Some days you feel like you can't win for losing. Your crit partner doesn't "get" what you're trying to write, a new critique partner brings up a new aspect of your work you hadn't considered before, maybe you get a bad review. Whatever the reason, we all have days where we question our abilities. That can be a good thing, as long as we continue striving to improve. It can also be bad, if we allow those "doubt weasels" to cripple us.
On those days, I try to make myself feel better by looking at some of the nice emails/comments/reviews I've received (and yes, I save them! Some of them are too wonderful not to.) Just knowing someone likes your work can be enough to keep you going.
On that score, I'd like to recommend an awesome writing blog by Harlequin Presents author Maisey Yates. She writes amazing craft posts, and she also discusses the things that challenge her. I always head there when I'm in need of a reality check. You can visit Maisey's site HERE.
What do you do when you're having a rough day, writing wise or otherwise?
Before I go, I'd like to send big hugs to the people affected by this week's deadly storms. You're in our thoughts.
I'll leave this lovely friend of mine to provide you with a little sexy Friday inspiration...
Sometimes I live under a rock…and sometimes that’s preferable to the alternative. I’ve briefly touched upon, as have my fellow muses, the recent discussion of reviews and the authors’ role in responding to or acknowledging reviews, good or bad. Whether or not this discussion was inspired by Jacqueline Howett’s viral experience is a matter of debate—though it seems that the second the first drop spills, the Internet clouds can’t keep others from falling. There are two things we know, though, from experience: 1) This isn’t the first time the author/reviewer relationship has been an issue, and 2) It won’t be the last. Seems every few months or so we need to be reminded about the fine line between craft and criticism.
As I said, I live under a rock at times. I have a fulltime job aside from writing, and it keeps me occupied forty hours a week. Most of the discussion is over by the time I learn there’s been a discussion at all. I’m not sure if that’s a good or a bad thing, because by the time I weigh in, the line in the sand has been drawn and one more opinion in whatever direction isn’t going to make much difference. Also, just because I’ve had X amount of experience with negative reviews doesn’t necessarily make me eligible to comment on Susie Q’s experience with a particularly vicious book blogger. Some authors have been torn to shreds, others have fared a little better, even if their book receives 2 out of 5 or less on the grading scale.
Let’s face it: there are some books that flat out should not have been published. Some authors are incredible writers but not fantastic storytellers; others have wildly creative imaginations but can’t weave two sentences together. Yet no matter whether or not a book is of acceptable quality, no one has any business telling Susie Q she shouldn’t write because she’s not good enough. Susie Q might not be a fantastic writer, but if it gives her pleasure, what business is it of yours? A bad writer commits no crime by submitting a flawed manuscript to a publisher. If the publisher accepts, it’s because they have the confidence to put their brand on the author’s words. It’s the publisher’s job to ensure the manuscript they place a price on has been thoroughly edited and is ready for public consumption. If they fail in doing their part, they hardly ever receive criticism—at least not as publicly or often as does the author. That’s not to say a reviewer won’t make comments like, “the editing is appalling” or “Random Press Name is not known for their quality”, but nine times out of ten, it’s the author that receives the brunt of it.
Of course, this is excluding those books which are self or Indie published (I still have trouble differentiating the definitions of "self-pubbed" and "Indie." This mistake has been rectified...at least until I forget again). When that’s the case, when the author is responsible for the writing and production, it’s a horse of a different color.
These points have been discussed to death, but since I live under the aforementioned rock, there are a few I’d like to rehash.
1) 1)Reviews are for the readers, not the author.
a.Reviewers should not expect authors to seek out their opinions. That’s not what they’re there for.
b.Yes, authors love good reviews and dislike the bad ones to the point of ignoring them. This shouldn't be a surprise to anyone.
c.If a reviewer thinks their comments are worthy of the author’s attention, there are ways to contact the author outside the public forum. If you anticipate a public author response to a review you post, then you're likely doing this for the wrong reasons.
2)2) There’s a difference between bad writing and a bad story.
3)3) Everyone and anyone can review now. One person’s opinion, no matter how loud or shared, does little to affect a book’s success. In fact, bad reviews can actually spurn more book sales.
4) 4)We’re all going to be talking about this again in a few months. This conversation is not going to die no matter how many times we have it.
One last word to authors: bad reviews hurt like a mother-effer. They do. You pour everything you are into a manuscript and some “anonymous jerk” decides to rip it to shreds? Of course it’s going to hurt. That never gets easy, no matter how seasoned you are. Granted, there are exceptions that prove every rule – Stephen King, Nora Roberts, etc who have been read and reviewed so broadly it might not faze them much – but I will never believe the big authors are completely unaffected.
