ETA: I was told Dani Alexander identifies as male, something I missed in the website perusal and in the back of the book blurb. Post is edited to reflect this.
I start like some kind of seventh grader with a dictionary definition because I was having a nerd moment, and I wanted to call this an apology but knew the definition I was after is a tad bit obscure. But this really is an apology, so you get my anal and probably stupid little screenshot and red arrow. It’s a defense of a concept I swear sometimes is on life support, especially in digital-first publishing, though sometimes even in traditional New York publishing. Maybe I’m defending the horse and buggy. I hope not. I really, really hope not. Because I believe, all the way down to the soles of my feet, that authors of all ability and at all stages of their careers are better off with an editor, and that editor is an even better aid to a stronger book when he or she is at a strong and stable publishing house.
This isn’t a new conviction, but it got a much greater boost this weekend as I read Dani Alexander’s self-published Shattered Glass. If you follow me on Goodreads you might have seen my public struggles to get on board with this book everyone else kept enjoying but I wasn’t able to get into. I did finish it finally. I enjoyed the book. Alexander is a talented, gifted storyteller who ought to do very well no matter how he chooses to be published. I’ll also point you to his own words on his website where he discusses why he chose self-publishing over traditional, and I wholly empathize with the need for ready cash and a career that starts yesterday. Man do I ever. I encourage you to purchase his book and read it for yourself no matter how I move you (or don’t) with my apology. He has a strong voice, a sense of humor, and a strong instinct for timing and pacing. This is a cop story and a mystery in addition to a romance (though we’ll discuss that more in a minute). It’s receiving rave reviews all over the map, which should be strong incentive for you to give it a try.
My personal reaction includes all this I just said, plus an admiration for someone who has thought and planned and worked his tail off to not only produce a novel but to go through the grueling, maddening, bone-depleting work that is successful self-publishing. However, my reaction also includes some frustration. I found the story often lacked cohesion, and in fact it took not one, not two, but three tries to get into it. The only reason I continued was that Sarah Frantz kept telling me it was good, and every time my Goodreads update came through someone else was reading it and loving it and I was feeling very left out. A reader tried to loan it to me (I managed to biff up the kindle transfer, sigh) and so I gave in and bought it, and after working hard, I found my feet and got into the story. My only real issue with it was this lack of cohesion, particularly in the beginning, though like many m/m novels and digital first (and hell, everything lately) I felt the end could have used more as well. Sometimes I wasn’t sure if this wanted to be a romance or a mystery, and the central question was not always obvious to me. Too many times I felt as if I were reading through water instead of a sharpening lens.
The cohesion issue to me is huge, and it’s something I generally have zero patience for in genre fiction. I actually don’t have patience for it anywhere, and let me tell you, it’s rampant in the genre of literary fiction, which is usually some kind of intellectual masterbatory nightmare and will die the inglorious death it deserves. In romance, in mystery, in science fiction, cohesion is critical. It is the reason we read. Well, a few people still sit down and read because they have the desire to improve their minds and relish a challenge. Most of us are just here for a good ride. We are not interested in making a book work. We want it to work right out of the box, no software upgrades, no driver hunts, no fiddling with knobs and dials. We are there for a party and we want it without work. Speaking both as a writer and a reader, we deserve it. Continue Reading →