When I first started writing, I was quite young. I wrote short stories modeled after the Ramona books by Beverly Cleary. When I was around 11 or 12, I started writing my first middle grade sci-fi novel titled Jarva. I got about 60 pages in. It was the most I had ever written. I was ecstatic and so into it! That is until my mom ran the manuscript through a Flesch-Kinkaid program that rated the reading level of my novel. I think she thought it would be good to know and helpful for me, but my immature mind was hugely insulted to see that I wrote below the grade level I was in at the time. How could that possibly be? I was a good writer. Everyone said so! How could I be writing at only a 4th grade level when I was in 6th grade?! I just couldn’t wrap my head around it and honestly, it kept me from writing for years. YEARS.
Now that I’m older and wiser (well…older at least), I’ve come to understand that I need to be writing at a level my intended audience can read and enjoy. Being that I write for the Young Adult crowd, I don’t want to be writing over their heads. While some of them would enjoy the challenge, I prefer to write for the masses. The more who can read and enjoy my work, the better. I leave the more difficult writing for my research papers and such.
I do think it’s important for all writers to know the level of their writing. What if Middle Grade is your deemed audience but you’re writing on a 9th grade level? Do you think many 5th and 6th grades will be able to read and enjoy your stories? It’s not likely. I think it’s also good know so you can try to improve your wordsmithery if your writing is too simplistic for your genre/crowd.
For those that don’t know, the American reading average is around a 9th grade level. Use this link to plug in some of your own work and see what level your writing is at. Before you go getting upset over what you see or ecstatic over writing at a genius type level, stop and remember your audience. Are you writing your best for them?
I love to read. We all know this. I also love to see others reading. Honest. It gives me joy to see someone’s nose in a book or a Kindle or whatever reading device you’re using these days. They’re educating themselves, using their imagination, escaping into a written world.
What I *HATE* to see, is people online and other places making fun of what others are reading.
You’re too high and mighty to read Twilight or Fifty Shades of Grey? Fine and dandy. I get it. Not everyone will enjoy the same things. Understandable, but what gives you the right to make fun of others for what they like and enjoy? I also hate that people seem to think you’re uneducated, a simpleton, if you read those kinds of books and enjoy them. *NEWS FLASH* Some of us like an easier read because we don’t need more stress in our lives. We don’t want books to put us to sleep. We don’t always want to have to read slowly for those secret hidden meanings in literary fiction.
I have an undergrad degree in Comparative Literature and Languages. I could debate the influence of Russian Lit on modern Japanese Lit with you (umm after some brushing up probably! Hah) and I could point out some of my favorite Faustian themed stories and that’s cool and I enjoyed a lot of that, but my brain often hurt from trying to dissect those kinds of books. When I graduated, I spent a summer delving into Chick Lit and enjoying the easy, fun and more relatable plots. Do I think the writing trumps, say, Anna Karenina (which I just see is going to be a remake movie out this year? Awwwwesome!)? No, but that doesn’t mean it’s bad literature or poorly written. It’s just written more for the masses than the intellectuals/upper crust.
Please don’t judge people on their reading choices. Please also remember that they don’t necessarily reflect someone’s education level. They read want they want because it obviously interests them in someway and there’s no shame in that. I would much rather see someone reading, regardless of whether it’s Harry Potter, Mein Kampf, or The Da Vinci Code then watching some mindless reality TV*.
Also, if you come upon those who are poking fun and being obnoxious, just ignore them. Feeding the trolls only makes them nastier and quite frankly, you don’t need to explain yourself nor defend your choice of reading material.
*Reality TV has its place too, so please don’t take that comment as a diss. I watch some myself at times!
Today I’m super excited to be helping my writing partner in crime, Patricia Lynne, debut the cover and blurb for her upcoming release, Snapshots.
Firstly, let’s check out the cover, shall we?
Pretty, isn’t it? I love black and that electric lime green together. I think it’s very eye catching. It doesn’t hurt that the model is quite lovely to look at as well! *waves* Hi Cyc! You can look into my future anytime. Call me!
So if the cover alone isn’t enough to wet your curiosity whistle, how about the blurb?
My name is Cyclop Blaine and I am a real person.
“You are mine.”
