The Art Of Giving Readers Power

Kind of a sinister title for a blog post, don´t you think? The Art Of Giving Readers Power– Sounds dark and highly controversial. Well, I can assure you this blog post won´t be dark but I can´t guarantee this will be a controversial free read. That will be for you, as a blog visitor or as a dedicated follower, to decide. Either way, I hope you enjoy this topic as it´s been something I´ve thought about for quite some time.

The Art Of Giving Readers Power

One would think that readers are silent, harmless human beings. They don´t have any sort of power because they´re the ones at the end of the bookish stick. Readers and book bloggers just read and sometimes write reviews.

 

 

Many have failed to acknowledge the fact that readers are actually the ones who hold the imaginary golden fountain pen when given permission. 

Now, I know what you´re thinking. And you´re partly right. But hey, it´s okay.  Just know that I´m going somewhere with this post. Back to the imaginary golden fountain pen wielding readers.

When I say ” when given permission” I mean when authors consciously include their readers in their writing process or ask questions on social media regarding a new idea.

Sometimes we see posts that look something like this:

“If I were to create a Hero who has a temper, would you see the Hero as someone who´s abusive?”

“I´m writing a book. What would you like to see happen in this book?” 

Of course, these questions could be seen as an act of kindness. Maybe an author wants to honor their dedicated fans by letting them pick a direction for the author´s story. Or perhaps an author has lost their writing mojo and needs a little inspiration. You know, that certain push to get things rolling again.  Whatever the reason- Authors are giving readers the opportunity to give their input. Is this is a smart move? I think it depends on from which side you´re seeing this. 

As an author, I can imagine that having a reader´s input is extremely helpful. 

As a reader, I can imagine the excitement when an author asks for an opinion.

All this looks like a win/win situation for everyone. That is… If one wishes to see it that way. Personally, I´ve tried seeing author questions on social media as something special but failed because I can´t stop wondering about the reasons. 

Why on God´s green earth would an author want a reader´s opinion? Have they run out of ideas? Isn´t that the worst thing an author could do? I mean, authors come up with a story and write it. Is it necessary to listen to the crowd? 

 

The Art Of Giving Readers Power

Authors are artists. Some are desperately trying to make a living off of writing. Some writers are barely keeping the dream alive while others are still trying to set foot in the business. Let´s not forget that it´s 2020. We´re living in a fragile time where it isn´t as easy to be a self-published author as it was 10 years ago. Readers certainly aren´t the people they used to be. Even feedback has changed. 

Book feedback in 2020 is either extremely good or extremely hurtful or the feedback doesn´t make a whole lot of sense. “I´m giving this book 2 stars because the ink on page 23 was smeared.” * sigh * Sadly, decent feedback isn´t as popular as the extremes, so they often go unnoticed or are immediately forgotten. 

There seem to be three main types of reading tribes. The ones who´re overly sensitive. The ones who´re fairly neutral. The ones we don´t know exist because they don´t hang around social media. A pissed off reader will do all they can to voice their disapproval. Negativity spreads faster than a wildfire in our community. 

Some authors tend to think they can´t afford to receive negative feedback as this would jeopardize book sales. They can´t take risks in an already hot environment. 

And that´s what it boils down to- Book sales. At the end of each day, the artist needs to make a living. In our world, it´s become easy to offend and trigger people with the simplest things. In order to prevent that from happening authors ask their fans/readers questions and therefore give power. It´s also about keeping the existing fanbase happy. 

I agree- Greater crimes have been committed. It´s also good to mention that not all self-published authors take this route. But isn´t it still sad that many do?  

 

“If I were to create a Hero who has a temper, would you see the Hero as someone who´s abusive?”

This is clearly an author who´s unsure about how their character will be perceived by their audience. The author is aware that abuse is a trigger topic but doesn´t see their character as someone who´s abusive. To avoid future backlash they decide to ask a reader, thus giving a reader power. Imagine the author has a little over 1000 online fans/followers. 100 are regularly active but only 20 react to an author´s question regarding their work.

20 readers say that the author´s Hero is, without a doubt, an abusive asshole ( without having met the character ). The author has two choices at that moment:

    Not create a character with a temper

    Make a note to include abuse as a trigger warning
You see, the power had already been unleashed the moment the feedback came in. 20 readers voiced their opinions. 20 readers were enough to change the course of a potential bestseller. 20 readers are enough to fill an author´s mind with doubt. 

