Tuesday, February 1, 2011

THOSE DREADED “OUCH!” MOMENTS


ASSAULT WITH A DEADLY GLUE GUN has been on bookstore shelves for about a month now. I’m ecstatic over the reviews I’ve received so far and feel like I’m experiencing a never-ending Sally Field moment -- They like me! They really like me! However (hey, you knew there was going to be a “however,” didn’t you?), every once in awhile Google Alerts will send me to a link that makes me cry, “Ouch!”

These “Ouch!” moments are usually reviews from readers, not professional reviewers, and they make me wonder. Why would someone continue to read a book she obviously didn’t like from the outset? Why buy it in the first place? My book is a trade paperback. The retail price is $14.95. If I’m shelling out that kind of money for a book, I make sure it’s a book I want to read before I hand over my credit card. I not only read the back cover copy, I read at least the first few pages, if not the first chapter, before getting in the check-out line.

Even if readers are buying a book online, they have the ability to read a bit of the book before purchasing, if not from the online retailer, then from the author’s website. Most authors will post an excerpt of their books on their websites.

Maybe the reader received the book as a gift and didn’t have the ability to exchange it for something more her taste. Regift it, I say. I guess I just don’t understand why someone would take the time to read a book from cover-to-cover that she’s decided by the end of the first chapter she doesn’t like. The only logical explanation I can come up with is that the reader is suffering from OCD and is incapable of not finishing the book, no matter how much she’s disliking it. And I suppose the slam of a review is my punishment for her inability to stop reading something she doesn’t want to read.

Or maybe I’m the odd person here. What about the rest of you? Do you feel compelled to finish every book you start, or do you only continue reading a book if you’re enjoying it?

15 comments:

Keith Raffel said...

Lois, starred reviews from Booklist and Publishers Weekly. Two 5 star reviews on Amazon from readers. Not a shabby start!

Lisa Bork said...

These days I only continue reading if the story is holding my attention. I used to finish every book no matter what, but I think that was a holdover from being an English major where I had no choice but to finish.

May I suggest turning off the Google Alerts?

Dru said...

With too many books to read, if by the third chapter, the book hasn't grabbed my attention, I turn to the last paragraph to see the outcome and then donate to the library.

Lois Winston said...

Keith, believe me, I'm not complaining! Just wondering. I rarely have time to do all the things I'd like to do, much less continue reading a book I'm not enjoying.

Lisa, turn off Google Alerts? Tempting but as authors we also have to be business people and part of the business is keeping abreast of what's happening with our books. I learned ASSAULT WITH A DEADLY GLUE GUN was sold to Thorndike for large print by a Google Alert. I'll put up with the occasional "ouch" for the good stuff I learn.

Dru, I like the way you think. Half the time, though, if the book isn't grabbing me by the third chapter, I don't even care how it will end.

Sue Ann Jaffarian said...

I have a stack of unfinished books because I couldn't get into them. I sometimes give a book a second shot, unless I really disliked it. I'll put it aside and pick it up again in about six months and see if I still feel the same. Usually, I do, but sometimes I discover it was just my mood at the time when I first picked it up.

Alan Orloff said...

In the old days, I'd AlWAYS finish a book I started (except the ones I was forced to read in HS English class--those I had no trouble putting down). Now I figure life's too short. If a book isn't doing it for me, I quietly put it aside and pick up another. Lord knows, I've got a few lying around!

Lois Winston said...

Sue Ann, mood does play a factor in whether we like a book or not, but I usually pick up a book that suits the mood I'm in at the moment I want to read. Sometimes I want something light and humorous, sometimes more thought provoking.

Alan, as an adult I've tried some of the classics I couldn't stand as a kid. Some I still can't stand, but others have been a pleasant surprise. I don't know if it was that I wasn't ready for such books back then (which would surprise me because I was a rather precocious reader) or that I just balked at being forced to read something I didn't want to read at the time.

Beth Groundwater said...

I'm someone who gets great satisfaction from gaining closure--finishing a task. However, I've gradually come to the realization that there are too many great books in the world that I'll never have the time to read, so why wait that precious reading time on a book I'm not enjoying. I usually give it three chapters, but after that, if I'm not engaged, I put it down and pick up another one on my TBR pile.

Darrell James said...

Lois, like Alan, I usded to read everything to completion. But these days, it takes me about a minute to decide if I'll read a book or not. I have to like the author's voice from the very first paragraph or it never makes it out of the bookstore.

Lois Winston said...

Beth, my feelings exactly!

Darrell, I couldn't agree more. Voice is what draws me to a book, too. When I'm browsing the shelves, if I'm not drawn in immediately by the author's voice, the book gets reshelved.

G.M. Malliet said...

Did you know you're on the cover of Mystery Reader's Journal this month (your book is).

Lois Winston said...

It is? I'm still waiting for my copy to arrive in the mail. I knew ASSAULT WITH A DEADLY GLUE GUN was going to be featured in this issue because the theme is crafting mysteries, but I didn't know it was on the cover. Cool! Thanks for telling me.

Alice Loweecey said...

I give a book 50 pages/3 chapters. If it hasn't grabbed me by then, I give it up without a qualm. I have too little free time to spend it on a book that doesn't grip me by the throat and demand I finish. :)

Mark said...

My thoughts on this are getting too long. Let me send you an e-mail instead.

Mom said...

If I've purchased the book, I'll finish it in the hopes that it improves. That said, I very rarely post a negative review because most times it is just my personal taste and not any fault of the author. To balance the bad with some good, here's a link to my review of your book: http://momsaga.blogspot.com/2011/01/assault-with-deadly-glue-gun.html