I am a real person: heedless of a childhood spent under the supervision of an old man I only know as Master.
“You belong to me.”
I am a real person: regardless of my teenage years bound by violence as the adoptive son of the Victory Street Gang’s leader.
“You will obey me.”
I am a real person: despite the visions I see in others’ eyes. Snapshots of their futures.
“You will cower before me.”
I am a real person: my life will be my own. I belong to no one.
“You. Are. MINE.”
I’ve got to tell you, even if I hadn’t read half the book already, the blurb would definitely interest me and it would go on my “to-read” list. Speaking of “to-read” lists, you should definitely pop over to Goodreads and add it to yours. I made it easy for you. Scroll up a little and just click on the title, Snapshots, at the beginning of the post and *BAM* there you are!
Snapshots is due out mid-July but while you’re waiting (and I know it’s agonizing to have to wait) you can check out her other awesome novel, Begin Human. Yes it’s a vampire story, but trust me, it’s not your typical vamp tale.
Connect with Patricia in the places below, but be warned, should you dislike Green Day or Mt. Dew, you may want to keep that information to yourself!
You may or may not know, but I currently have a giveaway running through Goodreads where I’m offering two signed ARCs of Tears of a Clown. One of the great things about doing these contests through the site is that people will enter (huzzah!) but also they read the synopsis and many will add your book to their “to-read” list, which is pretty cool. I’m not sure how many consult their lists to see if books come out but it’s still nice to see it interests some folks.
The other day I was checking to see how many people have entered so far when I noticed I suddenly went from a 5 star rating to a 4.43 rating. Now a 4.43 isn’t a bad rating by any means, but I know who has copies of the book and I started to see that people were rating the book three and four stars when I *KNOW* they haven’t read it.
What’s up with that junk?!
I asked around a little and found out that people are starting to use the star rating system to rate the books they want to read, rather than what they thought of the book. So a five star book is one they really want to read while a three star is lower on the list. While I love the idea of rating the “to-read” list, it should be a separate entity than the regular rating system because now it’s messing up my scoring!
I do think it’s quite a bright idea to rank your “to-read” list, especially when you’re like me and have well over a hundred books on it, but there needs to be another system put in place so it’s not bringing down your rating when they haven’t even read the book. I don’t think that’s fair to the authors and it may confuse other potential readers. Before asking around I had no idea people were doing this. If I wasn’t in the know, I’m going to guess there are many others who don’t know this practice is going on either.
Perhaps we can ban together and contact Goodreads and see if they have anything in the works to rank the “to-read” lists without harming an author’s star rating. We need something that will benefit the reader, but not harm the author in the process.
The first week of June ends my stint with Amazon‘s KDP. I had two free days left. I figured I wanted to use them up, so on Monday of this week, I put my fourth day into play. I didn’t do a lot of promoting. I tweeted a couple times and applied to some of the sites that do free posting. This was the first time the promo was picked up by only one of the sites (Kindle on the Cheap – Teens). While I definitely got traffic from them, it wasn’t as great as some of the other sites from past promo days. Beggers can’t be choosers though and I love that they featured me! They’re good folks over there at Kindle on the Cheap.
As far as the day goes, it was pretty much a total bust. I had less than 300 downloads for the day (the past 3 days totaled over 5k downloads) and not a single sale since. Not one! That was surprising and I have to admit, pretty depressing to see.(EDIT: I take it back, I have one sale in the UK! Huzzah! Also, gave away my first book in Spain!)
I don’t plan on attending the pity party long though. While this time around didn’t generate any sales (yet), it did give me the possibility over 250+ more fans. That means more people to look for the next book when it comes out.
Now that my time is winding down, I have to make the decision on whether or not I will re-enroll in the program. Many people seem to be turned off due to what’s been happening over there with their new algorithms and the changes in the program, but one thing that I seem to hear steadily is that the program works best when you have more than one book available for purchase.
Being that Tears of a Clown is due out in a month or so, I want to put that theory to the test. I haven’t decided if I’ll put both books into the program or not, but at least one of them will get another three month stint and we’ll see if it’s true that free days for one boosts sales for the other.
I’ll continue to keep everyone updated on how it goes. Hopefully it will work out in my favor otherwise I’ll have to explore more options because this no sales bit is no fun.