I've mentioned on here that I'm a member of Amazon Vine, which means I get some free stuff in exchange for reviews. I do mostly books. Go figure :P. And most of those books, I've realized, are first books. I could turn this into a post about marketing and new authors, but I won't. Just saying it does make sense, since it's the first books that need to get "out there." I know this all too well.
You can see some of my negative reviews for Amazon Vine, first books HERE and HERE and HERE.
I do have positive reviews, of course. Some first books have blown me away. (For example, THIS and THIS and THIS.) But the negative ones are what have made me think. Because as a new author, I wonder if I should be more understanding. That thought has only recently occurred to me in regards to Amazon Vine books. And it's because of Hemlock.
Okay, I know this is feeling wander-y. Bear with me.
As I was reading Hemlock, I noticed some of the same "first time author" issues I've faced. Stating the obvious, over-explaining, focusing on plot to the detriment of characterization. In some ways, those things irritated me. I found myself thinking--and this is where the whole connection thing comes into play--"Why aren't these things being fixed? This book is published by one of the Big Six publishers! They have the big bucks, and hire the best editors!" I realized I was setting the bar higher for first time authors with big presses than first time authors with small presses. Because I'm with small press, and yet my editors have scoured my writing for all these issues! So why are the big press editors not?
I feel like shaking my finger at them. Shame, shame! If we can do it with our little budget, then you surely can!
And yet....I felt a connection to this author because of shared issues. And I actually enjoyed the plot, once things got going. The author reminded me of me, the way she planted clues and revealed things later. Her ideas aren't too far from my own thinking, too--I actually have a short story published that involves a small town with an organized vigilante group of werewolf hunters. I liked that the romance in the book wasn't the main plot line, that it was second to the mystery that evolved. I wanted to root for her, because doing so was like rooting for me.
Honestly, this post isn't meant for anything but me to share this experience. I doubt I'll change the way I review books, whether through Amazon Vine or not. But the idea that ALL first authors have issues to overcome, regardless of who their publishers are, has shifted my view a bit. It's also made me believe even more strongly that I could have found a large press to take me.
What say you? Should first time authors be reviewed differently than veterans?
PS--the cover of the book is gorgeous, isn't it? But it has nothing at all to do with the story. So not getting that trend...