Writers can find that after certain amount of feedback, they can figure out the “customer pain points” of their story. The question then is what to do about it. For a long time my attitude was, hell, I wrote what I want, so there, but lately I’ve been adopting a different approach. I’m now thinking, what can I do to relieve their “pain” but without sacrificing my own perceptions. I’m treating it more as a software bug, and instead of closing the issue as “works as designed” I’m trying to resolve it as “fixed”.
I first did this with Zombie Nights a year or so ago. The customers didn’t like the way the character Racine just showed up in the last chapter, out of nowhere. “Surprise!”. I still wanted her to be something of a surprise, but I thought that a little foreshadowing might help the cause, so I added a brief scene with her a bit earlier on, although not by name and concealed behind a locked door. It was surprisingly effective, as I’ve not seen a single complaint since then.
Recently something similar occurred with Renegade Robot, an engaging little stor that never found much traction in the world at large. I serialized it on Wattpad and was very lucky to have it read by some good writers who all touched on the same “pain point”, a misunderstanding that was deliberate but confusing. I believe I’ve addressed it with a single sentence inserted into the first chapter. It may not be enough, but time will tell.
I’m also doing the same right now with Freak City. A customer pain point was the abruptness of the ending. I added a few more sentences that serve more as hand-holding – changing nothing but explaining a little more, and leading more definitively into the sequel. Originally there was no sequel and no intention of one, but in the end two more books followed, so it only helps to nudge the story along a bit.
This is one of the advantages of being an amateur writer. I can easily modify my books at any time. Past readers are stuck with what they read, it’s true, but future readers get the new version, and as far as I can tell, only the future is ahead of us.