So I read this book over the weekend. I won't name it, not because I'm going to crap on it here but because I'm increasingly aware of how far these words reach. The book is not the point, my reaction is, but if you're dying to know the title, email me or something.
I'll set the stage. It's a debut novel, pretty standard Urban Fantasy, as in chick lit with vampires, featuring a kickass, hot & sexy lady protag with a lot of sass and a lot of evil to overcome. Overall I enjoyed the read, though it did take a little while for the author to settle into her voice. The writing definitely improved over the course of the book. There's a lot of promise in that voice, and I'd like to see where she takes the story in the second installment.
Actually, the way the author's voice strengthened reminded me of the first novel I wrote, now that I'm far enough in the future to look at it objectively. (btw, I have no idea whether the book which inspired this post is the author's first book ever, only that it was her debut.) In a first novel, you start at the beginning (of course) when you have no idea how to write a novel. The phrasing is clunky, the pacing uncertain, and a lot of the choices you make are based on books you've read in your genre. Then, as you go along, you start to figure it out. It gets easier, but you find yourself stuck with some bad choices you made before you knew what you were doing, so you end up with awkward character motivation, retroactively added to get the character from one plot point to the next. Plus, no matter how many times you edit the first few chapters, that clunkiness stays. You end up with that kind of book, where the ending is telegraphed by page 30 and the characters are way too familiar.
If you're lucky (or unlucky, if publishing a not-quite-there book is a bad thing) your genre is hothothot when you start querying. Maybe your mythology is a bit different from other books in your genre, or maybe the central idea is unique, even if the people and places are not, or vice-versa. Whatever, it's your lucky (or unlucky) day because publishers are actively looking for the kind of book you chose to write. I have to say, it seems like good luck rather than bad anytime somebody wants to publish your work, even if it's a little early in your craft. A writer with real talent will blossom, I imagine, and others will fizzle.
But I always wonder how those authors feel about their situation. Do they see the weaknesses in their own work? And does it really matter, if the readers are happy?