On Writing & Publishing by Robin D. Owens

Personal notes on writing techniques, writing a novel, my writing career and threading your way through publishing a book.

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Location: Denver, United States

RITA Award Winning Author -- that's like the Oscar, folks! Futuristic/Fantasy Romance and Fantasy with Romantic Subplots.

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Monday, March 13, 2006

Bad books vs. Good books & Authors

I just finished judging 11 books in 3 romance sub-genres for a contest. One of the books was terrible. I felt the heroine's behavior was inappropriate and immature. The hero was slightly more than cardboard. The setting was interesting.

I gave this book an AVERAGE.

Why? Because it was the best book the author could write with the resources she had. I'm pretty sure it's a first book. And the author was proud enough of this book to enter it in a contest.

Let's face it, no author knowingly writes a bad book. Every author writes the best book they can with the resources they have. If they could have written a better book, they would have (and yeah, MY book is still not going well).

My first book is still on my shelf, never to see the light of day. The hero's motivation is weak. The romantic conflict is superficial. The setting is interesting.

I'm lucky that there are no books out there that will ever shame me, even though I wrote them the best that I could at the time, and I hope I've grown. Yes, there are things I'd like to change, but it isn't likely I'll ever have the chance, and I don't know that I'd take the time to do it anyway.

So next time you read a bad book, give us a break, we really did our best.

May your writing be exceptional today,


Anonymous Anonymous said...

What a lovely way to see things Robin. Of course, yes, people do write the best they can at the time...my query is this? Should they self-publish or take the hint if no one wants to accept their ms?

I wonder this as a book reviewer who sees it all!

6:00 AM  
Blogger Robin D Owens said...

That depends totally upon the person. It's tough to get even a good book published, being e-publishing is better than self-publishing. Does the author want a career? If so, self-publishing isn't the way to go. Hardly any fiction books are picked up by a self-published author.

If they want one book out there for their friends and family, a book to hold in their hands, and they'll be happy with that, self-publishing is fine...or a vanity press. Self-publishing can be very hard on a person, lining up the printer, selling out of the home, keeping track of inventory...


8:41 AM  
Blogger Jeri said...

Thanks for reminding us of the importance of compassion. In this world of snark, it's easy to forget.

6:24 AM  
Blogger Robin D Owens said...

There is a place for snark, but it isn't hitting someone who is at the bottom of the heap. Anyone who puts their work out in public, is leaving themselves open for criticsm and/or worse, but snark is easy, balanced judgement isn't.

And it really touched me that though I thought this book was TERRIBLE, the author was very proud of it. Nobody and nothing would be harmed by me giving her an Average instead of anything lower...but she was my only Average in 11 books.


6:41 AM  
Blogger Jeri said...

Exactly. Because it got an Average, the author will know it could have been better (thus avoiding instilling complacency) but won't have her feelings hurt. I hope the other judges were as kind as you.

8:15 AM  
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