Margarita on Toast

Have you ever been so excited to read a book that you keep peeking at the first line, paragraph, page before you really have time to read? You know you have.

You love the author. The cover copy promises your author's best story yet. The blurbs are fantastic. Finally your quiet time arrives, and you settle in for at least one chapter.

Instead of the salty cold tang of a Margarita, the taste is more like flat, lukewarm Sprite.

You decide to read a little more. The author's wonderful. There must be a good reason she didn't put in the fizz yet. After searching through page after page, you find the plot. Instead of hearty meat and potatoes . . . soggy toast.

What's a reader to do?

This is where I close the book. Stick it in the bag that goes to the library. Move on. I don't dwell. I don't finish.

If this is a favorite author, as in my example, I'll buy another book, but probably not the next one unless I'm super-enticed in some way. If it's bad, it will be a while before I purchase her again.

If this is an author new to me, whether experienced or new, I often won't give her another chance. Why? Because I have so many choices of other authors. I move on. I don't dwell.

Why should I take another chance on someone I didn't enjoy on the first read when I can try for someone I may enjoy?

No writer wants to put out work someone doesn't enjoy, yet it happens every day. We're all human. We have different likes and dislikes. No one is going to enjoy everything we write. Unless maybe it's our mother.

As a reader: What do you do when this happens with you?

As a writer: What do you do to prevent this from happening too many times?


Terry Odell said…
As a reader (having been brought up in the 'clean your plate' club) I keep slogging through the book. But I skim and read it Very Fast.

As a writer, I can only hope my characters and the stuff I throw at them will keep readers turning pages (and reading the words!). I don't think there's any way to ensure this happens, and different readers respond differently.

Terry's Place
Romance with a Twist--of Mystery
Mason Canyon said…
As a reader, when this happens I put the book aside and go back to it later. I give it one more try because maybe it was me, the mood I was in. Sometimes on the second go, I will find I like the book. I'm not expected as much out of it or I'm in a better frame of mind to read it. If it still reads the same as the first go, I pass it on to a friend to let them get it a try. You're right, there are way too many good books out there to get stuck on one bad book.

Thoughts in Progress
mooderino said…
I demand to know who this writer was!

It's bound to happen though, no one hits the bulls eye every time. I think you're right, move on and try again.
Moody Writing
Laura Eno said…
As a reader I used to slog through it. Then I started giving it 50%. Now I give it 30%. I guess my time's more valuable now. :)

As a writer I always hope that doesn't happen, but I know I won't please everybody. If we all had the same tastes, then there wouldn't be such a variety of books!
Rula Sinara said…
I do a bit of everything the other posters do. I usually keep reading, albeit maybe skimming a little. Depending on my mood or time constraints, I may put it down and try again later. If it's part of a series, I'm more likely to push through regardless of the writing (just bc I need to know what happened to those characters). I think I've only read one or two books where, after putting them down and coming back three or four times over, I had to quit. I just couldn't do it bc the writing was so flat. I'm quite forgiving with a favorite author though. We all have bad days (or weaker books)...and I hope one day the forgiveness will be returned ;)
BECKY said…
Carol, I've had this same thing happen to me, at least twice that I can think of. Two of my favorite authors. I'd read many of their books. And then one that just didn't equal the previous ones. I'm with you. I never keep reading a book I don't like! Why waste my time? And I'm also with you on the give it away part. I've tried going back to a book at a later time, but the words have never changed!
Lydia Kang said…
I used to slog through but lately I don't. It also depends--if the book is really hyped up, I'll skim to the end just so I can find out the plot details.
Carol Kilgore said…
Terry - I used to finish them all, but I haven't in a long time. I agree about writers.

Mason - Maybe I should have a second chance stack. Good idea. I'll give it a try.

Mooderino - No names. It's one you'd recognize. Thanks for stopping by and commenting.

Laura - Exactly so about writers. We give it our best shot.

Rula - Very good point about the forgiveness being returned. I don't need Bad Book Karma tracking me down.