Similarly, no writer will ever escape the wrath of a bad review. A hundred people can love your book, but there will always be the one or two that hate it, and they have a right to their opinion. You just have to decide if the accolades are worth the pain of rejection. For me, that answer will always be yes. Others might be different.
"It’s not personal, it’s business." For writers, this will never be completely true, no matter how we try.
I finished a novella this week, about ten minutes before deadline. Right after that I started critiquing someone else's novella for the same project and went back to yet another novella of mine that needs to be to my EC editor asap. I'm expecting edits this weekend. My point? I'm frazzled. Nothing new for a writer, whether you're published or unpublished. We all juggle multiple deadlines, whether personal or for outside projects, and none of us are immune to the stress of trying to keep multiple balls in the air. But right now, one of mine is falling...and that's the usage of a functional brain.
My hero in my current WIP is a technical editor, and in the course of the novella, mentions how he works with words all the time and therefore doesn't like to use a lot of them in conversation. That's me. And this week, extra words seem beyond me. So I decided I'd ask all of you a question. What are you reading right now? It can be a novel/novella, magazine, non-fiction book. I'm looking for some new recommendations.
I'll play too. When I have a spare minute, I'm reading Jess Dee's Full House. She writes very hot books and this one definitely doesn't disappoint in that regard!
So what's up next on your TBR, if you're not reading anything at the moment? And I promise I'll be back to somewhat normal next week!
I touched on this issue on my own blog not long ago. Since then, a few authors have spoken in regard to the same thing. What am I talking about? The changing relationship between reviewers, book bloggers, and authors.
Nowadays, it's very easy for authors to rub elbows with book bloggers. On Twitter, it's a common occurrence. When a reviewer reads a book they like, they might follow the author. Or, if the author likes the reviewer, they can do the same. A quasi relationship develops. They talk, they mingle, and suddenly it becomes an area of grey. The trouble is, what happens when authors have been burned by reviewers, or find that they no longer want to respond to them or interact with them because they find their opinions of their work (or the work of others) snarky, rude, and without any redeeming factors that will assist an author in becoming better at their craft?
Personally, I think it's a double-edged sword. I'm a people person. I LOVE people. Don't believe me, ask Madelyn Ford. When we met, she told me straight out she didn't talk on the phone. Now? We talk every single day (she can't escape me, mwhahaha!). So when book bloggers started following me on Twitter, I reciprocated. Soon, I was talking to several of them. I didn't find it an issue. After all, some of them like my work, some don't, and others haven't even read my stuff.
With that said...
I've been fortunate. Those who dislike my work approach it with tact and respect. I've never been flamed on a book blog, nor have I been raked across the coals. If people disliked what I created, they stated why, mentioned what they did like, and left it at that. However, I know of a few authors who, after receiving very nasty reviews, have vowed never to submit their books for review again. I suppose that's bound to happen. Not all people review in the same manner.
I will say that I think that as time goes on, the relationships between book bloggers and authors will change. Why? Because authors are becoming frustrated with their inability to respond (even if they remain professional) to a negative or mean spirited review. This is considered bad behavior. Even if the reviewer has no such qualms about speaking out and saying whatever they'd like. Don't misunderstand me, reviewers have every right to their opinion. However, when you have such a huge chasm, one in which one person is granted a freedom another isn't, problems are bound to arise.
Recently, I've been trying to decide what to do when it comes to book reviews. When I started, I contacted several bloggers to ask if they were interested in reading my books. Now, I'm aware of which reviewers enjoy my voice and work, as well as those who don't. So the question becomes -- do I submit a review request? Or do I wait and see if I'm contacted about the book? No longer am I totally nameless in the writing world (that isn't to say I'm well known, just that I've developed a small following of readers) so is it really necessary to put myself out there (it is EXTREMELY difficult to request a review)? Do I have to put myself through the wringer as I wait to see if people like what I write? Is it better to allow them to come to me versus the other way around?
The simple answer is I don't know.
In this new age of reader/author interaction, it was only a matter of time before things like this became an issue. Back in the day, publishers submitted books for review (and most still do). Now authors are responsible for doing their own promo, this includes getting their name out there and contacting people to read their work and spread the word. It's a tricky bridge to cross. Authors have to do what they have to do, but if they decide to distance themselves from book bloggers and reviewers, is it a bad thing? Or simply a personal choice?
