So the polls are in, and some books were chosen to get closer attention while others weren’t. And I imagine that some of you might be a bit disappointed by the fact that you didn’t make that cut.
I want to take a moment to say that in most cases, it wasn’t an easy decision to make. Which book goes ahead, which book doesn’t? There were a few books that could have gone one way or the other, and only the presence of another book that got added to the “yes” list tipped the balance and made me make that hard choice over which one to dedicate my time to.
I also want to say that just because you didn’t make my final cut doesn’t mean your books were bad. As I mentioned in the first post I did about DNF’d books, The Bone Flower Queen was disqualified because it was the second book in a series and I hadn’t read the first one. But what I did read of that second one showed me that it was awesome! Other books were disqualified because they just weren’t really my thing, even though what I read of them was pretty good (case in point, Alan Zendell’s The Portal), and if I’m going to devote the time to reading through a full book, I want it to at least be in a genre I tend to like reading. Those books will likely appeal to any number of other readers. It’s just rotten luck that they were given to me. That’s the nature of the game, I’m afraid; you always run the risk that no matter how good something is, it’ll end up in the hands of those who don’t like it.
I will be honest, though; most of the books I ended up not adding to the list, though, were books that had okay writing and an okay story, but nothing that particular grabbed me or made me think, “Damn, this needs to get into way more hands!” They were good, but it was “early days” good, the kind of stuff that shows potential but still needs some work to get it from okay to good or good to great. And to be fair to most of you in that category, I’ll say the following to put it into perspective:
Mercedes Lackey is one of my favourite authors. She nearly always writes stuff I want to read. She’s got a knack for writing uplifting novels with fun stories and those books just fly right by even if they aren’t always the best things I’ve ever read. Her debut novel, written in the 80’s, was… eh. It was okay, it was good, but it wasn’t great. It had potential, but that potential was far from realised, and over the years and with more practice under her belt, she grew into the author who wrote dozens of books that I’ve loved to death. So please, don’t look at this as a failure to succeed. Look at it as you being at the same starting point as someone who has gone on to write and co-write over 100 novels at this point, and maybe the only difference between you and her is that she has more practice.
Also working against some of you was the very fact that I didn’t hand-pick your books myself. I was handed them at random, as were all of the participants in this challenge. Choosing 8 out of 26 is, in all honesty, about the same ratio of books I’d probably end up with if someone handed me a random list of 26 traditionally-published fantasy books and told me I had a limited time frame in which to read them and I had to pick 1 clear winner of the batch. I had to narrow down the field somehow.
But I do want to thank you all for participating in this challenge. I mean it when I say that you’ve got more courage than I do when it comes to putting yourself out there and showing the world your writing. I have yet to make public my fiction (with the exception of a few years-ago stories that will interest nobody unless you enjoy gay smut, lalala…), and you should be proud of that courage.
Also, going through the offered books helped me develop some of my own skills, skills which I’ve long wanted to improve but haven’t had much of a chance. I enjoyed playing pseudo-agent. I enjoyed looking through everything and asking myself, “If it were up to me, which would I take under my belt to pitch to a publisher?” I got to work on editing skills, even if I ended up keeping those comments largely to myself. This was a great opportunity for me to grow as well, and I couldn’t have gained that experience without all of you taking that chance on me. So I want to say that I appreciate it.
Many thanks to you all, and happy writing in the future!