Writers (as least the ones I know) love to hear words of praise from their readers. Me, too. It’s always an encouragement to learn that something I wrote touched a reader’s heart, that they found my book entertaining or funny or moving. Back in the “olden days” of my publishing career, contact from readers came via letters in the mail. And 99.9% of the time, readers who took the time to write a letter to an author wrote because they loved the book.
Times have changed. The Internet has made communication easier. And not just when it comes to contacting an author via email versus snail mail. With blogs, review sites, on-line booksellers like ChristianBook.com and Amazon.com, Facebook, and a host of other sources, people can express their opinions freely to the world at large about the books they read.
One thing that is always true is that a book that one reader loves another will react to differently, perhaps with a ho-hum sentiment, perhaps with complete disdain. Reading is subjective. People bring with them a whole set of experiences and emotions that can make them read different things into a story, things the author didn’t mean or intend.
When my novel Firstborn was first released, I received a wonderful letter from a woman who had been adopted as a baby and who had, as a young adult, reconnected with her birth mother. She said that Firstborn had captured the emotions of the women in the triad (daughter, adoptive mother, and birth mother) exactly right. She loved the book and was going to recommend it to everyone. Recently, I received an email about Firstborn from another young woman. She’d hated the characters and was angered by the story. Her parents had adopted two children, and they’d never gone through anything like what had been in my novel. It was obvious from her comments that she brought a completely different experience into reading Firstborn than the former woman I mentioned; I think it’s safe to say the latter reader won’t want to read anymore of my books.
Although my February 2009 release, When Love Blooms, hasn’t caused quite so fervent responses, it’s had its share of both positive and negative reactions. One blog review said:
“I could not put this book down, which unfortunately meant it is scarred from being carried around to the pool, work, doctor’s appointments—wherever! But I would still share it with anyone because I just loved it. The story was captivating and the ending just made me smile.”
But someone else (also a blog review) had this reaction:
“I felt the characters were flat and underdeveloped, the story line too entirely predictable, and some of the situations forced upon the characters by the author. This is not Hatcher’s best book.”
Why was When Love Blooms a great, “unputdownable” read for one person and a mediocre read for another? There is just no answering that question beyond what I said above—reading is subjective. I have a couple of books on my Kindle that others (many others) have raved and raved and raved about, but so far I haven’t been able to get into them. They just don’t float my boat. Why? Reading is subjective. Plain and simple.
I’m busy writing another book. (The deadline approaches much too quickly.) I hope it will be good. I hope it will entertain and amuse and move readers. At least I’m trying my best to make sure that’s the final result. Who knows? Maybe one day I’ll write a novel that will please everybody. LOL! I’m not holding my breath.
Whatever novel you’re reading right now, I hope you’re loving it.