Another issue is the "reviews are for readers, not authors," thing. Most reviewers maintain that their reviews are to inform other readers about books they like and dislike. However, some authors have been quick to voice (even if it's behind closed doors) that book reviewers have a mob mentality. Like the popular crowd in high school, if one of the most liked students loves something, others will most likely love it as well. Because, let's face it, no one likes to be the "loner." Don't believe me? Let's just say I remember speaking to a book blogger several months ago who read a book, stated he/she disliked it, and was immediately bombarded with comments such as, "How could you NOT like this book?" When things like this happen, it becomes less about honesty and more about fitting in with the crowd. If this is true, then if a book receives a negative following, an author is bound to retaliate at some point. Just sayin'.
I, for one, hope there can be a common ground. Authors create stories to keep readers entertained. Readers provide authors with money to pay their bills. It's just the way the world works. I would like to point one blog by one of my favorite authors, Lilith Saintcrow, who addresses this trend. She has some excellent points. Review Does Not Mean Immune
I'm curious about what you think about the entire situation. Let me know by leaving a comment below.
Stories have a way of evolving from conception to draft to completion. I know when I began writing my latest release, I had only a vague idea into what it might become, and even then I had no idea I would want turn it into a series.
Most of my closest friends in the biz have divulged the following: they don’t like rereading their work. Understandable, really. It’s no secret that you will be the harshest critic of your writing—God knows I am. Regardless of how proud you are of a manuscript, rereading it, especially after it’s Out There and bullet-proof to corrections, clarifications, or changes, can be painful. It’s especially painful for someone who not only catches an oopsie, but recognizes something that simply doesn’t mesh with what the subsequent books, or even chapters of the same book, discuss.
I encourage all authors, regardless of whether or not you’re drafting a series, to reread your own material as much as possible. In my case, it makes me a glutton for punishment, but I can often pinpoint mechanics in my work that missed the mark, or remind myself of something I need to carry with me to the next project. If you’re working on a series, it’s incredibly important to refresh yourself on the little details you might otherwise be prone to neglect or forget. Not only is it good for you from a writing standpoint, it means you’re doing your research and being fair to your readers.
I'm a bit of a fangirl when it comes to authors I love. I admit it. Since I'm a writer myself, I know how much a well-timed email or review or ranking can help on the days when the self-doubt monkey climbs on your back and won't let go. While I think I'm a pretty picky reader, sometimes a book will grab hold of me and keep me up all night reading. When that happens, invariably I try to contact the author. Not la Nora - though she's given me more late nights than anyone - since I figure she's had enough appreciative strokes to last a lifetime. But if the author's someone sort of in my "sphere" I'll definitely reach out to them and let them know how much their book moved me. Especially if this is an author that does that on a frequent basis. Not too many authors knock it out of the park every time but some do. And I do my best to reciprocate what they've given me - an awesome bang for my buck, so to speak - by sharing my thoughts with them.
By and large, the authors I've written "fan letters" to have said they really appreciated them. Writing can be a tough, lonely business and it helps to know someone's out there waiting for your next book. I hope my praise can help them just as other people's praise has helped me return to the keyboard. It's good karma to send nice thoughts out into the universe. It also helps you build relationships. I've made a few friends just because I shared with them how much their books meant to me. And let me tell you, there are a few authors that elicit my fangirlishness to an extent that rivals a groupie at a rock concert, except I keep all my clothes on. (TMI? LOL)
Right now, the two authors who most rock my socks are Olivia Cunning and Cara McKenna/Meg Maguire. And yep, I've written both of them fan letters in the past week.
Which author(s) are you a fan of? Do you let them know how they've made you feel after you finish one of their books? Does reading their work ever make you want to try that much harder with your own writing?
Yesterday, Jaime mentioned her struggle in trying to decide which route was best for her, agent or no agent. This very personal decision is getting even harder to make with the ever changing publishing industry. And these changes are not exclusive to the Big Six. With the influx of so many smaller e-pubs and indie houses, many are scrambling to fill editing jobs. Others are growing so quickly that they seem unable to keep up and their authors are getting lost in the shuffle.
I doubt there has been a bigger eye-opener than the shut down of Borders stores. Just where I live, the three closest to me have closed, along with a couple hundred others around the country. This was taken at a Border's in Chicago.
Rumors only a couple years ago speculated Barnes and Noble was headed for the same outcome and then they came out with the Nook. While many still seem unsure of the future of digital publishing and e-readers, I wonder if Borders hadn't hid their heads in the proverbial e-book sand, would they be on firmer ground now? It certainly made Amazon the giant it is today.
