The other day reddit had a thread suggesting that Goodreads should have an “abandoned” category for book lists.
This got me thinking. I’ve actually abandoned a lot of books the last couple years. More than ever before. Not always because they were bad books. Sometimes it was time management issues, or just not quite captivating enough. Every now and then I’d get involved in other things and just forget I was reading that particular book.
The are so many wonderful books out there and not enough time to read them. If there was a heaven it might be eternity in a library with every book ever written. (As long as it comes with a Starbucks.) But this isn’t heaven, it’s just Washington. We don’t have eternity, just 80 years or so. So picking and choosing which books to read is sometimes a bit important. I’m going to spend hours or days with this book, I want to enjoy the experience.
I don’t know if an abandoned book tag is a good idea, especially since people won’t be telling you why they abandoned it, but it would be interesting. You might learn some interesting things about a book, or people’s taste, or what keeps them turning the page.
There is a man who documents his abandoned books. In the The Immerse or Die report Jefferson Smith reads until the book has three ‘fatal flaws,’ and then he tells you what they are. This doesn’t necessarily mean that the book was unreadable or that he didn’t finish it, just that it had some major issues that pulled him out of the story enough for it to be a ‘fatal flaw.’
I know some of the things that pull me out of a story are too much foreshadowing, LOTS of grammar/spelling mistakes, inconsistency, and a style or plot so convoluted that I can’t follow it. There are more reasons, but those are the ones that come to mind right off the top of my head.
Why might you abandon a book? Would you want to share that with others? Would you want to know why others abandoned your book?
That last question… I think I’m a little too chicken to put my sorry up for speculation on Immerse or Die. At least for now.
Personally, I welcome anyone who wants to tell me why they abandoned my books, as long as it’s constructive. If someone says, “I don’t like sci-fi”, there’s no much I can do about it. But Jefferson’s Immerse or Die helped me fix a problem in “Shiny New Swindle” that was probably annoying other readers.
As soon as “The Bite on the End of the Line” is edited, I’m going to submit it as well. In some ways, negative feedback can be more constructive than positive.
After “The Bite on the End of the Line” goes through Garrett’s editing I’ll take a look at it. It’s actually on my kindle, but I will admit the editing put me off the first time I tried reading it, though the story itself was interesting. But Garrett is really good at what he does so I have high hopes.
See! Right there is useful negative feedback. If someone had said that a year ago, I might have pushed harder for getting it edited 🙂
I wonder how many people have given up for the same reason, but I’ll never know, because reviews are always from people who finish the book. I always abandon books I don’t like and then won’t leave a review because I didn’t read the whole book.
There is such a negative stigma of leaving a negative review, especially since I’m an author too. So I don’t. It’s safer that way. And then I don’t want to offend anyone so I generally don’t tell people what I think about their writing unless I really love it. (Unless you’re Johnny and Sean because I know they can take it. Even then, someone asked me if the 3 stars I gave Space Shuttle wasn’t super harsh.)
Honestly, I don’t even tell my friends I will read their stuff much unless they are looking for a harsh, but honest answer. You can’t improve if you’re not willing to take constructive criticism. Most of the criticism I got on my stories was “needs an editor” which I knew about so I never took it personally. You can’t, even when someone says your work SUCKS because in all honesty there are going to be people out there who don’t like your work. It’s just the way it works. There are 7 billion people on earth, and they don’t all have the same taste in stuff. (Though you should start wondering if everyone says there is a problem with the actual story.)
Absolutely, there is. For instance, I thought twice about leaving a negative review on “Slum Online”, even though it was just a guy playing a fighting game for 100 pages before I gave up. But without negative reviews, then the Amazon reviews are worthless. I’ve read 4-5 star books from Amazon that needed work.
Hugh Howey said something on his blog post today: That successful indies are making their books indistinguishable from trad books. However, trad books do one thing incredibly well: They put books through the wringer before they’re published. Everyone has their say.
You may hate their business practices, but they rarely put out a book with editing problems like I (apparently) have 🙂
I’m actually thinking I might just do a vlog about it now, since I kind of have too much to say on the subject for a reply 🙂
Don’t worry, we all out up books before editing the first go round. It’s how most of us have to start because editing is a little expensive.
Yeah, I know, but I thought I was pretty good on my own. The start of “The Bite…” for example, had ten rounds of editing, including a writing group looking at it. I really thought it was ready for publishing.
The trouble is money, as you say. I have 2 other published books that aren’t edited, along with 100K for Greenstar in October, 60K for Hard Vacuum 2 in November and potentially another book in December. That’s $6,800 to get edited. Even though it may be vital, I’m not sure how I can possibly pay for that. My car isn’t even worth that much 🙂
You may need a better writers groio
Yeah, I left it a few months after that. A few people were well intentioned, but most were hobbyists and not serious about writing professionally.
Go listen to the rocking self publishing podcast about editing. It was last week I think. They had some great ideas for budget editing and stuff
Will do, Crissy. Thanks for the tip!
Since I didn’t learn to read till I was 11 years old (dyslexia) I used to have the view that any book that I acquired had to be read front cover to back cover and until about 2011 I had read every book on my bookshelf. Including all required textbooks for 3 university degrees. Then I picked up The Bourne Identity from somewhere and discovered a book I couldn’t finish. It took me 3 different attempts (all long haul flights) and I got to about the same spot and went nah can’t read this. I left the book at the airport with a note saying free to good home, hope it found one. However since then I’ve discovered I can leave a book unfinished and not feel guilty – occasionally I go back and finish them and e-format helps, somehow they’re not real books if they’re not printed and on my bookshelf! I’m now going to check out Immerse or Die it sounds entertaining.
I highly recommend Immerse or Die. It’s very interesting. He doesn’t put down the books or the authors or anything, he just matter-of-factly says “this is what took me out of the story.” Good guy.
I can see how dyslexia, or other learning disabilities would change the way you view books. I was just obsessed with books as an escape from a pretty terrible reality, and went through a whole library of sci-fi and fantasy before I left high school. I think the very first one I abandoned was “Jack the Bodyless”. Couldn’t stand it. Couldn’t read past 100 pages and just gave up.
I wonder if everyone remembers their first abandoned book.