All of my novels are previewed by a reading group. Its members are well-read straight-shooters who tell me what doesn’t work. These people are “no” men who will say “no, man, that’s not a good idea.” I carefully consider their advice.
Yesterday, one of them called the opening to my new book slow. The jury is out on that.
But if it’s true, do I change the fabric of my novel because of it?
Stephen King said Stephanie Meyer can’t write. Thirty percent of the Breaking Dawn reviews are poor on Amazon. But Meyer’s book is ranked #1 in several categories and the movie adaptations have a rabid fan base. She did not change a thing about her writing.
I asked what makes a solid opening in a Facebook group thread. One member posted “something compelling that makes the reader care” has to happen on the first page. Another sent me to a blog post advising the author to “do it and hope it works.”
So what’s the key? Though people claim to know the key and offer to sell it to you, the reality is there isn’t one. You can’t satisfy everyone, and you don’t have an audience of everybody. Whether or not an audience embraces your novel is completely dependent on rapidly-changing market factors. Publishing is a gamble; it’s never a sure thing.
There are well-written books you will never read because they are poorly-marketed. Likewise, there are poorly-written, well-marketed books that will sell. Writing a plane crash in the first line doesn’t guaranteed it’s compelling.
Here’s my advice: To thine own self be true. Write well, know your audience and satisfy it. Have well-placed confidence in your writing ability. Otherwise, a negative comment from your “no men” or others will have you running back to your manuscript.
Brian Thompson’s passion is motivating and encouraging others to write and to pursue Do-It-Yourself publishing. He is also author of acclaimed Christian fiction thrillers The Lost Testament, and The Revelation Gate. You can read more about Brian by visiting his author site.