We've talked a lot here about the changes in publishing. The decisions can be overwhelming, and not just for those getting started. I talk with my crit partners all the time about where to go from here. None of us have the answers. We're just going to have to hold onto our seats and hang on for the ride. Cause I think it's only going to get more wild.
I remember when I decided to listen to my family and give publication a shot. It was terrifying. I did everything I thought I was supposed to. I Googled, I researched, I started following editor's blogs, I went to Barnes and Noble and studied the manuals that would help me create a query letter. It took a good month before I had the information necessary to give it a shot. Afterward, I started the process of submitting my material. Many agents wanted electronic submissions. I can honestly say that hitting "send" was one of the most difficult things I have ever done in my life. My palms were sweaty, my breathing was stinted, and I felt lightheaded. I'd chosen ten agents, submitted to them, and waited.
Some of the agents rejected with a blanket statement, others praised my voice but stated I should continue writing to improve my craft, others never responded at all. It was incredibly disheartening. Believe me when I say a dreaded "R," especially the first, is hard to take. It was around this time that I discovered e-publishing. At first, I wasn't sure. It was an entirely different market. Would people truly want a book in that format? Was there money to be made? Could I make a career out of it? I wasn't sure. It took several weeks to decide I had nothing to lose. Braced for the worst but hoping for the best, I submitted Crimson Moon to The Wild Rose Press and waited. I received word that they wanted the story, but with a revision -- a sex scene. I wrote the scene, got my contract, and I went from being a writer to an author.
Nowadays, trying to decide which is best -- agent, NYT, or e-publishing -- is a difficult choice to make. Yes, I would like to have an agent and be accepted into one of the big six. Will that ever happen? I'm not sure. However, at this point, I'm not certain if that's a good thing or a bad thing. Don't know what I mean? Take a look at the image below:
The photo was snapped in a California Borders bookstore. As you are aware, they are going out of business in many cities. The money simply isn't there. There is also word that Barnes and Noble continues to try and find a buyer for their franchise. This is something everyone in the publishing community is taking note of.
Most like to blame Amazon.com. Amazon provides merchandise at a low cost, ranging from books, to movies, to clothing (kinda reminds you of another corporate giant who put grocery stores and similar chains out of business. Got to love one stop shopping. Right, Wal-Mart?). I think this trend is only going to continue. Right now, you can pay a yearly fee and have all the things you order delivered to you free of charge, sometimes receiving the item the very next day. With the cost of gas increasing, it would make sense to order and wait. Not to mention, now there are reading devices created just for books. It's no longer necessary to drive to your local bookstore. You can get what you want with a click of a button.
Where am I going with this? Simple. I'm not certain where the large NYT houses and agents who supply them with clients will be in the future. This isn't to say I'm jumping on the self-publishing bandwagon. Rather, I'm stating that indie e-publishers such as Ellora's Cave, Samhain, Carina, Loose Id, Liquid Silver, etc have already put themselves on the map. Why would an author need or want an agent when they can do the work themselves and keep their entire cut of the profit?
Don't get me wrong. I still want an agent. I think all authors do. But I've come to the conclusion that if it doesn't happen, it won't be the end of the world or my career. I'm curious to see what the industry is like in ten or fifteen years. How about you?
I've managed to catch up to Mila Ramos on her tour for
Echoes and Illusions.
Here's the question Mila:
What is the hardest thing (for you) about being a published Author?
The world of writing and publishing is like an episode of Dr. Who, mysterious, interesting and somewhat confusing. I’ve been writing for about 5-6 years and the two consistent obstacles that have been not only difficult to manage but a task that I try to overcome are time management and learning different styles of marketing techniques.
Time management is particularly hard for me at this moment because I’m trying to finish a degree. When I first started writing I had just finished my bachelor’s degree and had taken some time off from school. Since then I have gone back to school, gotten my master’s degree and am now in my second year of the doctoral program. Usually it’s a bit easier during the summer months since there is no need to worry about classes, but it’s easier said than done. Usually the urge to write comes when I’m supposed to be reading articles or working on something chemistry related.
With the writing industry going more towards electronic publication or at least ease of publication, marketing for the increase of sales is easier and harder all at once. Marketing is my little pain in the butt. I love being able to promote the book to get it out there, but sometimes it can drive me crazy trying to figure out new ways to sell the book. Coming up with ideas of how to sell it and persistently being on top of new ways to promote the books is a remarkable. I admire many of the authors and company who have their own marketing teams. I once heard that as a writer there are two things you must always remember, take care of you and get a marketing team. As one still pretty new in the business, I can say I will gladly hire a marketing team for the promotion my books. I with pleasure admit that anyone in the business of marketing who does it well is amazing, astounding and has my deepest respect.
