There are few people in this world that like spoilers. When we see a movie or a TV show, or we read a book, we want to experience all the twists and turns without foreknowledge that might ruin the surprise. When discussing new things, people are usually polite enough to look out for giving away plot points and surprises to people who haven’t seen/read it yet. When posting online, many sites even offer features to block out spoilers behind same-color text or show/hide buttons.
But what do you do if it’s your book people want to talk about?
As an author, I love it when people want to discuss my books with me. It’s one of the most rewarding parts of having written them. It does become a juggling act though to keep track of who has read what. Many of the people I’m closest to have read beyond my published work. They are the ones who are guinea pigs for my manuscripts, reading them in raw form before they get all edited into a neat little (well, ok, not-so-little) package. Among them they know a lot of things that the general public doesn’t about the Twinborn Trilogy. At the same time, I had to be mindful as well that in mixed groups, I have to know who has read the least among them before I discuss anything.
With people who have bought and read Firehurler it’s a little easier. I know where everything ends up by the end of the book as far as character development so I know what I can talk about without giving anything away from Aethersmith (the second book in the series, due out this summer). Also, since I’m often conversing via chat or email, I don’t have the concerns about people overhearing things that would be spoilers for them.
The biggest balancing act though is when it comes to Aethersmith and discussions of things like blurbs, cover artwork, and plot synopses. How do you go about piquing the interest of would-be readers without exposing them to things you wanted to save as surprises in an earlier work. For me, I’ve taken pains to couch the plot summaries in wording that will give hints to returning readers so they will know what’s going on, while at the same time being vague enough that someone who hasn’t read Firehurler won’t be able to glean anything spoilerish from it. For the cover, I chose a scene featuring a new character who doesn’t appear in Firehurler. Anyone who can tell who is pictured there (without being told) has read Firehurler already and had some pretty good detective skills.
In all, the benefits of putting the word out there about new books will always take precedence over mincing around mysteries. It’s up to me to strike that balance between giving people reason to be interested and by the same token, maintaining that element of surprise at what is in store.