I usually try to read books written by my friends, but I often fail. Here are the main reasons why.
If you make friends with enough unpublished writers and stick around a few years, you find yourself friends with a lot of published writers. And because you’re a supportive friend, that means a lot of books you want to buy and read.
I always start with good intentions.
Usually I manage the first step quite well.
The second step is harder. The third even harder.
Please allow me to offer some possible explanations why I haven’t read or reviewed your book.
I have too many books on my TBR list and not enough time
Right now I have 27 pages of unread books on my kindle. At 10 books per page, that’s 270 books.
But it’s worse than that. Some of the “books” are in fact collections of three, five, or even a dozen full length novels.
Sure, I read quickly, but I spend less time reading when I’m working intensively on my writing, as I am right now. It might take me a week to finish a book.
Yes, I’m five years away from getting through my TBR list.
(And that’s just on my kindle. I also have a library of dead-tree books that I plan to finish one of these days.)
Also, assuming $3 per book, that 27 pages of unread books is… Eek! I’m not going to think about that.
So maybe I’m going to read your book, I just haven’t yet.
It’s not a genre or style I enjoy
If I got to your book, I might have decided it wasn’t a genre or style I’d enjoy.
I tried to read it anyway, I promise. But by the 2% to 25% mark it was clear nothing good would come of me soldiering on.
You need me to elaborate? Sure, I can do that.
If I’d forced myself to finish:
- It would have taken a REALLY LONG time. Like a year.
- I wouldn’t have enjoyed it.
- I would have had to stammer and lie if you ever asked me if I liked your book.**
- I wouldn’t have been able to write a review.
- Puppies would have died. And no one wants that.
** Okay, this isn’t quite true. I would tell you the truth, but only if you insisted at volume multiple times that you really wanted to know. Because even though you know taste is personal, it still hurts.
I won’t generally tell you if this happens, because it contains no useful information. Should you change your book because it’s not to my taste? Of course not. Does that mean other people won’t like it? Not at all.
All it tells you is that I’m not your audience.
Your book was not good
Not your book, obviously, the book of a different friend.
I feel bad even suggesting this. You’re a good person and you tried really hard, therefore any book you write is good.
Writing is a skill that takes work to acquire.
You must convince a reader to stick with people they’ve never met, who don’t exist, in a world that may not be real, and whom the reader can neither see nor hear. For four hundred pages.
While the cats demand to be fed, dinner needs cooking, and the Twitter notifications pile up.
This is a BIG ask.
You might not hit the nail on the head with your first book. Or your second. There’s a learning curve. It takes practice and paying attention.
We’re all learning, some of us are just further along than others. I started out terrible. I like to think by now I’m less terrible. There’s a good chance you’re the same.
Perhaps by now you’re brilliant–some of my friends are.
But perhaps that’s not until next week.
So maybe I tried to read your book, realised it was sadly lacking in plot, character, or prose, and quietly set it aside.
If you really want to know if this was the case, ask me. Several times. Convince me you can take the truth and I’ll give it to you. Nicely, because I’m nice. And with suggestions that will increase the probability your next book is the one that drowns out the cat’s yowls.
I read your book but didn’t review it
On the other hand, maybe I did finish your book, I just haven’t reviewed it.
There are two possible explanations.
One, it didn’t deserve at least three stars, which is the lowest rating I’ll give.
Two, I’ve been busy doing other things. On reflection, this is almost certainly it.
Do you make an effort to read the books written by your writer friends? Is your experience anything like mine?
Sign up to get my posts and you could be my friend too. I might even read your books.