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Sunday, June 5, 2016

Should I Be Flattered?

I was doing a search on Amazon for copies of an older book whose copyright has recently reverted when I was surprised to find a used copy of Assassin’s Kiss, with “slight highlighting and underlining marks” available from a bookseller.

I have to admit that I was curious and ended up buying the copy. What was marked and why?
My former editor (Pamela Campbell) was underlined, once in the publication notification and once on the dedication page where I acknowledged all of her hard work. Okay, I’ve checked out publishers and editors before. That’s not too alarming.

The next thing I noticed was that all of the erotic scenes were bracketed (I assume this was what the seller was referring to as highlighting). At this point I’m a little worried that this person was studying just the erotic bits. I do not want to find my love scenes in another person’s work, who would? Yes, I jumped to that conclusion.

Then I remembered my early days in RWA, when I was trying to figure out pacing and just where to put what, when plotting my book. I studied the genre I was interested in, which at the time was the very popular, category romance. I took those books apart, but I took the entire book apart, not just the love scenes. I looked for the “magic formula” because I was convinced that there was one. At the time, the heroes and heroines were for the most part, all perfect and the hero rescued the damsel in distress in the nick of time and everyone lived happily ever after.

Sounds simple but there’s much more to creating a good story whether it’s a sweet or scorching romance, category or single title. It took years to figure out what worked and what didn’t, find my voice, create a story that I was proud of. Along the way, I studied books that I liked and ones that I didn’t.

Even bad books can teach you something and as authors I think we are always studying, whether we realize it or not. In the end, I can’t know what was in the person’s mind that studied Assassin’s Kiss. Maybe, they were searching for an editor and trying to determine what that editor might like. I hope they found studying my book worthwhile.  

It feels odd that someone “studied” a book that I created but in a way, I’m a little flattered and hope they learned what they needed to know, whether it was something they liked or disliked. I wish them well.

Whatever is on your agenda as we pass the half-way mark for the year, I wish you all well.

Until next month, happy reading!

Paris Brandon

No Holds Barred
Barnes & Noble:


Tina Donahue said...

Great post, Paris, and so true. Bad books show you what not to do. With each new novel, I learn something new. It never stops.

You should be flattered that a reader broke down your book. I did that with innumerable bestsellers when I started writing so I could figure out how they worked. :)

Michele Zurlo said...

That's flattering. Kindle [used to?--I haven't checked in years] have a section where they showed the most underlined or highlighted parts of a book on their devices. As an author, I remember puzzling over why the section or phrase appealed to someone. That's kind of cool that you have tangible evidence that someone really connected to your writing.

Paris said...

Thanks Tina. Glad that you enjoyed the post!

Paris said...

Thanks Michele. It is kind of cool that someone bothered to break down my book and like you I do wonder why they chose the sections they did.

Melissa Keir said...

What a fun find! I bought a few used copies of a book that was out of print. It was great to get my hands on the books, especially since I forgot to keep one for myself!

Cara Marsi said...

Very cool that someone studied your book, Paris.

Paris said...


I've actually lost track of a couple of copies and was happy to get my hands on this one. I'm glad I bought it!

Paris said...


Initially, I did panic but then thought about how I studied books in the early days, trying to figure things out and calmed down. It's cool :)

jean hart stewart said...

Interesting....Should make a good topic for a speech....

Paris said...

Thanks, Jean! I didn't think about a speech :)

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