Swordplay” and “Urchin King”. Surprisingly, the copies of “Urchin King” went fast while the ones for “Swordplay” have still not all be claimed. This got me thinking.
Don’t get me wrong, I like “Urchin King” but I like “Swordplay” better. The world is much cooler, and the characters leave more room to grow over the series (that’s one reason why I decided to make a series out if it). Also, there are so many lovely sidekicks that can have a cameo in the next volumes. But if the R4R is representative for my readers, I might be wrong.
Am I still the weird one out? I know I was when I was a kid, always reading, loving school, living in the middle of a forest with no interest in shopping or make-up. I was never one to fit in easily. But does this apply to my books too? Are they too much out of sync with the rest of the world? Is that the reason why I’m not making a living from my books (yet) despite the fact that I have seven well written (according to my editors) books out there (plus short stories and one audiobook)?
If you’ve read even one of my stories, please let me know what you think. Especially if you’ve read “Swordplay” (or even just the sample on amazon), please tell me if I’m right or wrong to turn this into a series.
I don’t get this discouraged often, but when it hits, it hits me hard. Please help.
14 thoughts on “Am I weird?”
I haven’t read Urchin King yet (although I do have it), and I only read the first bit of Swordplay when you put it up on Wattpad. I have read Scotland’s Guardians, though, and I’ve also got a few more of your books waiting for me to read them. Also, and I want to state this up front: I will keep buying your books and reading them, and this is simply because there are several things about them that I like, things that I consider more important than any reasons I might have for not finishing one or two of your stories.
When it comes to Swordplay, here are the reasons I didn’t read more than just the first part:
1) I’m not into detective stories. Even if they have fantasy. Someone would have to be really sneaky to get me to read/watch a detective story (Artemis Fowl counts, in a way, as one of those, and The Dresden Files are intriguing me, despite myself). This is just a me thing, and has no reflection on you and the quality of your writing.
2) While I do tend to like your stories, I don’t always like your prose. It’s not that there’s anything wrong or incorrect about it. It’s just that there’s something a little more workmanlike about it than what I prefer, and this came out rather strongly in the bit of Swordplay that I read. This might come from a combination of English being your second language and my appreciation of the subtleties of written English in fiction, resulting in my not finding all the little things that delight me, things which even native speakers spend years figuring out how to do. I’m, um, not sure how I’d address this, as I’m still in the stage of figuring those things out.
3) Your prose also has a tendency to be quite dense. This might be a German tendency (The Neverending Story and the books by Cornelia Funke also lean in that direction, although they avoid being too dense, possibly due to the translators pulling out handy little tricks in getting the English to feel like what the German intended. I’m not sure), but I’m also nowhere near fluent in German, and I haven’t the slightest idea what’s celebrated in German prose that’s different from what’s celebrated in English prose, so I haven’t the slightest idea how to address this.
And that’s it. It had nothing to do with my objecting to your quirkiness. I actually quite like the premise but, like I said, detective stories have to be really sneaky and draw me in with other things that I really like before they can hook me in.
And now, to make this comment even longer, I wanted to end with why I read Scotland’s Guardians all the way to the end and enjoyed it (despite the fact that it did still have some of the qualities of your prose that I don’t necessarily like):
1) The idea was cool. I love me a good premise.
2) The story was quirky, especially in ways that I enjoy, and I grew to love some of the ways that aren’t always what I look for in quirkiness.
3) I liked the main character, her interactions with people, the decisions she made, and the way she reacted to all the craziness around her.
4) The creatures were cool, and I hadn’t heard of all of them. Being an avid reader of basically anything I can get my hands on that has to do with mythological creatures, I absolutely love it when people put creatures in their stories that I’ve never heard of, and when they do things with those creatures that are both novel and respectful of their mythological history. And you did both. 🙂
So, to sum up: It’s because of your weirdness I love your stuff. Absolutely, and without question.
Also, despite my having reasons for not reading Swordplay, it’s pretty obvious that they’re mostly personal reasons and that other commenters love it. Plus, I can see a lot of potential in it as a series (actually, I can see potential for a series in Scotland’s Guardians, too, if that’s something you could see doing. *hint hint nudge nudge*), and I think it would definitely benefit from there being a longer story, one done in multiple instalments. So, go for it. You might even manage to grab me with it as you write more. I’m 100% open to that happening. 😀
I very much appreciate the great feedback I’m getting from all of you. That’s terrific. I know about the denseness but I hate purple prose and for me, that might mean something very different from what’s purple prose for you. I think you might be right that it’s possibly a German thing.
P.S. The Neverending Story and the books by Cornelia Funke belong to my all time favorites.