And because this system had proven to be useful for an author they repeat it. Authors are then unaware that they´re allowing their readers to influence them. In the end, readers will feel empowered that they made a change for the better. A change that wasn´t necessarily better for everyone else. And the more this happens the more changes we´ll see with writers. 

Tough subject, right? 

Now, I know there are readers/fans and authors who´ll find this whole blog post appalling. There´s no doubt in my mind that someone is reading this right now, cursing me from the comfort of their homes, for even having entertained this absurd thought. And that´s fine. 

There are readers who prefer when they´re asked for their opinions to make their reading experiences as pleasant as possible. And, of course, there are authors who are all too willing to cater to their readers’ needs. Which is also fine. I might not agree with that, but okay. 

Still, one simple fact can´t be ignored- It´s all about money. It´s all about sales. The dream needs to stay alive. Whether it´s a question about characters, the plot, content warnings, or even about the blurb… I don´t think it´s the best idea to ask about these on public platforms for everyone to see and leave a comment. 

In my most humble opinion, I believe it´s important for authors to write about what feels right for them. Writers create stories for us to read. They challenge us with their thoughts and ideas and push boundaries. Authors aren´t out to destroy their readers’ wellbeing in any way. I have yet to encounter an author who wakes up in the morning and thinks “Today I´m going to fuck em all over so they end up needing life long therapy.” I don´t believe that. Just as much as I don´t believe any reader has a right to think that authors SHOULD write stories the way they want them to be. Creativity should be encouraged and celebrated. Not restricted. 

The Art Of Giving Readers Power

Reviews from readers are powerful on their own and should be enough to help an author make any adjustments ( if necessary ). Social media should be used to interact with fans/followers in a fun way. But that´s just my take on the topic. 

Nonetheless- I wish each and every author all the success in the world. 


What are your thoughts?

Do you think authors should ask for a reader´s opinion?

Have you seen an author ask similar questions on social media? 

Let me know in the comments below. I´d love to chat. ❤ 

 


Thank you for reading this blog post. I truly appreciate it.

Keep sharing the book love,

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Art Of Understanding Book Blurbs

Just recently I had a brief Twitter exchange regarding blurb information.

The question went something along the lines of: Is it okay for an author to withhold possible important plot elements from a blurb? A simple question. Simple, but not easy to answer.

And in that short moment, I thought to myself “Book blurbs- What a great topic to dive deeper into.” And what a great topic to have an opinion on.

This question isn´t anything new. Blurb discussions have been combed through before, but thankfully, not as often as any other book topic has. So let´s get to it!

 



I think it´s safe to say we all know what a blurb is. Or do we? Do we all know what a blurb is for? Are blurbs important? Is there a word limit for blurbs? How much story information is too much information? Are spoilers allowed? And most important: Is it okay for an author to withhold plot elements from a blurb? These questions deserve answers.

Any reader who´s looked up a book has been confronted with a blurb. But unfortunately, not many know the difference between a blurb and a synopsis. It´s not a crime to not know one from the other as an everyday reader. An average reader will simply think of a blurb as a story description or, as my friend always says, “That bit on the back.”. It´s not even a sin if book bloggers and authors confuse one for the other. But it would be helpful if people in the book world knew the difference between a blurb and a synopsis.

 

Let´s Introduce The Blurbnopsis

 

An easily made mistake in the self-publishing niché is when authors write blurbs for their books and end up creating something in between a blurb and a synopsis without realizing it. This isn´t, by any means, career-ending, but it happens. It may be because an author doesn´t know how to write a blurb or has difficulty writing one. Maybe they asked for advice and were misinformed. Also, some writers don´t know the difference between a blurb and a synopsis. A blurb is supposed to sum up the main aspects of the story without giving too much away. It´s a sales pitch because an author is trying to get a reader interested in their story. A synopsis is a whole story ( including spoilers ) in a nutshell. A story crammed into anything between 500 words to max. 2 pages. A synopsis is written to send to publishers, agents, or ( if self-publishing ) to book cover designers and marketing gurus. Pretty easy, right? It´s pretty easy to unintentionally mash the two together if you don´t know the difference or if an author isn´t sure about what to include in a blurb or not. But not every author who writes their own blurbs are clueless. 

