Here’s a truth about me: I’m a prolific reader. I will read anything, with the possible exception of science fiction; and then I could probably be talked into it if someone strongly recommend it. I read anything.
For years, I refused to leave a book unfinished. If I started a book, I was committed to reading it to the last page. I finally ended that dedication when I read a book that quite literally caused me to throw it across the room, leaving a nice big dent in the wall for my husband to fix. He wasn’t pleased. Since then, I have a rule: a book has 50 pages to gain my attention and, if it fails, I close the book. Now, that doesn’t mean it has to be a page-turner. I just have to enjoy the story enough to continue reading. I have to like something about the characters and/or the writing. The exception to this rule was The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. I started it four times before it finally picked up the pace at about page 65! I only continued giving it another chance because so many people loved it, and I’m glad I did. Once I passed page 65, I devoured it and the next two in the series! Great read!
I wish all books were like Dragon Tattoo. I wish you could always rely on the strong recommendation of others in anticipation of a good read. Sadly, that’s too often not the case.
Recently I sat down to read a book that came highly recommended. I couldn’t wait to get my hands on it! The title was quirky, the premise was fun, and readers reported that they loved it. Better still, readers reported that it made them laugh out loud. Yes! I was set and excited to read.
I broke my rule. I read every page. The characters were flat, the story was boring and predictable, and I didn’t laugh out loud even once. But I kept reading. I kept thinking that I was just a page or two away from what others enjoyed, but I never arrived at that page. Frankly, the writing was horrible. I’ve read worse, but it’s been a while.
I turned the last page and sat there scratching my head. People really liked this? I wondered about the author. Was this his first book? Did she have others? How did they stack up against this one? A quick search through Google gave me my answers: this was about the third or fourth book in a series by this same author, and each book received reasonable reviews. Huh. Really?
All of this left me, as an aspiring author, with one thought: YES! The process of querying for a literary agent isn’t necessarily about what’s good or bad; it’s about what appeals to the person flipping the pages. A rejection on a query doesn’t mean, necessarily, that the writing is bad or that the story sucks; it just means I haven’t found the right person to appreciate what I’ve done. Which brings me back to the book I just read. Maybe it didn’t really suck; maybe I’m just not the right person to appreciate it.
A huge thank you to all of the novels out there that I didn’t “connect” with. It makes me appreciate my own query process a little better. Not every book “connects” with every reader, and my manuscript won’t connect with every literary agent. But I know there’s one out there who’s going to love it, and I just have to find him/her.