Second Chances by L.C. Hayden
The book has received an overwhelming amount of praises. Some even hailed it as Connelly’s best work. I couldn’t wait to read it.
The book? Michael Connelly’s 9 Dragons.
As an author, I planned not only to read 9 Drangons for pleasure, I’d read it as a student learning from a master.
I rushed to the store, bought a copy, hurried home, and began to read it . . . and hated it.
Surely, something wrong within me prevented me from enjoying the book. Maybe I wasn’t in the mood to read a mystery? Highly unlikely, but what else could it be? I set the book aside.
Several days later, my enthusiasm returned. I felt ready and eager to tackle this book. I tried picking up where I had left off. Then I realized I couldn’t remember who the characters were or even the plot. No matter. I’d start at the beginning.
I did . . . and hated it.
But this is the Michael Connelly, a master of words. King of suspense. I forced myself to continue reading. Three months later, I still hadn’t finished the book. Often, I’d find myself reading words instead of sentences. Many times I had to go back and re-read the pages I’d already read.
Just about four months after I first started reading the book, I finally finished it. I had forced myself to read the entire book, an experience that didn’t bring me pleasure. Thinking of all those wasted hours, I wondered why I had been so determined to finish the book, but even before the thought formed, I knew the answer. I read it because this book was written by a Big Name Author. No other reason.
That got me to thinking. Is this fair? Had this book been written by a new or an unknown author, would I have tossed it after the first 20 pages? Yes, most definitely.
I mentioned this to a friend who loves to read. She looked at me and said, “I find myself doing the same thing.”
Her answer shocked me. I wondered about other readers. Are we all alike? I conducted a small survey and sent it to 100 readers scattered throughout the United States.
The majority—88%, to be precise—said that they give all books the same chance, regardless of who the author is. Sally from Kentucky said, “I don’t care who wrote the book. If it doesn’t appeal to me, I trash it.”
Most who made similar comments added a big but. They may toss the book aside, but after a cooling-off period, they return to it if a Famous Author wrote it. The readers admit that they give the well-known author a second chance, but not so much the new or unknown author. Maggie from Colorado said it best. “I give Big Names a second chance—and often a third chance—because I figure they know the craft better.”
One amusing fact that surfaced in this survey is that not the name, but where they got the book influences their decision as to whether to continue reading. If the book came from a library or was a free download, the readers are more likely to toss the book. “But if I actually purchased the book, I definitely give it a second—even a third—chance,” said Theresa from Florida.
Also, most went on to say that they’ll give an e-book a second chance, but not a traditional book. “I don’t have to worry about finding a place to put the book while I’m deciding if I want to give it a second chance. I have my handy e-book reader, and there the book is waiting for me to make up my mind,” Nancy from South Dakota said. “A traditional book is different. I don’t have that much storage space, so I simply toss the book.”
Ten percent of those surveyed claimed that Big Name influences their decision in the opposite direction. “I figure that an established author should know better. If they wrote a mediocre or a bad book, I toss it faster than one written by a new or unknown author,” Cathy from Maine said.
The vast majority, 99%, claimed that if they didn’t like a particular book, they’ll give the author a second chance by purchasing one of their other books. “It’s just too hard to find a reliable author to throw one away for one bad book,” Korey from Pennsylvania said.
As for me, I promise to give Big Name and Small Name authors the same chance. If the book doesn’t grab me in those all-important opening pages, I’ll toss the book. There are too many great books out there for me to waste my time on a book that doesn’t grab me.
What do you think? Are you more likely to finish a book if the author is well-known or are all authors equal opportunity?
L. C. Hayden is the author of the award winning Harry Bronson mystery series. Her latest release When the Past Haunts You is a finalist for Left Coast Crime’s Watson Award. The first book in a new mystery series introducing Aimee Brent, Ill Conceived, is scheduled to be released in June. She invites you to be her Facebook friend at Lc Hayden and Tweet her @LCHayden1.
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