Letting the reader decide…

NA profile 300dpi (401x640)Publishing a book where the reader decides how they interpret the clues that lead up to the grand finale, is a risk. Never Alone launches today and begins a month-long Book Tour hosted by the fabulous Fiction Addiction Book Tours. The advance review copies went out at the beginning of December 2012 and I’m understandably anxious. Authors don’t always know the people reviewing their books and reviewers know their stuff! They are professional and get through an incredible amount of reading. They are in a position to judge, whereas in my case I find it hard to get a perspective on anything I’ve written. I’m simply too close to see the wood for the trees. It might be my fifth book, but I’m still a newbie. Let’s have the conversation…

Me: OK – you laughed there!

You: Why write five manuscripts in one go when you had no reader feedback at all to guide you?

Me: Ah, you think I was over-confident. I had a passion to write and didn’t want to stop…

You: Common sense is under-rated these days. So why push it that extra step and ‘test’ the reader with Never Alone?

Me: It seemed like a good idea at the time…

Now, I don’t want to give out spoilers and to be honest, I’ve only seen two of the reviews so far and a couple of one-liners for advance feedback. But I have permission to share one readerThe lovely Erin‘s thoughts in detail (taking out spoilers) and a fellow author’s reaction…

Erin (reader/reviewer) said: “Yowsers!!  What an ending!  I was not expecting that in the least!  I want to let it sink in a little more….what I can say, as my first reactions/feelings, which I think is important, is that I have hardly thought of anything else since I read it….that’s a good thing I think.  In fact, I want to re-read it to make sure I didn’t miss any ‘hints’…I already re-read the ending right after I finished.

This story is definitely going to affect each person differently that’s for sure….and I also think that’s a good thing!  I went from being entertained by a good story to suddenly thinking of my own life and the choices I made and what could have been different if I made different choices. Some people, I think, would not want to look that closely at their lives or never had ‘if only I didn’t choose that way’ or ‘what if’ moments like I have. See, I’m still thinking…  So, these are just my first reactions and thoughts… like I said on my FB status…thought provoking…”

That email stopped me in my tracks – have I asked too much of the reader? Is it confusing? Then a fellow author, Katie Mettner, put an early review up on Amazon, here is an Pretty Blond Womanextract:

“The reader is immediately hooked and it doesn’t let go until the very end, which I did NOT see coming! ….. You will fall in love with Holly and her family as you get a very intimate look into their lives. You will be sure you know exactly how this will end, only to have such a twist thrown in at the end your mouth will be hanging open, I know mine was!”

What I can say, is that there are three ways of interpreting this story – there are subtle clues throughout the book. There isn’t one ‘correct’ conclusion and even if you miss all of the clues, the finale is the finale, regardless to how you get there.

I think Erin was spot-on when she said that “This story is definitely going to affect each person differently..”. It was fun to write because obviously as I started each new manuscript I was gaining in confidence and stretching my imagination – and this was no. 5. Whilst I had no idea what real, gutsy readers would think – I never lost sight of the fact that I wanted to stretch the mind of the reader as well as pushing myself as a writer.

Without readers, authors would not exist. As a writer I listen to feedback (the more, the merrier) and try to learn from it. In fact, I ended The Quintessential Gemini (manuscript no.3, published by Sapphire Star Publishing) with a rhetorical question. I was on Twitter one day and two readers were talking about the ending and what happened next. Next? I’d made an assumption, which has taught me a lesson and I’m now writing the sequel – The Quintessential Astrologer to finish off the story (hopefully) to the satisfaction of the readers.

Amazon.co.uk (buy) ebook £0.96p, paperback £7.19p
Amazon.com (buy) ebook $1.55, paperback $12.99

Click on the badge for Book Tour details and see below for the competition:

And the prizes….


Never Alone is a story about a young woman who has doubts she’s on the right path, as her ‘perfect’ life unravels. Do you have a ‘what if…’ moment? Some point where you had two choices and one decision to make?

Share your ‘what if’ here, or at loveahappyending.com or on any of the participating websites listed over at Fiction Addiction Book Tours for your chance to be a winner!

‘What if…’ entries via comments to any of the blogs taking part – winners will be announced on 18 February 2013.