The premise of the Immerse or Die challenge is simple. I get on my treadmill, open a book, and start the clock. Then I do my best to stay immersed in the story until I reach the end of my 40 minute morning walk. If I make it, that book qualifies for all the attention ImmerseOrDie can bring it. But if I can’t stay immersed, the buzzer sounds and the book is closed.
I’ll be the first to admit that it’s a harsh standard. But frankly, I think indie books need a bit more tough love. Too many books are being published, for which real money is being charged, but that aren’t up to professional standards. Sure, I may only be one opinion, but too many of the people indie authors turn to for criticism seem willing to let weaknesses slide a little. And in that process, we all suffer.
Well, in this series, I promise not to compromise.
If somebody is charging us money for their books, we have the right to expect a few things. They should be good stories, well told, with proper spelling, punctuation, and grammar. The logic of the story should be consistent, the choices and behaviors of the characters should be plausible, and they should actually be doing something. Something interesting. Something worth telling stories about. A book that gets all those right will probably go the full 40 minutes with me. Sadly, a great many indie books do not seem to get those basics right.
To make it fair, I operate on a three-strikes policy. Remember, I’m actually trying to stay engrossed. I don’t want to have to stop my workout early, so I really do try to keep my head in the story world for the duration. But when something clubs me across the brain-pan and forces me out of the book’s world, that’s a WTF interruption. And when a title has collected 3 of them, the clock stops, the treadmill grinds to a halt, and I toddle off to write up a report of what went wrong.
Then I share that report with the world, posting here on Creativity Hacker, as well as on Facebook, Google+, Twitter, and Tumblr. They’re also available as a weekly digest email. Just plop your address into the box in the right-hand column (over there –>), and be sure to check “ImmerseOrDie weekly digest” before clicking the “Subscribe” button.
Summary of Issues: I have posted a database summarizing the problems I frequently encounter, along with a discussion of why it’s a problem for me, and with links to examples taken from real books. That info is here.
New Submissions Welcome: I am currently accepting books in fantasy, science fiction, mystery, and thriller genres. Details and submission form are here.
Recently Posted Reports: If you’re accustomed to seeing the most recent reports listed down here, you’ll now find them on the Recent Headlines page. Now you can just jump straight there instead of scrolling past all the explanation stuff up above.
Full Report Index: In addition, you can now find a complete listing of all reports on a single page. The report cards aren’t shown, but the crucial details are there in the text. So you can do in-page searching to find what you’re looking for in no time.