 

 

To include or not to include…

A blurb can come in many different lengths. I´ve seen mysterious ( and often cryptic ) one-liners. I´ve seen blurbs that come pretty close to short stories ( with a story beginning and end ). Then there are the blurbs that give just enough info to tease a reader without spoiling the whole story. Which one is considered to be the perfect blurb?

Well, a blurb is generally 150 – 200 words short. So, technically, something in between the one-liner and the short story would be great.

A writer has the chance to give a 200-word sales pitch- Words that will lure a reader in to buy their book. But does this really work for every author/ for every book? In some cases, authors feel that 150 – 200 words aren´t enough to make a story sound appealing. 

This is a tricky aspect of a blurb: How much of a story to include or not. Because a blurb can make or break book sales. When writing blurbs– What should be included or not? What parts of a story should be mentioned? 

Well, from what I know, the information in a blurb should consist of these points:

  • The stage setting
  • Character introduction
  • Situation reveal
  • Problem/Threat reveal
  • Adding what´s at stake

The idea of a blurb is to reveal enough to catch a reader’s attention without revealing any essential plot points. There has to be a hook.  Without a hook, a reader can´t get hooked. (I´m feeling my poetic side tonight ) It´s hard to believe that many authors think that readers need more information in order to grab a reader´s interest. Yet, it happens. Quite a few authors and readers feel that 200 words aren´t enough. 

 

 

Additional plot elements in a blurb can be considered spoilers…

And this is the point where the blurb trickery continues- A spoiler is when essential plot elements are revealed in a blurb. But since it´s 2020 and most people have created their own definitions of many words it´s hard to determine what a true spoiler is and not. Hell, it´s hard to know what people understand when they hear/read the word essential. We shouldn´t be asking questions like ” What is a spoiler?” anymore. Instead, we should start asking this version: “What do you think is a spoiler?” 

If we step back and look at this whole blurb issue from a distance then we´ll see that a blurb is, in fact, sort of a spoiler. It´s a spoiler that teases. A sort of bullet point guide to inform a reader. Without the blurb, none of us would know jack aside from the little information a title and cover image gives.

So, are additional plot elements in a blurb spoilers? I´d say yes. If it´s not necessary then it shouldn´t be included. Yet, for some reason, many readers aren´t satisfied with many book blurbs because there´s a lack of what some readers deem `crucial` information. This so-called crucial information could be anything from up or down the scale. Thanks to our ability to misinterpret words and our wonderful ability to give feedback ( which is often based on our emotions ) we´ve made it hard for some authors to know where to draw the line between spoilers and adding essential plot elements. An author may know the difference but since many cater to their readers’ needs they tend to give in to not disappoint. Authors don´t want to make mistakes. 

 

 

Fit For A Blurb Or The Content Warning Box?

Another issue would be- To know what crucial information is vital for a book blurb and what can be shoved in the content warning section. There´s a high demand for content warnings in the fiction world. Withholding any type of `significant` information of a story could possibly aggravate an existing fan base and/or new readers. Many readers think certain blurb information is more suitable for the content warning box.  It´s for an author to know and decide which goes where. But then again… This is a war that can´t be won, so the point is rather arguable. 

So, how do authors solve this blurb problem? After having done so much homework on the topic I´d say authors have two choices:

  • Write a blurbnopsis ( blurb + synopsis ) in order to please the existing fan base and potential new readers
  • Write a blurb and move on

Because a blurb is what grabs a reader’s attention in the first place. It´s as simple as that. There is no recipe to follow. There are only guidelines that can be followed or ignored. 


I can´t say for sure if the blurbnopsis or blurb approach is the best because I´m not trying to sell a book. I can only share with you what I prefer when checking books out. I´m more of a less blurb is more type of person. I prefer the element of surprise, even if the story ends up being a total miss for me. I´ll take that chance over the “safer option” any day. Because, at the end of the day, there´s no guarantee for anything.

When I´m hunting for books and I happen to stumble upon a blurb that includes way too much information then I feel my curiosity level sink and I will move on to a different book. But that´s just me and my weird self.

How about we find some real answers to all the questions I presented above?

