I’m donning my reader’s hat today…
1) Trust – yep, I’ve said it before. But, I hear from pretty reliable sources that repetition is the key to remembering – your readers have to TRUST you. Tell me a story. Make it worth my time. Let me know you’ve done your best work, polished it, believe in it, and then you sent it out into the world. Let me know, within the first five minutes, that you value my time. Sorry, that may make me a high maintenance reader, but I have to trust that are going to take me somewhere that is worth the trip. I may not like your writing style. I may not like the subject or the setting or your use of symbolism. BUT, if I trust you, I respect you as an author.
Why is that important?
A) Even if I don’t like this story, I will try another one by you if I trust your storytelling skills.
B) I may not like your story, but I probably have friends who are readers who will love your genre, style, setting, and if I trust you as a storyteller, then I won’t hesitate to pass along that information.
2) Entertainment – If you’re going through the sweat and struggle of writing, editing, revising, polishing and publishing your story, make it entertaining. Avoid the back story dump in the first paragraph. Plant me in the middle of the action. Don’t give me the color of everyone’s dress in the scene, unless that has something to do with the plot. Don’t name every person who passes through a scene. Cut the fluff and give me the goods!
3) Grammar – Man, oh man. I’m not referring to using fragments for attention grabbing purposes. That’s excellent. Keep doing that, as long as it works in the story. I’m referring to subject-verb agreement, and things like spelling and word choice errors (spell check doesn’t know you meant “from” instead of “form”, but the reader does!) Know what commas, semicolons, and dashes do, and use them correctly. Thank you (stepping down from my soapbox)…
4) Creativity – avoid clichés. That’s it. That’s all folks. Avoid clichés, and your readers will thank you for it.
5) Authenticity – if you don’t like vampires, it probably wouldn’t be a good idea for you to try to write next best selling Vampire Love Story. Your readers can tell the authors who are passionate and the ones who are going through the motions.
6) Flow – maybe you detest outlines. That’s your call. Maybe you think that planning stifles your creativity. Again, that’s your business. But, before you send your story out to the masses, please make sure your story flows. Don’t leave any holes for me to fall into while I’m reading.
7) Presence – You don’t have to be on Twitter or Facebook or Linkedin. You don’t have to blog. But, when I finish your story, and I LOVE it, I want to know that I can find out more about you and your works right then. I don’t want to have to drive to the bookstore (if there any in the area) or library and hunt you down. I want to find out more about you as soon as I finish your book. If I am a fan, I want to be able to start reading your other books IMMEDIATELY. Don’t make me wait or hunt. I’ll find someone else who won’t.
What are the deal breakers for you, as readers?