Friday, 3 December 2010
Novels need readers
A novel only half exists until someone reads it. The reader completes the process the author began, which is why it's so very unsatisfactory to be an unpublished writer.
I hadn't fully realized this until I self-published Remix. I'd got intimations from members of YouWriteOn and Authonomy who read and reviewed the first few thousand words, but until members of the public choose to pay for your book and spend hours of their time reading it right the way through, you don't know how important this is. These people have a different approach to fiction from writers, agents and publishers. They don't care if you have POV switches, or if your novel doesn't neatly fit into a genre; and no one has told them that books about rock stars never sell. All they care about is whether it's a good read; whether it holds their attention and entertains them for a few hours. Their priorities are so different, I've concluded it's only the stranglehold the publishing industry has on the bookshops that has kept them in business this long.
When I was writing my first novel, Torbrek...and the Dragon Variation, I had the naive idea that if you wrote a reasonably coherent book, you could get it published, and once in the bookshops, the Public Would Decide. How wrong I was. But with the rise of independent authors, who self-publish after rejection by the mainstream, and the advent of the Kindle, we are heading for the situation I imagined, where readers get to choose.
Which is no bad thing.
Posted by Lexi at Friday, December 03, 2010