Hey guys, a few quick thoughts today and a little announcement.
Yesterday I hit a major milestone in my writing career. My latest novel, Singularity, really took off from the free giveaway I did last week which propelled me into the top 100 on Amazon UK! It stopped and held at #74 for most of the day. Can't be more pleased right now, just thought I'd share since I'm still riding high. Currently it's ranked #108 and is #2 in horror, horror thrillers, and police procedurals.
Now onto the important stuff. The idea for the post today has been hovering in my mind for some time and I never really realized it was a substantial thought until now.
What does it mean to have a reader's trust?
This question might be more difficult to answer if you're an author than if you're a reader. I know, I know, if you're an author then you're a reader, but sometimes I think authors get sidetracked with the million other things that go into writing a book, and that's fine. In fact if you do most things well in writing a story then you don't have to worry as much about your reader's trust, but in any case here's just a few of my ideas on what the answer to the question above means.
- Trust is a hydra isn't it? When you trust someone you have a multitude of feelings toward them: love, security, and confidence are just a few. This is the same for an author writing for an audience. You want your readers to love you, love your words and the way you put them together. You want them to feel secure and confident in where you're taking them. They invest their hard earned money in something you're selling and you have to deliver. This brings me to the next stage of the question.
- What does a reader expect from an author to gain trust? I would say the first thing would be a well written story. This means great characters doing interesting things with many twists and turns resulting in a satisfying ending. I think a reader has to see closure on every aspect of the book to have confidence in an author. There can't be major plot holes or characters that act out of character for no apparent reason, and the ending has to make sense. Now note I didn't say it had to be a happy ending, it just has to make sense. If you have these things you can move onto the next aspect.
- Editing. Your story must be well edited for a reader to trust you. You can't have commas thrown in at random like a punctuation grenade went off in the middle of the page and your sentences must be complete. On a wider stance, your scenes must drive the plot onward instead of treading water ; a reader always wants to move forward, deeper and deeper into the story. If your novel is edited well and flows you're doing well.
- Genre. This one's sticky and I find myself ruminating on this quite a lot. I like a wide array of books but my preferred genre is horror. Anything within that area is my comfort zone. Transitionally, that's what I like to write. But as an author at times I want to spread my wings a little and test out new ground. If I stray too far from where my readership expects me to go, they might be upset after they purchase my book and it's no longer horror but a guide to pruning desert cacti instead. This said, an author has some range within their preferred writing zone. My first novel was a ghost story, my second a police procedural with horror underpinnings, my third will be a dark fantasy with elements of horror. If I wanted to write said cacti trimming book, I would most likely have to publish under a pen name. Again, that's just my opinion but I think most authors would agree with me.
- Quantity of books. This is your own pace type of thing. Everyone writes at a different speed. As an independent author I have more control over my release dates. All I need to do is write the book, get it to my editor and beta readers, make the correct changes, and publish. In this arena I can realistically publish 4 titles a year at my writing speed. This is my promise to readers: you'll have a new release from me every 3 months unless something catastrophic happens to me or my family. An author might publish 4 times a year or once every 3 years but the reader comes to expect a pattern from them. I would say this is the last arm of trust, or head if we're still speaking in terms of mythological multi-headed creatures.