The Paranormal Book Club recently asked their readers what is the “ONE thing you CAN NOT stand about a book when reading it?”
While this is not a scientific survey, the results are nonetheless interesting. In a classic example of procrastination, I spent way too much time categorizing the issues, and I hereby present the results to you.
But first, two caveats:
- A ton of people (21 people, that is, and if they average 95.2 pounds each, they weight a ton) complained about being interrupted while reading. A ton and a quarter (26 people) complained about reaching the end of a book. While I empathize, these issues aren’t the book’s fault, so I excluded them from my top ten list.
- This list came from readers of the paranormal genre, and many paranormal books are e-books, or series, or self-published. This affects the List of Hates; for example, many comments apply primarily to series. The pet peeves would be different for readers of, say, Charles Dickens, or heroic Etruscan sagas.
Without further ado, here is the list:
#10 Thing Readers Hate (tie)
Weak female characters. (In a genre largely aimed at female readers, you’d think writers would know better.)
Books in a series that end inconclusively. (Readers seem to have problems with the endings of series books. See also numbers 8, 5, and 3.)
#9 Thing Readers Hate
Killing off a main character. (George R.R. Martin, please note. If you stop slaughtering your cast, Game of Thrones might actually amount to something.)
#8 Thing Readers Hate
Waiting for the next sequel in a series to appear. (George R.R., you should be careful about this one, too.)
#7 Thing Readers Hate
Too much recapping. (Obviously, this applies primarily to books in a series. And to soap operas.)
#6 Thing Readers Hate
Sexual dysfunction. (Not what you think! This includes gratuitous sex, boring sex, and overly graphic sex.)
#5 Thing Readers Hate
An unsatisfying ending. (See also numbers 10, 8, and 3.)
#4 Thing Readers Hate
Annoying or whiny main characters. (I was astonished at the number of times the word ‘whiny’ appeared. Stephenie Meyer, please note that Bella was singled out.)
#3 Thing Readers Hate
Cliffhanger endings. (These are, apparently, common in series. Readers think they’re a Very Bad, No Good, Horrible ploy to get readers to buy the next book in the series. But I bet it works.)
#2 Thing Readers Hate
Too much description. (Overwhelmingly, readers complained about description that slowed down the action. J.R.R. Tolkien, please note.)
(And what is it about authors whose middle initials are double-R? Is Stephenie Meyer actually Stephenie R.R. Meyer?)
And the #1 Thing Readers Hate, by a wide, massive, overwhelming, 3 to 1 margin
Typos, bad grammar, and bad editing. (Self-pubbers, please note–get your masterpiece edited BEFORE you publish it. Please, please, please!)
(Publishing companies, please note–you aren’t immune, either. I understand that perfection is elusive, but I see more and more errors these days. Stop laying off editors to save yourselves money.)
What about you? Anything you would add to the list? Tell us about it in a comment.
And what about me? If any of you find any of those horrid typos in any of my e-books (The Trial of Tompa Lee, The Tribulations of Tompa Lee, or The Midas Rush), please go to the Contact Page and let me know, okay? Truly, I mean it!