Monday, February 9, 2015

Beware, Dissastisfied Reader Ahead

Something has been bothering me lately about books - Christian and Non-Christian alike. I am finding myself increasingly dissatisfied with the quality of the books being published. We at the Book Review Sisters halved our number of book reviews last year for a couple of reasons:

  • We no longer had the time to read as much as we'd like
  • We no longer had anything "new" to say about the books we were reading.

By that I mean, we felt we were saying the same thing over and over again. So any book review we've posted last year and this year so far, have been ones we truly enjoyed and had something meaningful to say about it.

So, what exactly am I dissatisfied about?

There's one way to answer this:  I have stopped reading books by a once favourite author of mine because their work and has drifted into mediocrity.

And that is the crux of my problem - mediocre books.

Books are being published with little care to continuity in the story - it's like someone along the line is thinking it's okay to have glaring plot holes, we'll just hope the reader doesn't notice. Books with paragraph after paragraph of telling - I'm skipping pages in desperate search of something interesting happening.

Books published with inconsistent characters, who behave in random ways with no plausible motive or explanation. Books with contrived plots thrown together with hurried endings. There's nothing worse than getting all the way through a novel and being served with a dissatisfying or unbelievable ending.

Really, it's all quite insulting.  As readers, we're looking for quality entertainment - the chance to escape our own realities, live vicariously through dynamic and engaging characters, experience new and exciting places.  What exactly has happened? Since when have readers - who pay with both their money and their time - lost their worth in the eyes of the publishing industry?

Several of my "must read" authors have recently moved away from once a year book releases, to two-three a year publications. This makes me nervous.  I've already seen a significant quality decline in one author who has made that move, and I anticipate the same will happen to the others.

I'm finding this lapse in story and writing quality across the board - self-published, traditionally published, Christian and non Christian.

As a reader, I am deeply saddened by the increasing number of sub par quality of books being produced. I long to read books that are enjoyable, well structured with engaging characters, and most of all, well written. I want to believe that the author and their team around them really care about bringing out the best in themselves by the time a book is ready for publication. Lately, it's been few and far between that have impressed me with a decent standard of both story and writing technique.  As a result, I gravitate towards those authors who show me book after book that they truly care about producing the best that is in them and pushing themselves to be better writers.  I'm finding myself ever more reluctant to try new authors because of how frequently I am disappointed.

 I am wondering if anyone else is finding this or is it just me?

Jess' favourite genre is contemporary women's fiction and contemporary romance fiction. She also enjoys historical fiction with a focus on romance. She loves books set in country towns or farms with a cowboy featured in either historical or contemporary settings.

She is currently writing her first novel, a contemporary women's fiction/romance set in a small country town.


  1. A sobering, honest, and provocative post, Jessica--and a very good reminder that we, as authors, owe our readers the best we can give. Though I understand the temptation (and pressures in these increasingly uncertain times for the world of publishing), quality not quantity should be the rule. Thank you.

    1. Thanks Candace, you know I don't mind if I don't like a book, but if it was well- written and made me think, then I'm inclined to give it a fair review. Liking something doesn't mean liking everything about it, nor does disliking a book mean that it was all bad. You said it at the end, quality over quantity. :)

  2. It's not just you. I find myself giving a lot of four-star reviews on Amazon. It's not that the books aren't good - many are - but that they either aren't original plots, or aren't up to the author's previous standard. In both cases they are good books, but they aren't great, and they don't meet my expectations.

    However, I think it's more than quality over quantity. I read one novel last year where the author said she had spent ten years writing it. I thought it was overwritten (and if she'd spent all that time writing, a few extra hours on Wikipedia checking her facts would have been time well spent). There are other authors who seem to have huge output with no noticeable loss in quality.

    1. Can I ask why give a book 4 stars if it's more than ok but not that great? Wouldn't 4 stars indicate it's a really enjoyable book?

      I agree books can be overwritten. I guess my main problem is that I'm seeing books that weren't written well enough in the first place. I'd take over writing at this point over under written books.

      Some authors are just gifted with the ability to put a magical story together time and again and they must have a very good editing team around them too!

    2. I'm talking about Amazon ratings: 3 stars is "It's okay", 4 stars is "I like it", and 5 stars is "I love it". I like the books, but they are missing that x-factor which means I don't love them.

      Ratings on Goodreads are lower, so my Amazon 4-star will only be a 3-star on Goodreads. I give books I'm happy to recommend to others 4 stars on Goodreads, but I've hardly had any 5-star ratings on GR in the last year.

      And, yes, I've read a few that just weren't written well enough in the first place!

    3. Thanks Iola for clearing that up. I rarely post reviews on either site and thus I don't know anything about their rating systems. :)