For any authors wanting words of advice in this matter or others, I would highly recommend take it all one step at a time. This is in particular vital when it comes to the world of marketing. One of the mistakes I made was getting flustered when marketing did not come as easy, and temporarily accepting that my work just would not be available to readers. I have learned a great deal since that moment. One of the mainly significant points I have learned is that this, the writing business, takes time. Do not give up hope, keep your dreams (whatever they may be for you) alive and keep nurturing them. You will succeed.
Over the last few weeks, there has been a notable amount of excitement in the writing community, namely with very public curtain calls—either intentional (as Madelyn pointed out in her post last week) or unintentional (regarding what will forever be known as the flounce heard around the world). Madelyn had some great insights in her post, and I very much encourage everyone to heed her advice. It’s easy to jump on the bandwagon when you see an Author Behaving Badly, but as an author, I can tell you a bad review can be crushing.
That being said, there is something to be universally acknowledged once something is released on the Interwebs. It doesn’t matter if you’re an Indie author or with a press—your chance to make your manuscript perfect is ON YOU. Either through edits, crit partners, proofreaders, whatever the case may be, for a few precious weeks, maybe even a couple months, your manuscript is exclusive only to those helping you prepare for the release. Once it’s out there, there is no backspace bar. There is no changing or clarifying or telling your editor, “This is what I meant by this.” It becomes the property of everyone, and at some point, it doesn’t matter whether or not the reader “gets” what you intended. Or heck, even if they do get it, they might not like it. And that’s their right.
Letting go of your work is amazingly difficult. You put in so much effort, all to make your manuscript perfect through thousands of corrections and rounds of revisions. And suddenly it’s out there and you’re past point of no return. No looking back. Once it’s out there, it’s out gone.
So yes, it is impossibly difficult distancing yourself from your work. Everyone should bear in mind that behind a bad review is a book, and behind every book is an author who worked tirelessly to get that book published. But at the same time, authors, be aware of yourself. Understand that readers are allowed to find faults with your book, your voice, your characters, your plot…heck, they’re allowed to just plain not like it, even if they don’t have a reason.
It’s a dog-eat-dog world...and, authors, we’re all wearing milk-bone underwear.
Rosalie wrote a great post on Monday about how nice it is to have supportive people to celebrate your successes and help endure your difficulties. This post is sort of related to that one.
It's easy to lose sight of all the good in your writing life if you focus on all the challenges. And boy, there are a lot of them, and they're growing by the day. In the old days writing an excellent story along with a little bit of luck and good timing was enough to get you published. Not that it was easy - not by a long shot. But at least the path was fairly straight. Want to be a commercial author? Then most likely your road will lead you to the "Big 6" in New York. Nowadays that's not so. You can traditionally publish, self-publish, small trade or e-publish…the choices are endless. Which has been a wonderful thing for authors but it can also be overwhelming. With so many choices and possibilities, how do you stay focused on your dream? What if your CP or best girlfriend or that author you know casually has just gotten the contract you were hoping for? Then what?
What I've always tried to do is remind myself of one positive thing I've accomplished lately or something I'm grateful for. It doesn't take the sting of rejection away but it does remind you that your world is bigger than just one setback. And if I'm jealous of someone else's good fortune, I try to congratulate them before that envy takes hold. If I can do something nice for them - even to share in their happiness - it helps negate my own jealousy. Though sometimes jealousy can be a very useful emotion if it helps spur you on to greater things yourself!
Do you have anything you're particularly grateful for today, writing-wise or otherwise?
Yes, it has happened again. Another author has opened her mouth and created a shit storm. Only this time, she decided to go out in a blaze of glory. In her own terms. Now, I'm not condoning what she said. But neither am I going to jump on the recent bandwagon of slicing and dicing the newest author who is "behaving badly".
Authors Behaving Badly. It's not new. Nor is it all that surprising. We see individuals say and do thoughtlessly mean things on the internet all the time. But authors are supposed to, for some reason, live to a higher standard. We are supposed to turn a blind eye to the snarky reviews that not only trash our work, but us as people. At least if we want to sell books.
But what nobody tells you about this business is how HARD it is. How disillusioning. And what I've heard from others who have been in it far longer than I, it doesn't get any easier. Sometimes it just seems easier to say, "This is it. I quit."
