Remember the new crime novel by Marnie Riches that I told you about the other day? I enjoyed it so much, and I was very flattered to be asked my opinion early on. But it’s heartstopping stuff, this being asked. Because what if you DON’T LIKE THE BOOK?
There was a time before Marnie, when I was asked under very similar circumstances, by someone I knew about as well (although someone I hadn’t met in person) as I did her, and whose earlier book I had read and liked, and I was both keen and far too unsuspecting. Both of the book, and of its author. And as I began reading my heart sank and I wondered how I could 1) go on, 2) tell the author anything useful but still sort of truthful.
It was amateurish beyond belief, with wooden characters (although you could tell you were supposed to love one of them) and a pretty clichéd plot. Nice setting, though. I persevered, because this was not a book by a stranger. (Except, of course, it was.)
By some miracle, 11% in (on a Kindle you know these things) it changed for the better, and I mean really good, like someone had clicked their fingers for some magic. Luckily the loveable one died, but you were obviously still supposed to mourn this death.
My feedback was far politer and kinder than what I’ve just said here. But I felt I had to offer my thoughts on the 11% simply to explain why I reckoned this author had yet to interest anyone at all in the book; be it an agent or a publisher or anyone else. If they read what I read, they’d not want to go further, and would never reach even the 11%.
My comments were welcomed and I was encouraged to say more. I did. Well what a mistake that was.
So basically, don’t ask for what you don’t want to hear. And even if you love your character, it doesn’t mean they are the bee’s knees or that everyone else will want to be their best friend.
But the premise for this crime novel was really pretty good, and if a professional editor could get their hands on the 11% without having their head shot off in the process, I could see a future for the book.
What worried me about Marnie’s book [before I read it], were the circumstances of how I was asked, and the fact that the two stories share some basic facts. It was eerie.
(Reko is Swedish for a decent sort. I ceased to be reko as soon as I opened my big keyboard and let the advice flow. Silly me.)