Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Whizzing on Bestsellers

I understand not liking an author. They make both chocolate and vanilla for a reason. What I don't get is the urge some folks have to raise a leg and whizz on anyone having success. It goes hand in hand with the common lament that So much of what they print nowadays is crap. There are too many books being published and most of them are garbage.

The unspoken follow up is of course Why won't they publish my tomes of deathless prose? I'm twice as good as the piles of poo they call urban fantasy/romance/mysteries/insert genre of choice.

JR Rowling did nothing more than make a mish mash of familiar tropes smushed up with too many adverbs and dialogue tags. Whizz!

Dan Brown is derivative and silly and his characters describe themselves while looking in the mirror. Whizz!

James Patterson writes twenty word chapters and the female characters are more plot device than woman. (okay, I'll give you the last one. He's not my cup of tea.) Whizz!

It seems that I can't go for a week without someone decrying the general state of publishing and the lack of quality product. Get over it.

Seriously, there is a reason McDonald exists. I enjoy fine dining and an excellent steak. I like swiss chocolates and truffles. I like chicken nuggets and Hershey bars too. There is room on the shelf for them all.

The reason things are bestsellers are because people like them. I like Harry Potter and enjoy JK Rowling's writing style. I get sick of the nasty, bitter "why should she be rich and famous when she isn't any better than I am" talk. Face it. She ignited something with Harry Potter and rode that rocket to the moon. Good for her.

There is (IMHO) no such thing as manuscripts that "deserve" to be published or don't "deserve" to be published. Editors don't make decisions that way and there is no reason for them to. Here is a shocking revelation, but they publish things that they like and that they think people will buy. Shocked? It gets even more amazing. "Deserve" has nothing to do with the process. It doesn't matter if the author is a lovely person, what the author has sacrificed or how hard they have worked. It's about the novel. (I'm talking specifically about novels and not NF where the author and qualifications make a huge difference.)

I've heard that editors don't care about books and I'm telling you that nothing is farther from the truth. They love them, adore them, have a passion for the business. Business. Yes, it's a business and they are looking for things they think people will like. You may not like books about boy wizards, murderous albinos, or serial killers, but enough people obviously do. When an author strikes a chord, they can go from struggling to the bestseller list.

Some books get to the bestseller list because of the author's great backlist, regardless of whether this new book is great or even adequate. That is okay. I'm at peace with that. Bestsellers make a convenient target for snark.

It's perfectly valid to not like an author for specific reasons [and for the record, this isn't about book reviews] I don't get Patterson. But it really isn't my job to announce that he's crap and that anyone who reads him should be ashamed for perpetuating such dreck and damnit we should yank his books in favor of quality literature. People like him. They are entitled to without me taking a whizz on them for it.

It's easy to feel jealous. I know there are times when I read something and know in my heart that I write as well as this author. This gives me hope in a strange way. It isn't that this author "took my slot". It means I still have a chance. People with my skills are being published and I have faith that I will too.

Thus ends my rant. Are blogs great? I can take a whizz here instead of doing it on the people annoying me.



Amitha S. J. Knight said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Amitha S. J. Knight said...

Hear, hear! You have said what I always think when someone complains about a specific author and how his/her terrible book should never have been published.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for this post. I too am tired of hearing about how all bestselling authors are crap. Seriously, they are bestsellers because people choose to buy them because they think they're interesting. And really, who am I to say what someone else can or can't find worthwhile? Why is it that people often accept that other people can like different music, watch different television shows, etc, but when it comes to books if you like something they don't then you're just perpetuating the publishing of crap and you don't know what's good?

Mary B said...

Oh good! I was afraid I was just have a cranky moment. Lets hear it for the bestsellers. May we someday join their ranks!

Kim said...

Well, I like Patterson - but I do agree that he writes women just to give the men someone to sleep with =)

The phrase "deserves to be published" makes me grit my teeth. No one deserves it - every last author who's published has worked hard to get there. They might not write what I like, but they're writing stuff that somebody likes...

(I love Harry Potter as well)

Sassee B said...

A lot of people simply like to have a target for their crankiness. Writers tend to target other authors. If they whizz on a particular author too often... you can bet it's probably jealousy making them say those things (whether they admit it or not!).

Melanie Avila said...

I have the same reaction when I read something that seems at the same style or quality as my writing. It gives me hope that I will be published, too!

Jen said...

Let me jump on the bandwagon with y'all and say that I find that sort of behavior annoying as all get out.

I used to love James Patterson, but I can see why people don't (especially since I'm bored with him now, lol).


Live and let live, I say. If I'm ever published, there will be people that hate my stuff, too, whether or not it's a bestseller, hee hee.

Let 'em hate on.

John Elder Robison said...

There will always be slots for new authors who write material people want to read.

The more books you sell, the quicker some people are to criticize, but the publishers are also that much quicker to buy your second book.

Frankly, I would rather have a "poorly written" and "choppy and vulgar" book that sold 250,000 copies than great acclaim and 2,000 copies sold.