So I challenge you all, when you see these kind of rants, to consider that maybe, sadly, that author has no place else to turn. Instead of spewing words of hate and then going to Goodreads and Amazon, making up reviews to further the discord, offer that author a small bit of kindness. Even if it is by not pressing the comment button. And then say a small prayer of thanks that you have those around you to whom you can turn when things just seem to get to be too much.
I know I do. And to my fellow Muses, I can only say thank you. For being my rock. My friends.
Subjective: a (1):peculiar to a particular individual :personal<subjective judgments>(2): modified or affected by personal views, experience, or background <a subjective account of the incident>
There is one thing authors have to accept when it comes to publishing their work -- everything is subjective. Ranging from submissions, rejections, revisions, reviews, etc. Everyone approaches a story differently. What someone might like, someone else might hate. It's a harsh reality of being an author. Compounding matters is most publishers and agents will like your stuff or they won't, which will send you down that treacherous path of deciding what to do when you get a dreaded rejection and have to start all over.
All is not lost, however.
Just as subjectivity is hard, it can also be a blessing in disguise. How, you ask? Because when you find the right fit for you book, the right agent or editor who loves your work, everything falls into place. I had a conversation with my fellow muses Madelyn Ford and Rosalie Stanton. We all agree that there is nothing better than being acquired by an editor who enjoys what you create, wants more, and treats you as more than a way to pay the bills. Relationships like these are the most important you'll make. Not only will you learn from a good editor, but if they are passionate about your books, you have the support needed to continue doing what you do.
So if you receive a rejection from an editor or agent, dust yourself off and try again. Like a lock, not all keys will fit. However, when you find the most important piece of the puzzle, things will fall into place. There is no better feeling in the world. Keep writing, keep submitting, and when you want to tear your manuscript apart and start all over again, don't forget that there is someone out there who will love your voice, your characters, and will want more of them.
For all the highs and lows, the writing world can be a very lonely place. In the past, we have discussed the importance of betas and critique partners, if only so you present a potential publisher with the cleanest manuscript possible. Yet even considering the invaluable services good crit partner can provide, there remains a higher place of need other authors or readers fill. I don’t know where I would be now were it not for the few but precious friendships I’ve developed since entering the publishing world.
It’s easy being there for someone when times are good. Yet for all the trials an author must go through beyond preparing a manuscript for submission, having an ear to bend during the lower points does wonders. When you receive a bad review—and authors, this is inevitable—talking with friends can help, but no one understands how much a bad review stings as much as someone who has been there already. The same can be said for any number of things: edits, rejection, blog posts, Twitter rants, the full shebang. Having other authors you know and trust to at least listen, even if they don’t agree with you, helps out more than you can imagine.
Fans will be there for the good times. Friends will be there for all the times. Fans forget, friends do not. And that difference makes ALL the difference.
As a writer of erotic romance, sometimes it's easy to cross the line and go over the top. If you're not careful, that sex scene you spent days, weeks, months crafting may end up going places you didn't want to go. With each scene in a book - and with sex scenes definitely - you're building a certain tone. While you're in the thick of things, it can be hard to see how each individual scene fits into the whole and when you've crossed the line. Everyone has a different threshold of what's sexy and what's not.
I read a book today that I really enjoyed. What I didn't enjoy? Well, there were a couple things. Number one, the hero got involved in some adult movies. Okay, for some people they'd shut the book right there. Not me, because the reasons were well-motivated (to me anyway) and I wanted to see where the author went with it. The problem became not the scenes shot for the adult movie, but that the intimate action between the h/h almost seemed to me to get less attention. There was plenty mentioned, but it was glossed over.
That said, I don't need every nuance described in a sex scene. Despite the usual heat level of my own writing, I can be quite happy with only a partially open bedroom door, depending on how it's handled. The problem was with this book is that I think certain situations set up reader expectation of how explicit the book will be. Mention someone choosing to be in adult movies? Well, I think that's going to be a pretty darn hot book. And while this was fairly well written, my expectations were not met.
But the opposite can be true too. Occasionally my wise CP Taryn has clued me in to the fact that I've gotten lost in the forest o'sex and my characters are getting short shrift. As well as I know them, sometimes I forget to show them getting to know each other and that's critical. A sexual journey isn't enough. Some might say it can be, but I think that can be difficult to pull off.
What about you? Do you have a certain "sweet spot" for the amount/explicitness of sex scenes you read or write?