Linda Maye Adams

What makes you stop reading an author?


We used to have a B. Dalton’s in a local mall—now a Starbucks. At least a couple of times a month I was in that store, checking the speculative fiction and mystery area for book series by my favorite authors. Was there anything new?

It was like finding buried treasure when I discovered a new book was out!

Then I would race back and read it in one sitting, and then reread it because it was so good.

But over time, I’d discover that maybe about book 7 or so, something changed. With some books, they felt worn out and tired, like the author was bored with the series. I’d usually buy another book, but here was where I would stop buying hardbacks. At $27.00 a pop, that’s pretty expensive if the book isn’t a satisfying read. After paperbacks went to $7, they started getting too expensive, too.

In the mystery genre also, I started seeing some of the long term series mix first and third. The stories had started out in first, and I liked the voice, so third seemed disruptive. It felt like the author thought they had chosen the wrong POV for the series originally and had now painted themselves into a corner. I think I would have been less bothered by that if it had been in book one, not suddenly introduced 10 books in.

Then there were the books where the author made a very sudden change: A character getting married for no other reason than simply to do it; a character finding lost family after making such a big deal throughout the series that she didn’t have any; and a character who crossed a major line that was completely out of character.

And in some books, it was apparent the author stopped learning, or figured they knew everything about writing. It’s fun as a reading watching an author get better, and especially finding new things to like an enjoy, and disappointing when the author stagnates.

Somewhere in all that, I stopped buying those books because the buried treasure turned into a box of rocks.

I used to give the books a benefit of a doubt, and pick them up at the library. I just had two of those I got, and sad to say, the series is no longer the same.

What makes you stop reading an author?

10 Comments

  1. I stop reading an author when he/she starts sounding preachy.

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  2. Some authors kept/keep writing good books, and you could trust that the next book would be just as good, though sometimes a change of genre or character(s) wouldn’t be as good.

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    • Ouch, yes, that happened with Patricia Cornwall. Her Kay Scarpetta series is so good, brilliantly written. I can totally understand an author wanting to try something new, but her Andy Brazil books were a total disappointment. It’s as if they were written by a completely different, novice writer.

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    • I’ve found that while I like a particular series, that doesn’t always translate to other series written by the same author.

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  3. I’ve actually gone the opposite route, I’ll start reading as series that starts out pretty awful because I can see the potential and I’ll keep reading hoping that the author will get better because the premise of the stories are good and the plot is going places but the writing and the character development is …meh. If nothing improves by book five or six (I’ve gone up to book eight because the promise is RIGHT THERE… SO CLOSE then I’ll drop the series. A lot of paranormal romances and urban fantasy fiction fall into this category.

    But I’ve also started reading authors that have one or two great series and I’m digging those titles so they come out with another and I’ll start those but the new series will just lack, something. Maybe the author is trying something new that doesn’t quite ring true with their writing style. Or the opposite, they’re just rewriting the same cliched stuff that worked with all of their other titled with new names and it’s boring by now.

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  4. Peggy

    I’m about to quit reading a certain romance author because she’s putting modern PC attitudes into the minds and mouths of Victorian era characters with no fallout for said characters. I’m not a stickler for 100% historical accuracy in historical romance, but these attitudes/comments/asides read like they’re put in just so the author can show she’s hip and modern in real life. It’s actively distracting to me.

    I’ve just quit reading another romantic suspense author whose heroines are supposed to be (I presume) “strong” women but who come across in the instant situation as ignorant and/or stupid, leading to putting their own lives and the lives of the heroes in unnecessary danger. Not quite TSTL, but dancing on the edge.

    I don’t know that there’s a pattern to those events, other than they both occurred very recently, but those are the kind of things that make me stop reading an author.

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    • Unfortunately, that seems to be a staple of romance. I’m not bothered about the man rescuing the woman; it’s a competent woman suddenly turning incompetent so he can do it that’s the problem.

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  5. Pearl R. Meaker

    I think some series just need to end – which was why I liked that J.K. Rowling set a stopping point to Harry Potter. Mind you, it made good sense, they were done with school, but she could have kept going anyway. She was smart in ending it.

    Kelley Armstrong did the same with her Women of the Other World series. She set out to do 13 books and that’s what she did and has moved on to other series that she’s doing just as nice a job with.

    I used to like the Dresden Files by Jim Butcher, but for me they’ve gone on too long. Dresden started out helping individuals or small groups of people, now every book he’s saving the world from annihilation. They’ve lost a personalness that was what drew me in.

    I don’t expect an author to keep getting better and better, or growing and growing. I think most everyone has their own top rung in whatever type of work they do, and if they get pushed beyond it – or push themselves beyond it – their level of performance drops. It is “The Peter Principle.” Some people can sit up there and keep us interested and entertained for a good long time because they love it there. They stay inspired there. They know they are their best there. Others keep trying to climb, or are pushed to keep climbing, and, well, there’s only one way to go if you step off that top rung.

    With my series, I don’t know if/when I’ll say it’s done, the second book comes out Sept. 15th so it’s kinda early to tell, but I hope I’ll have the courage to end it if it starts getting stale.

    I also agree with avasterlingauthor – I don’t like it when an author starts using their stories to advance an agenda. I quit reading Terry Goodkind’s Sword of Truth series because (to me at least) he started doing more to promote his religious and political views than writing a good story.

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    • I agree–but if the book’s selling, sometimes the publishers won’t let the author stop the series. There’s one author who wanted to do different books, but the publisher wanted her to continue the series. It’s that best seller mentality creeping in again.

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      • Pearl R. Meaker

        Ooo! That’s not fun, I’m sure. 😦 Fan pressure can be the same. They pressure the publisher and the author, then the author gets an ultimatum of “Write this or write nothing.”

        I wonder if that could be worked around a little easier nowadays with indie/self publishing being so much easier. An author could, at least for a while, use a pseudonym and a picture that isn’t them, and self publish what they are really wanting to write, either while keeping up the series they wish the could quit, or just tell the publisher they’ve chosen to quit and write nothing – with them at least.

        Guess it would depend on their contract . . . 😉

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