Friday, August 3, 2012

Great writing or FAB Sex? Can't I have both, please?



Recently a high profile blogger in the romance world stated that "we" readers are willing to put up with so-so writing if the love story is satisfying.
I had to re-read that. Many times.
If we agree that the definition of "satisfying" is one the blogger would have to clarify and I note for you here that she did not define her term, then we can move on to her general statement and critique it.
Are you willing to read a mediocre work to get a high from the romance or the erotic aspects of it?
My answer is no, I am definitely not willing to "put up with" poor writing.
And while some readers might be looking for a quick fix or the Happy Hump, I am looking for a great story along with my HH. Specifically, with romantic suspense, I am looking for the crisis and plot structure and an intelligent mystery that tell me I am thrilled. With historicals, I am looking for the accuracy of time, place and milieu as well as dialogue. With contemporary cowboys (especially because I live in cowboy country), I am looking for accuracy of character, dialogue and contemporary issues like Mexican cartels, gun-drug-prostitution and drought issues.
Yes, we all know that the indie side of the industry (as another industry blogger has put it) has shown us that the lack of gatekeepers has permitted, if you wish to call it this, a "race to the bottom" in quality. (Not my terms.) But it is still possible to see what an author is offering in quality and what a house is doing in terms of finding and editing talented authors.
How to find quality writers and their stories?
1. FREE is the new price point to find new authors, even those who are print/traditionally pubbed.
I must get 3-5 emails per day and ever so many Tweets announcing these offers.
I do take advantage of some, not all, of these. Some do not interest me, along the lines of: So little time, so many authors, etc etc.
But for those that do intrigue me, I bite. It is easy to download and very quick to ascertain if this author has what I want for my limited time of enjoyment each day.
Confession?
I have downloaded quite a few books that I have deleted within 5-20% of the book.
I can tell ( and so can you) if an author understands POV, bad grammar, poor dialogue, info dumping and lack of research.
I can also tell a lot about the publishing house, too. If I find a house has poor formatting (which drives me up a wall), or no copyeditor. Worse, many houses will sign on authors who are frankly very new. Especially in erotica houses, I find most of their books offer up just a lot of Happy Humps. Great, if that is what you want in your reading. But I could go to a BDSM club or rent a few porno flicks and get a similar high. All in how you want your entertainment delivered I guess. But for me, reading is a time to be quiet, serene, become entertained and perhaps informed, to be regalled by wit and fine prose. Reading for me is an experience that brings me a HIGH which comes from stimulation of the brain, not simply the thrill of the fire down below. I want to know why people belong together in bed and out.
So I will say This Reader wants quality with her romance and erotica. I want to read and be absorbed. I do not want to have to figure out the POV, or if this dialogue is his or hers, or where we are in terms of place or time!
Worse, I do not want to do the copyediting, putting in the comma at the right place or closing the dialogue with double quotation marks or fixing (as I recently did with one book that is still on the NYT list, all her misused ellipses!!!!)
2. Sales at 99 cents and more are the new new upscale pricing points that denote other authors worth trying.
I will certainly spend 99 cents to try an author who is new to me.
Stats show this is true of millions of others.
What we are now seeing in sales analyses across many vendors is that anything up to $2.99 really sells a book, an author and has significant impact on his/her backlist. Any price point above $5.99 is not useful. Publishers have learned this and offer, often for limited times, their books at lower rates. Many offer the first in a series at a lower rate.
3. Trading books too is a great way to find new authors. Dubbed Word of Mouth, this is a great litmus test for good and really really bad.
Now Word of Mouth is easier with the profusion of tablets/devices and lending programs. This means that I can discover new authors whom my friends and family like—and do it quickly.
Heretofore, this was possible only if I bought the book and gave it away after finishing or told others to borrow it at the library.  Both either involved time or money.  Now, with the challenges to the library systems in the USA, this too becomes problematic.
Recently, a good friend of mine and I hooked up our iPads to each other's and gave each other more books than my eyeballs will ever read in this lifetime. But let me just say, her recommendations (and some of them were negative ones) were intriguing. Yes, I was intrigued by her negative reviews of some she gave me and those books (I use the term very loosely) along with the blogger's statement with which I began this post inspired me to write this ditty.
4. Reviewers really do not tell me about the quality of the writing and we know some of the old truths such as "everyone's a critic" and "what's good for the goose, is not..." often good for the next goose.
In fact, I find only a few reviewers whose assessments I trust. And I do mean people not sites.
So what is your take?
Do you demand good writing with your fiction?
Or will you take something other and call it worthwhile entertainment?
This inquiring mind wants to know!

4 comments:

S. J. Maylee said...

Interesting post, Cerise. I agree. I want both. I too have found a reviewer I can trust. She likes both too, helpful. I need to pay more attention to the publishers, there are patterns there for sure.

Tammy J. Palmer said...

I'm a picky reader. With so much to choose from it has to be really good for me to finish it. I think good writing is even more important with erotica. I downloaded a free vampire e-romance once, and couldn't stop laughing at the sex scenes. I don't think that's what author intended.

Delicious Romance From Cerise DeLand said...

S. J., I am with you. When you find a reviewer who values what you do, you stay with her recommendations.

Delicious Romance From Cerise DeLand said...

Tammy, I think it pays to be a picky reader! So many choices, but so little time to read everything and that means whatever we choose to spend our time on, it better be good, eh?