Becky - I wish I read faster. Maybe I'd be more willing to keep going.
Carol Kilgore said…
Lydia - Sometimes I will skim if the plot is engrossing. When plot, character, and writing are bad I rarely see the point.
Joanne said…
When this happens, I don't finish the story. I really give a book a good look before picking it up to read, even if it's a favorite author. It's an investment of time to a reader, and I want it to be satisfying.
Linda Kage said…
Yep, not every book can be our best, so this has got to happen for every author. But as a reader, if it's one of my favorites, I usually still read the entire book. If it's a newbie, yeah, I usually don't go back for more. Sorry, author. I have no idea how to keep from writing soggy toast. Sigh.
Anonymous said…
Yep. Its happened with my faves live Koontz and Patterson. Now I look at reader reviews. If I see a trend that most like it, then I buy it. Otherwise, forget about it (bad New York mafia accent).
Carol Kilgore said…
Joanne - You're so right about a book being an investment of time.

Linda - I'm in the same boat.

Stephen - LOL. I should pay more attention to reader reviews.
Talli Roland said…
As a reader, yes, it's happened to me... and it's so disappointing. As a writer, eep! It's my worst nightmare.
Elspeth Futcher said…
As a reader, this has happened more than once and honestly, the book gets closed. I'll give it 100 pages or so and then accept it's not for me. As a writer, obviously, I hope readers don't want to close my book until they've got to the last page, but it's a risk we all must be willing to take.
Southpaw said…
I use to read it begrudgingly. Now, I stop. I do give it a chance but when it stops holding my interest, I move on.

It’s hard to trust reader reviews not that they don’t truly love the book, but what they like and I like are not always the same thing. My current read has tons of fabulous review, yet I can’ get past the third chapter.

As a writer this is my worst feat (of course), but I keep telling myself we all like different things, we all like different things, ….
Jennifer Shirk said…
This happened to me with one of my favorite all-time authors--but I kept reading. Then by the end I was so grateful I stuck with it because I ended up loving it. :)
As a writer, I can't even THINK about it, or I'd never write again. LOL
Anonymous said…
I like to give people the benefit of the doubt, meaning, if I don't like a book, doesn't mean I'll cut off the writer forever, LOL!
LR said…
I look more for interesting prose than plot in the first pages/chapters. If that's there I'll give the book a chance.

As for follow-up books of authors I like - if the book isn't so good, I always wonder if the author was under deadline pressure.

P.S. a Margarita sounds awesome right now.
Anonymous said…
I stop reading. When I was younger I would read books to the end, but now I don't waste my time.

I'm a more cautious buyer these days. I like how I can sample ebooks to make sure the beginning pages are to my liking.
Carol Kilgore said…
Talli - Same for me. Exactly.

Elspeth - You give the book longer than I do. We do have to be willing to take the risk. It's scary.

Holly - I need to remember 'different things'. It shouldn't be hard because my taste is quirky. But it is looking at it from the author's side.

Jennifer - Maybe that's the secret ... don't think about it!

lbdiamond - I'm forgiving of some things. I'm actually forgiving of almost anything if it's just a few. But when there's a lot of stuff going on, not so much.

LR - Interesting prose is good. But when the plot fails to develop or does so at a snail's pace, I'll stop. I'm less inclined to stop if it's the other way around, but I'll skim.

Medeia - I'm more cautious, too. But even first pages can be deceiving at times.
As a reader: I can't keep reading. If there isn't anything to keep me going, not even one tiny grain of interest, I have to move on. There are too many other books out there!

Loved this post. Makes me want a margarita! =)
Julie Flanders said…
Hi Carol!

I just discovered your blog through Becky's site, I'm glad I did.

As a reader, I'm with you. I stop reading. I admit I don't have much patience either, if something doesn't grab me fairly quickly, I won't keep going.

Great blog! :)
Maryannwrites said…
For a long time I was like Terry, I thought I had to "finish everything on my plate." Now I no longer think I have to do that. If a book starts falling apart, I move on.