I can easily answer with: A book blurb is necessary. But the size and length depend on the story and the author ( or publisher ). It also depends on the genre and readers. Yes, I included readers because it´s 2020. One might not think readers are capable of shifting an author but.. they do have that power over some authors. Feedback, for as lovely and necessary as it is, is a double-edged sword ( more about that in my Should Authors Be Crowd Pleasers? )

Are book blurbs with spoilers okay? In my book, yes and no. If the word count in a blurb is around what´s considered to be normal then I have nothing against a spoiler. If the blurb turns out to be a synopsis then I´ll be like “Thanks for saving me time, money, and effort to buy your book.” 

Do I think it´s okay for an author to withhold plot elements from a blurb? Yes. If I were an author I´d strive to want to surprise my readers. I´d like for my readers to be excited instead of dreading the unknown. Thankfully, I´m not an author, so…  I don´t have to make decisions on whether or not to adjust the book blurb guidelines for whatever reason.

As for including too much information– I think many authors are far too generous when it comes to their blurbs. By offering more information they´re basically shooting themselves in the foot.

But as I said above- This is just me and my weird views. There are plenty of readers who prefer a blurbnopsis. There are countless fiction readers who´d rather know exactly what a book is about than experience a story with having a rough outline of the story. 


What do you think? Have you noticed a difference when it comes to blurbs? Which type of blurb do you enjoy seeing- A short one or a blurbnopsis? I´d love to know your thoughts on the subject. ❤ 

If you enjoyed this blog post then I highly encourage you to leave a like and a comment. 

Hope you have a wonderful book-loaded day.

Much love,

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

That´s Bookish Interesting- A Book Trigger Warning Site

When people ask me what´s it like to be in the book blog community I always give the same answer:

It´s interesting.

Because it is. Sure, it´s great fun to mingle with the book crowd and read/review and “research” on social media…  There´s always something new happening in the book blog universe. Just recently I stumbled upon something that caught my bookish attention. A site called Book Trigger Warnings.

Book Trigger Warnings is a site that´s dedicated to readers who´re looking for `safe` books to read.

Aah, okay.

 

 

In theory, not a bad idea. Some readers are sensitive / get triggered when reading potentially distressing material. Also, this idea offers insensitive readers, who´re looking for specific triggering elements, a way to feed their needs. The site can be seen as a win/win for both reader parties. 

In practice, though… This won´t be a simple thing to manage. Especially in a world where close to everything can be considered a trigger.

I won´t lie- I have mixed feelings about this site or any other site that promises `safe` options. I also don´t see the word `safe` anywhere near books. I can´t say I´ve met an author whose first priority was to write a safe book.

I accept a reader´s wish to want to read books that won´t trigger them. But where does the trigger list start and end?

Another concern of mine is: Most books already have trigger warnings. These are often included in online book descriptions ( either provided by a publisher or author ) or inside books. To include more trigger warnings would mean to reveal more information about the story. From my point of view, this means we´re moving further away from trigger warnings and closer toward spoilers. Not that I have anything against spoilers ( spoiler fan here ) but there are people who´ll literally threaten others if they mention more than what´s been printed on the backside of a book.

 

 

I can´t help but think about what book trigger warning sites do for authors / self-published authors ( or won´t do ). It´s no secret that most are already struggling with the trigger topic. Because trigger warnings influence sales.

 

  • Add no trigger warnings = Some readers could get triggered
  • Add a few warnings = Some readers will be triggered 
  • Add a generalized warning = Some readers will be triggered
  • Add any/all potential topic as a warning = Some readers will be triggered

 

A triggered reader will most likely leave a negative review. Negative reviews have the power to persuade potential buyers. So, an author is convinced they have to include trigger warnings for their books to not jeopardize their book sales. So far so good. But what if I told you that half of the triggered population isn´t genuinely triggered? Maybe they just don´t approve of certain elements in stories and demand to be warned?

The bottom line of all the points mentioned above is: Whatever happens, there will be triggered people. And there will be negative reviews. These can´t be avoided no matter what.

I applaud the people managing Book Trigger Warnings and wanting to provide safe reading experiences for their followers. It’s a genuine concept that targets a certain crowd. But I´m having a hard time wrapping my head around this topic.

