By Jody Hedlund, @JodyHedlund
In about a month another one of my books, Rebellious Heart, will start making its way into reader hands. Sometimes it's hard to believe that I'll have FIVE books out there. It's exciting, but also a little scary.
It's exciting to be reaching a point in my career where I'm not debut anymore, where I'm more seasoned and growing accustomed to the published author life.
At the same time, it's also scary to have another book going live. It's always unnerving around release time waiting for reader reactions, praying fans will enjoy the new story, and hoping that those who don't like it won't be too harsh!
I know that not every book I write will resonate with all my readers. In fact, the bigger my readership gets, the greater the chances that I'll disappoint more people. It's inevitable.
Even if we do our best to craft a page-turning, heart-wrenching, riveting story, authors can't hit a home-run with every book.
I know this because my favorite authors don't always wow me with every single one of their books. In fact, occasionally after reading a book by one of my tried-and-true's, I come away disappointed. Not often. But it does happen.
Usually, when I come away from a book like that I just shrug my shoulders and say, "Oh well. I'll probably like the next one better." I don't give up on an author just because one book didn't resonate.
For example, I recently read The Goose Girl by Shannon Hale and I loved it. For a young adult historical fiction, it was a beautifully written and enthralling story. I tried another by Shannon Hale, Book of a Thousand Days, and it just didn't grip me the way the first story did. I'm not giving up on Hale's books just yet. I'm still going to try at least one more.
But that begs the question: How many books do you read of a favorite author before you give up on them, before you move on to someone else? What are some of the reasons why a reader might be tempted to stray from an author they love?
1. The subject matter of their stories no longer resonate.
This is probably one of the top reasons I stray from a favorite author. For whatever reason, the stories don't grip me anymore. It could be because I've changed in my tastes, my needs, or my priorities. Or it could be that the author is writing about topics that just don't interest me the way previous stories did.
2. The author changes their writing style.
Whether they get bored or simply want to keep things fresh, writers may incorporate new writing techniques or styles into their books. Sometimes those changes grate on readers who are already comfortable and familiar with the writing style of the author.
3. The author switches to a different genre.
The old rules about authors having to stick to one genre for branding purposes are changing. Numerous authors are dabbling in more than one genre and having success in each. However, if a favorite author completely switches genres, especially to a genre I don't like, I probably won't follow them to that new genre.
4. After multiple books, an author looses originality and their stories all begin to sound alike.
This has happened to me for a number of authors I like. Usually I take a break from the author. And after time away, I can go back to that author and enjoy him or her again. Even so, I appreciate when authors take the time to come up with fresh stories, new twists, and original characters time and time again.
5. The quality of editing goes noticeably down.
Sometimes best-selling authors are given more freedom with their stories. Editors may ease up (especially with content edits) thinking those authors have won a permanent place in reader's hearts and thus no longer need as much input. But with the plethora of books out there, it's all too easy for even die-hard fans to put aside their favorite authors because the stories haven't had the help needed to take them from mediocre to great.
6. Trends change.
Genres tend to have cycles of popularity. For example Vampire books became very popular after the Twilight books came out. New authors sprang up following on the heels of Stephanie Myers. But eventually after gorging themselves on that genre, readers are ready to move on to the next popular genre, finding new favorite authors and leaving old ones behind.
What about YOU? How many books do YOU give an author before giving up on them? What are some of the reasons why you stop reading a favorite author?
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