I read avidly, rabidly, voraciously – however you want to phrase it. And though I now have gotten to the point where I will just stop reading a book because it is bad (saving much time, thank you), I am still blown away that something as bad as what I was reading managed to get published in the first place. I learn lessons from bad writing – ya’ know, examples of what NOT to do. But I still sit there, saying “Really? Really, that got published? How?”
Last year, I began a spreadsheet of all the books I read. Curiosity… more than anything else. I also have one for all the movies I watch, but movies are my special weakness. Nevermind that though, back to books. So, I have now begun noting not just the author and title but also the publishing house. If I see a trend with a publisher, like every book I read from them is only okay at best and terrible at worst, then that is not a publisher I want to ever submit to. It’s kind of eye-opening. Writers – look at this… really.
Every writer has particular publishers or agents or editors that are their dream place/person to work with. I am no different, but now I also have a list of publishers, agents, editors I want to avoid because I don’t think they are doing their job well or some of the stuff I’m reading wouldn’t be available.
I have nothing against self-publishing. I think lots of good stuff gets published that way, but I also know that the odds of it not being very good are also higher because no publisher, editor, or agent has vetted that piece of work. So, when I get something that has been self-published I go into it with lower expectations and that thought in mind.
If I read a book that has been published through a publisher whether they are big or small, I expect that an agent or editor or both saw merit in this work and the publisher agreed with them. Even the stories that are okay – not great, not even good, just okay – make me wonder. With as much talent as is out there, why are these pieces being promoted? I don’t get it. In all fairness, it’s a really small number of publishers I’m seeing this from, and a really small number of books that are just so bad I can’t even finish them, but more worrying is the plethora of ‘just okay’ writing that is also out there. ‘Just okay’ is not good enough.
I’m not an advocate for or against the big five/six publishing houses, I’d love to be an author with one of them. I also appreciate all the smaller publishers that are opening up opportunities for authors. I like that we can just go self publish with a vanity press or post something on Amazon and hope it takes off. But I don’t like mediocrity or outright crap, and I’m seeing more of it than I care to admit.
I work very hard to write the best I can and improve daily. And, I hope that I will be published soon, but I don’t want to publish something that someone will find so awful they can’t finish it. Is it subjective – sure. But if you are reading/writing in a genre you know you like – and you don’t like a particular book – it’s either the story didn’t resonate or the writing is just not good. I don’t have to love every book I read, but I do want to at least think the writing is good even if the story didn’t grab me. Both were novellas, both were published, both were romance, yet one was great and one was so bad I couldn’t finish it. This makes me sad. Go read or write my friends, the rant is over…