We´re living in a world where people aren´t satisfied with walking away from something they don´t enjoy/like/approve of. The sole purpose of a book has always been to educate and entertain readers. By creating lists with `safe` reading options we´re helping readers stay in their comfort zones and unconsciously pressuring self-published authors to rethink their ideas for their future stories/to work harder on including the right trigger warnings.

Non-fiction can be a challenging genre for some readers. For readers who genuinely become emotionally distressed- I think the Book Trigger Warnings site could be helpful. It could also work the other way around for readers who live for emotional wreckage. But I truly believe many will misuse the site and that will take its toll on the publishing and self-publishing world.

Of course, I could be completely wrong about this topic. But then again, there is no right or wrong when it comes to trigger warnings. It all depends on the individual reader.

Despite my mixed feelings, I wish Book Trigger Warnings all the success, love, and chocolate cake in the world. May their site be as helpful as they hope it will be.

 


What are your thoughts? Feel free to leave a comment if you agree or disagree. ❤


Sending everyone lots of book love!

Have a wonderful day,

The Art Of Pronouncing Book Character Names

Book character names– You just gotta love them. Even the ones you´re not sure how to pronounce.

As avid readers we´re often confronted with characters who have standard names. Whether they´re gender-specific names or gender-neutral… a reader has a good chance at pronouncing a book character´s name correctly. I mean, it´s hard to verbally butcher Dylan, Michael, Daniel, Gabriel, Cole or Samantha, Jessica, and Mathilda.

But then we discover a book that has characters who don´t have standard names. That´s when things can become tricky for a reader.

I´ll admit that I belong to those people who have problems pronouncing unique names, especially when reading fantasy. Usually, I just go along with whatever pronunciation I come up with and continue reading. My mental pronunciation of a character´s name is final no matter how often others try to correct me. I can´t help it. It´s like I´ve set my version of a name in stone.

 

Let the mental name pronunciation games begin ( and end )!

Fantasy authors love to give their characters that extra something. That particular sprinkle of special to make him/her/it stand out from all the others. They could be bold and fierce, beautiful, and deadly… They could kill demons and stare into Medusa´s eyes without turning to stone. That someone can´t be named Jimmy or Candy ( apologies to all the Jimmys and Candys IRL. Y´all are awesome in your own right ). The deadly warrior has to have a name that lives up to their reputation. They need a name that´s unique. So, what some authors will do is either take an existing name and tinker with that or they´ll play around with the alphabet- Creating names 50% of the reading population can´t pronounce.

From what I´ve seen, many of these difficult names often have the letters Y and H in them. Not to forget the hyphens, tildes, a slashed O, and sometimes an umlaut. For anyone who isn´t familiar with these letters or special characters ( for lack of a better term ), any name would be hard to pronounce correctly. It´s a challenge.

But do not fear! Not all authors leave their readers clueless. Some authors have pity with their readers. Some books have a pronunciation guide. Personally, I find this semi helpful. Most books include this little addition in the last few pages. Meaning: when the story has already been read. This means a reader who was unsure about a name spent 2-7 days mentally pronouncing a name wrong. The books that have a pronunciation guide in the first few pages are more helpful.

Unique Names Aren´t Tied To One Genre Only

Unfortunately, the fantasy genre isn´t the only genre that has difficult to pronounce names. We see this happen in romance, YA, historical, etc. Names can sometimes match the setting of a story. If a story takes place in Norway then I do kind of expect to see typical Norwegian or Norse names. For me, there´s no greater challenge than trying to pronounce a Gaelic or Norse name, especially when authors pick the most difficult name known in the history of names. The tongue twisters. The names even the natives can´t pronounce correctly. These names often leave me with no other choice than to come up with another name for the character.

Yes, I´ve occasionally given characters that had difficult to pronounce names other names. I´ve done this mostly because I was fed up with the guessing game.

Feyre, the main character from Sarah J. Maas´s A Court Of Thorns And Roses quickly became Fey. Just Fey. Feyre could be pronounced Fire-re or Fairie, right? The correct pronunciation, though, is Fay-ruh.

Laoghaire, a character from Diana Gabaldon´s Outlander, became Longhair. How was I supposed to know the correct pronunciation is Leery? Laoghaire looks more like Longhair than anything else. I´ve been calling that character Longhair ever since ( and funnily enough, no one has corrected me ).

