I'm reading a book by an author I like very much...today. Since I like her current work, I went back to find her earlier books and, well, the one I bought just isn't as good.
Of course there's a learning curve, and some authors climb to better writing over time while others plummet downward, racing to keep a book a year in the hands of readers. And not every book can be a gem. But this book, unfocused, too cute in places, and unsure of what tone it wants to strike, got me thinking how many times we reject an author after reading one book, unaware that he or she has done better elsewhere. If I'd read this book first, I probably would have looked past this author's books on the shelves from then on.
As it is, I'm giving the author a break, enjoying her storytelling ability and ignoring those moments where the characters stop and tell you something that slows the story and shouldn't be there. A favorite writer has to get pretty far off the mark before I give up on him, but it does make me stop and think. There are a lot of writers out there, and if readers don't like the first taste they get of your work, they have lots of alternate choices. If you only get one chance, every book you offer the reading public has to be all that it can be.