Make it Easy on the Reader

The new story is up on pre-order, and I tried to take all the advice for making it easy on the reader. I’m not talking only the words that make up the story — there’s a ton of other stuff.

For example, I put the blurb/description as part of the eBook these days. This is advice I learned from myself as a reader. I’d buy an eBook, leave it a few days, and then not remember what the description was about. Considering it’s part of the reason why I buy a book, I wanted to read it again before I dived in for the full meal.

I write the description/blurb in my books now. For the reader me, to make it easier to remember and, therefore, to relive that enticing moment.

Do you do that? Think like a reader. As a reader, would you like to see the blurb as part of the eBook? If yes, consider doing it for your next book. But remember that if you update the blurb anywhere, you should update it in the book (have I done that with all of them? No. It’s a case of do as I say, not as I do, of course).

Using styles for headings of chapters and such. I do this because I like to use the ‘go to’ function of the eReader. Makes life easy for me. But there’s something I’ve noticed when opening a new buy. The eReader opens the book at the first heading style. That’s termed the ‘beginning’ of the book. It’s usually the line of the opening passage of the story. That’s not where I want to begin. I want to ease into it, see the contents at the very least. I want to change this ‘beginning’ to be where I want to see the start of the book.

And I hate having one chapter flow right into the next without a page break. I do my heading styles (most of ’em, anyway) with a page break before. That’s for the reader me, to ensure I know where things change.

These days, I put a heading style on the description/blurb so the book opens at that point (and I do one for contents, too, for (I hope) obvious reasons). I think of my reader self and want to start at a point where I don’t miss the stuff that might matter (the description, named chapters, etc.). It also means the ‘go to’ function has a few more options. I like options.

There are also things I should have done, but haven’t.

I should put a ‘write your review’ linked to the review page for the book, but this is something you can’t do until the book is published (doesn’t work in pre-order).

I should put a preview panel in the ‘books’ page, but you can’t do a preview pane until the book is published.

I should send out copies to beta-readers or people who offer to review. As I don’t have a mailing list (I figure readers can follow on any one of several platforms, including this one, if they want to) and as the people I send it to often don’t get back to me with anything (27/29 failed to respond), I’m not going to do it again. Maybe I’ll try an avenue that makes me pay through the nose (any cost is through the nose for a person with no income), but it will be after I have enough books published to be worth the spend. That goes for paid advertising, too.

I should grovel for a review somewhere in the book, and put a link to the book (and all my books). There is an ‘ask’ point, but not a grovel, and no link (a line or two at the end of the book with links to the other books). I’ll cross my fingers to hope that it was worthy enough for one reader to say to another, ‘try this, you’ll like it’ and then maybe read another of my books. That would be great. Please do that, even if you don’t leave a review.

There are lots of things I find annoying when reading books.

Most of them have to do with things that stop me as a reader. Overuse of crutch words, filter words, lazy verbs and vague nouns. Floating heads, activity that doesn’t move the story forward, lack of a question to chase to find the end of the story (that’s about clarity of progression).

These things are what I’ve learned since I’ve taken on the (gargantuan) task of learning the craft skills associated with writing, but they are also the things that annoyed reader me before I learned them. I just didn’t know how to find the words that said what it was that stopped me then. I do now.

Maybe that’s why people never ask me for an opinion on their writing twice, or never speak to me again after I give a small sample of an opinion. Never mind.
An example: Bloke A asked me to explain what I meant by ‘the heart of the story’. He thought I meant theme or premise. He returned a statement of an inner need for the character. That’s not what the ‘heart’ of the story is. The heart of the story is the through-line, the reason the main character pushes forward despite everything being against him. There are consequences associated with failing to act, and there needs to be a reason to do it — more than, ‘it’s exciting, a race from here to there.’ Bloke A doesn’t respond. It’s been months. I don’t think I’ll hear from Bloke A again.

They’re not all like that. I have a WP buddy who’s taken my lashings well and climbed a steep learning curve on skills, so much so that the wonderful, intriguing ideas he has are now becoming enticing, alluring, compelling stories. I like his story ideas, and now I’m enjoying the stories. Every writer is also a reader, and my reader me comes long before my writer me. I write for the reader me, and I want other writers to write for the reader me (I can read many more books than I can write, so it makes sense to me to ensure the writers out there are producing books I’ll enjoy. Right?).

Anyway. We move on. Maybe with a few losses along the way. Such is life. C’est la vie. Something like that. I’ll go on writing, I’ll go on offering an opinion when people ask for it. I’ll go on losing contact with people who don’t really want more than reassurance.
My excuse: I used to be a tech editor. No platitudes in there. You do one ‘please’ or ‘thank you’ and you never get another job. It’s a hard habit to break.

Sorry, is all I can say, and reiterate that every opinion I offer is no more than that. We do all know about opinions, don’t we?

Anyway, I’m off to rest my newly restored shoulder joint, prep for the op on the other shoulder next week, and to dream of the big events in the next fable.

I hope you enjoy the new story, the old story, and your own story.

8 thoughts on “Make it Easy on the Reader

    • I haven’t used them yet, so I don’t know, but getting no response is a hundred times worse than getting bad feedback. It’s also difficult finding people who read in the genre, which can be psychologically stressful reading — not for the reader of soft and fuzzy, but not blood and gore disgusting (I think).

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  1. This made me smile: ‘I write for the reader me, and I want other writers to write for the reader me (I can read many more books than I can write, so it makes sense to me to ensure the writers out there are producing books I’ll enjoy. Right?).’

    And the answer is ‘Right! Of course.’ 😀

    By the way, thank you for the tip about putting the blurb in front. I use heading styles too but always begin them at the chapter. I think I’m going to change that with the next one, whenever that next one finally makes it through the process.

    Congratulations on ‘Novitiate’. I really like the title and I’m looking forward to the others in the series.

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    • That’s what makes a real writer, IMO. We all need an unbiased eye to help make the story the best it can be. Maybe even two or three sets of unbiased eyes. There is only one writer, and many, many readers, so the viewpoint of another reader is gold – but silence is not.
      And I always recommend growing a layer of rhino skin to absorb the differences of opinion (for me, also. Sometimes, people say things that demonstrate they didn’t read the story, or only read someone else’s comments).
      It’s hard though, isn’t it?

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      • Absolutely, we need feedback for other people. It isn’t that hard for me because I work with documentation in corporate finance [I am a chartered accountant]. The lawyers and other advisors always make comments and amendments so it is run of the mill for me. I have also had the odd review that reads just like someone else’s. I don’t mind the odd more negative review any more, I think they make my ratings more believable. Everyone can’t relate to or like what I’ve written. The world doesn’t work that way.

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