It´s understandable why many authors decide on odd/unique/special/ancient/made-up names for their characters. These names aren´t easy to forget. They leave a lasting impression. Of course, this leaves me with a whole lot of questions for authors. Questions that´ll most likely stay unanswered. But that´s okay. I don´t really need to know why some names exist. I also don´t need to know if authors expect their readers to come up with the correct pronunciation from the get-go. Still, I wonder….

So, what´s the best way to go about this issue? I have no clue. I´ll stick with doing what I´ve always done.


What about you? Can you relate? Do you occasionally have problems pronouncing book character names? Which name has been the most difficult to pronounce? Let me know in the comments below. I´d love to chat. ❤


Thank you for reading my blog post. I totally appreciate it.

Feel hugged,

Thank The Books It´s Friday

Hello and welcome back 

to

Thank The Books It´s Friday!

 

Boy, what a week it´s been, huh? Makes me really want to sit back and drink a whole bottle of wine alone and just think about how peaceful life is… offline. Let´s bring out the Friday squirrel to celebrate the weekend, shall we?

 

 

And while we´re at it, let´s hope no author on Twitter decides to make ungrateful statements for the next… I don´t know… 5 – 20 years? Possibly never again?

I´m sure you´ve seen the recent book Twitter shit-show created by the ( to me very unknown ) author Elizabeth Bear.

 

 

A kind reminder to people who tag authors in book reviews. How thoughtful. How ballsy. How generally rude.

Of course, I disagree on so many levels with this statement. The whole tweet is just a load of bullshit. It´s generalized and targets everyone in the book community. It´s also not specific enough. Are we talking all review posts or just the negative ones? I haven´t learned the art of sniffing out the specifics yet so it would´ve been slightly helpful if the author had been more clear instead of presenting a limited and highly unprofessional tweet.

This tweet caused quite a bit of a stir in the book-Twitter community. Book bloggers, authors, and even readers stepped forward to voice their disapproval. I can´t blame them. The tweet was a virtual slap in the face. Oh, speaking of face slaps… After having followed the thread for some time I spotted something even more disappointing.

 

 

Neil Gaiman, too?! Bitch, that burned.

 

This is, without a doubt, a touchy subject. It shouldn´t be, though. For all I know, the majority of the book blog community isn´t fishing for praises, compliments or even acknowledgment when tagging authors in positive review posts. Tags aren´t meant to cripple authors emotionally or piss them off.

I mean- sure. Authors have the right to voice their opinions. Go ahead and do your worst. But if that means pissing off a huge chunk of the book community then I´d say that´s not the way to win new readers or keep the ones that´ve been loyal ( indirectly waving at you, Neil Gaiman ).

A piece of advice for Elizabeth Bear: Try not to speak for all authors next time. Also-socializing is wonderful but not mandatory. A simple mention in your bio would´ve prevented a whole lot of backlash.

 

 

Uugh. See? A royal shit-show. People, we´re not even halfway through February and there´s already drama. I recently made a bet with a fellow book blogger on when the next literary shit will hit the fan… My bets were on late Spring, early Summer. * sigh *

 

So what else is new?

 

Oh! I´d like to give a loud Fuck you, very much to my daughter´s friend and their mom for giving me and the kids Scarlet fever. I´m on day 4 with a temp of 39°. I feel like I can fry eggs on my skin at this point. To be honest- I never thought adults could catch the Scarlet fever. I was wrong. I was also wrong to think this would pass quickly. As of now, I´m sofa bound with nothing to do but snooze off a few times during the day from being so exhausted and suffering during the night. Yes, dear friend´s mom… I hate you with a passion.

I decided to go online book shopping tomorrow. Deep down I know it´s just frustration shopping but at this point- I don´t give a rats ass.  * purposefully ignoring the stack of unread books next to me *

 

That´s about it for this week, my dear bookish Padawans. I hope you didn´t suffer too much through this minor aggressive post. My apologies. I´m not feeling so hot. I´m actually burning!

 

Before I go: Did you watch the Twitter show? What are your thoughts on the author´s tweet? Should authors make such demands? Let me know in the comments below. I´d love to chat ❤

 

Sending out lots of health and great positive vibes!

Enjoy your weekend.

Much bookish love,