Cat, I was reading a (long) article on mult-lingualism and the globalization of English and thought of this comment thread. This paragraph particularly caught my attention:
“A few years ago, Jean-Paul Nerriere, a former marketing executive at IBM, formulated a boiled-down English for non-native speakers he called ‘Globish’ (in characteristic Globish fashion, the term has since propagated). Unlike artificial languages, such as Esperanto, Globish is considered a practical tool rather than a new tongue. It feeds off a very restricted but existing terrain of words shared by non-native speakers of English. The future for English as world lingua franca might be something similar: a watered-down or mongrelised user-friendly offshoot where nuance and lyricism are redundant.” (article here: https://aeon.co/magazine/world-views/why-i-want-my-children-to-be-bilingual/
I have to agree with Thea’s assessment of language use and what makes my aesthetic-sensors ping as well. I hadn’t figured out just why I’m not exactly “your reader” until Thea said it. For me, beautifully nuanced and skilled language use do not result in “purple prose.” There’s a difference between overly ornate (for ornament’s sake) and artistry (which can be very simple). Keep in mind that I’m personally coming at the things I read as someone tuned to poetry’s voice and a love of the lyrical.
These are subjective considerations, to be sure, but maybe all it means is that your audience is made of individuals who first and foremost want a particular type of story told in an up-front and minimalist way.
I wonder if knowing this can help you hone your marketing?
By the way – I hope you have a blast in Texas – it’s gonna be a great HTTS gathering!
Maybe it’s simply that I’m not much into poetry. I consider most poetry “purple prose” even though the term is probably not used correctly. It more like trying to tell things with words that don’t really make sense unless you’ve felt somehting similar already — in wich case why trying to tell it in so many words? I was never much touched by poetry (with a few exceptions) or by song lyrics although I like playing around with language. That probably reflects in the way I write. I like fast paced with little fluff. But since I’m writing for readers from 10-16 (mostly), I don’t think that’s really an issue, or is it?
I don’t think it’s an issue at all, Cat. 🙂
In fact – knowing what you do about what you like puts you in a great position for being able to focus on your target audience.
So, it’s proven – it’s not that any sense of “weirdness” turns people away from one text and toward another. The dilemma, though is that it’s hard to find 10-16 year olds involved in Goodreads’ R4R!
I know but at least I’m getting some reviews. And most of the reviewers there will put their reviews up on amazon too. I find it hard to reach the audience I’m striving for anyway. I might have to get more active on YouTube and Pinterest but they’re an even worse time sink than FB and Goodreads… 😉
At least, I’m not feeling down any more. In the end, everything comes down to taste. Even marketing.
First of all, weird, in my world, is a compliment 🙂
Secondly, I don’t think you can go wrong (as a certain someone keeps telling me…. ahem) writing what YOU need to.
I’m glad, though, that you have astute readers like Anna who can point out possible reasons people might be choosing one book over the other.
Keep going, Cat – don’t let the sense of being the “odd one out” hinder you. I’m very familiar with that sense – and it’s at fault for my slow progress with putting anything out “there.” But we’re all going to have to overcome that and, personally, I’d be really bummed if you let it get to you because what would that say about me? 😀
Thank you, Wendy. I think everyone has moments of doubt and I’ve been hit by a lot of negativity lately. I think I’ll go to be early today and get back into the swing of things tomorrow. And I personally thing weird is good too. At least it doesn’t mean I’m dumb. 😉
So first off, you appear to be associating “weird” with lack of success. Or with feeling badly.
That was your first mistake- probably closer to the opposite.
I think the point made about the series versus standalone is 75% of the remaining explanation, for reviewers. For readers, I think it would be a different story, but there I wouldn’t be too surprised either. Because- cover! I happen to love a good sword (you tricked me big-time with that one!) but the cover of Urchin King tells you a story right there. It’s the classic thousand words- so while it shouldn’t make any difference to how good either tale is or how much folks would like them, for the purchase decision I think I could see why UK would beat Swordplay all hollow.
Thanks for the encouragement, Will. As always, you’re spot on. Hugs.
It could be partly the fact that Urchin King has this on it’s Amazon blurb: “”Urchin King” was a semi-finalist for the “KBR Best Indie Book 2012″ award.” Gives it a little air of prestige 🙂
Also, as a reviewer, I’d have preference for reading/reviewing a stand-alone novel than one that’s in a series. For one, the reviewer might feel obliged to have to review the whole series (even if you don’t ask them to) and for another, many books in series tend to have annoying cliff hangers or hanging story arcs which force readers to have to buy the second/third/etc book. (I haven’t read Swordplay so I wouldn’t know if this is true) At any rate, reviewing a book in a series has a higher investment on the part of the reviewer so this R4R may possibly not be a good representation of your readers.
Sign up for the A to Z Challenge now!
Thank you Anna. I never thought about it that way. Of course, since I hate series with cliffhangers, I’d never write one. My stories are always self contained even if they are part of a series, but others can’t know that. I should probably make that more clear in the blurb too. Maybe sales would pick up then…
You’ve clearly given me something positive to think about. Thank you.
I haven’t read the Urchin King but have read SwordPlay on Wattpad and thoroughly enjoyed it and can see it as a series. It could be that it is a ‘slow burner’ and will come in to its own in time. To be a writer of any description you have to be a little bit out of the ‘norm’ but that’s not to say it is weird. I would prefer to think of you as unique so please keep writing!
I won’t stop. Truth be told, I can’t stop. Thanks for your support.
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