In my writing, I work hard at the craft and do revision after revision until I hope I have done all I can to keep the reader engaged throughout the story. No cranking the stories out for me. LOL
Yikes!!!! I've had this happen a few times. I try really hard to get through it. If it's at all possible, I will. Some are just so blah that I can't. And yep, it will be a while, if ever, before I read that person again....

As a writer, like everyone else, it would be a nightmare!

Very interesting post. We'll all probably have bad dreams tonight, lol :P
Carol Kilgore said…
Miss Good on Paper - Since it's well after five o'clock here in San Antonio, you're good to go for that Margarita! Thanks for commenting.

Julie - I'm glad you found me, too :) Thanks for commenting.

Maryann - Same here. I'm usually tired of reading it by the time I'm done.

Words Crafter - As a writer, my worst fear is it's so bad no one likes it. No bad dreams!
Manzanita said…
I'm not a writer.... I'm a writer groupie. But as a reader, I had the opposite experience. I read by subject and now I'm into reincarnation. I had ordered a bunch of books and was excited to get into each one except one that I didn't like the artwork on the cover. After I read all of them except the bad cover jobbie, I finally flipped it open. OMG..... what great writing. It put me way behind because I couldn't put the book down. I'm enthralled with the book. What's the saying.... "Can't judge a book by it's cover." Ha
Carol Kilgore said…
Manzanita - Most writers have no control over the cover the publisher chooses. This is a great example of why we sometimes freak when we see the cover our baby is saddled with.
Golden Eagle said…
Sometimes I will push through a book I started but decided I didn't like--other times I won't. It depends on whether I think there's still something interesting about the story or not.
Conda Douglas said…
As a reader, I may give the writer another chance, but I'll get the book from the library, not buy. As a writer, this keeps me up at night...
Unknown said…
Val McDermid is one of my favorite authors and sometimes I have a difficult time getting into the book. However, she's never failed me, I'm always happy I finished.
Hart Johnson said…
I am a relatively persistent reader and USUALLY will try for a while. It takes a lot to make me take a book back before I finish. The last time I remember it happening was the first Sookie Stackhouse book--the voice made me CRAZY. I'm not a fan of first person present tense anyway, but I really couldn't stand it. (I actually enjoy the TV show, btw--at least the one season I've seen)

I am usually persistent enough to finish, but... I only read the one Twilight--I won't try the author again unless someone GIVES me a good.

I find though, that I can get tired of even a good voice--an author I enjoy for one book, the next feels too much the same and annoys me... so whatever the case, I am going to author hop whether I hate it or love it. The difference is, in a few years, I will try the loved one again.
Carol Kilgore said…
Golden Eagle - Exactly. Me, too.

Conda - I know that 3 a.m. feeling :)

Clarissa - Lucky you. Maybe I need new favorite authors :)

Hart - I try to never read the same author back to back. I love Lisa Scottoline - she's not the author that made me close the book. Anyway, she's been writing for a while, but I only started reading her last year. Or the year before - I forget. I've read 3 or 4 now and still adore her work.
J.L. Campbell said…
I'm weird that way, I'll put it down and then try again and again. I'm amazed when it happens with books that are highly touted. Makes me wonder if there's something wrong with me.
Carol Kilgore said…
J.L. - I know that 'something wrong with me' feeling.
Janet, said…
As a writer of children's stories, I admit, I don't read adult fiction that much. But I picked up a very prosperous and popular author's book a few weeks ago and started to read, thinking I would love it. I just couldn't get into it at all, way too much useless and frivolous info in the story.
Carol Kilgore said…
Janet - At least I'm not the only one this happens to. We are not alone :)
G. J. Jolly said…
I'm exactly like you. In fact, lately my choices of books to read hasn't been very good. I've ended up getting many books at a second-hand book store just to cut down on the cost. I know that there are terrific authors out there. I'm just not choosing them lately. (I probably need to look harder for one of yours.)
Carol Kilgore said…
Glynis - So far all my published work is short fiction and non-fiction. Details are on my website: