Like the author of the general market novel I abandoned last evening.
I'd been primed to enjoy it, since I had read his first eight. But this was a prequel. The author had jumped back six years, before the wartime events that made his character unique.
Now the character was bland. And without much to do. Throughout the first two chapters I encountered only setup—no engaging story.
Maybe the author thought the story worked.
But I can't imagine how no one among the critique groups and beta readers, then his literary agent, acquisitions editor, and copy editor, could have failed to speak up. Could all these people have missed the initial lack of anything to engage readers?
Or did the author, enjoying a wave of success, choose not to listen?
No one succeeds every time. Sometimes the idea isn't great, sometimes the execution falls short.
Yesterday the Rockies' pitcher didn't have his best stuff. In the bottom of the fifth he walked three batters and gave up five runs. He hadn't done well, and he knew it.
Literary failings aren't like that. We can convince ourselves it works. Or that it doesn't matter, since we've built a following.
But how long can you count on fan loyalty—if you don't strive to deliver your best? That includes being willing to swallow your pride and make changes when trusted advisers dare to tell you something really doesn't work.