Sunday, December 18, 2011

Writers & Readers – The New Partnership


I recently had the experience of asking my local library, The Mechanic’s Institute, for a review for my book – something they do for their members. Now I love this library and recommend it for any bookster-nerd who pines for the days of old leather chairs, 20 foot high ceilings with books climbing all the way to the top, balconies full of periodicals, and that special smell of leather and paper mixing in eerily quiet surroundings.

MI was kind enough to stock my book and even offered it up to its review panel. Getting reviewed by former Publishers Weekly editors is not something for the lighthearted, but I have to admit, the private critique wasn’t a surprise. It contained all the standard admonitions: poor use of flashbacks, character growth, relationships, coincidences, terminology, and the dreaded dues ex machina (God out of the machine) – a contrivance that authors sometimes use when they write themselves into a corner…hey miracles happen, right?

Actually, I had to smile when I read the review. The reviewer was very polite and earnest, obviously disappointed in the lack of literary standards in my story. But one of the reasons independent publishing is exploding onto the literary landscape is that we authors can finally tell the stories we want to tell the way we want to tell them – dues ex machina be damned. The gatekeepers lost the keys to the gates and many of them still don’t realize we’re coming through.

However, that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t tell a good story. More important than reviewers and aging standards are the readers. We have to respect the readers and allow them to experience a well-told adventure between the pages. One thing the literary elite forgets all too often is the fact that over the years, readers have been disappearing. They were turning into an endangered species. Frankly, the publishing establishment deserves a large part of the blame. As they were protecting the gates against most newcomers, they were accepting celebrity garbage, political tell-alls, and biographies from 15-minute famers that were more fiction than reality. I mean how much quality writing do you think is in Kardashian Konfidential? But the publishers will rush Ms. K’s trash to the bookshelves in order to cash in on the celebrity factor. How about Justin Bieber’s biography? Really - a bio from a 16 year old?

So what I am thrilled about is that despite the same tired critiques that new authors receive from editors, publishers and reviewers, we can bypass them completely and get our books out there. We crashed the gates and there is no turning back. I get to tell the story I want to tell the way I want to tell it. We’ve cut out the middlemen and are going direct from writer to reader.

Night Flight is in local bookstores whose owners are pleased to have it on their shelves. It is available at all online retail outlets and is selling and getting good reader feedback. What more could an author ask for? In this new era where the reader is who really matters, writers need to seek their acceptance and worry less about dues ex machina.

And lest one thinks I’ve not met my obligation to the readers, here is the very first reader review I ever received from a reader in Canada and is no relation or friend. She awarded it 5 of 5 stars:

“What a great book. Great story and extremely well written. Very good character development and easy to identify with. I can be somewhat of a skimmer but Alessa's descriptions kept me right there with her the whole time. I was sorry to see the book end and I would definitely read more of this writer's books. Loved it.”