Comments: 5
"So it goes." 5 months ago
I run into this all the time. I recently read a book that was initially self-published and then picked up by a big publisher. It was a HORRIBLE book. It angered me for all the reasons you state above: it had nothing but endless lists of what the people ate and ridiculous "mystery" happenings that made no sense. They never could have happened in real life b/c each person doesn't exist alone in the real world. There are other people. I know at least that much. So I expected it to be panned by everyone, but when I looked around, and on every single site, it had many 5 star reviews calling it "breathtaking" and "edge-of-my-seat mystery," you get the idea. So I experienced it from mystery readers, and you've experienced it from romance readers, and I'd bet we can cover every other genre to some extent. I usually grade pretty easily. I'm constantly rating things 3-5 stars. It takes a lot for me to go lower. I rarely rage about a book I can't finish, because I just don't review books I don't finish, but not b/c they're horrible, they just don't fit me. I actively searched for low-rated goodreads books recently, since "review book title" takes you to GR unless you add "-amazon, -goodreads" to the search (a pain.) The only ones I could find were clearly anti-gay books. That's the only thing I found rated low, abhorrently anti-gay books. Nothing else. And there were only a handful of those. I'm glad everyone can read, but I do wish we'd all (me included) be more discriminating. Maybe there would be better books.
Linda Hilton 5 months ago
"Maybe there would be better books."

You just won today's Internet!

Linda Hilton 5 months ago
(I wanted that ^^^ by itself!)

I don't remember where it was, maybe on GR, but it was several years ago that I got into a discussion about why I do review the books that are, shall we say, less than satisfying. Why do I spend so much time on these analytical reviews, which often end up being way way way longer than however much of the book I read. And I said it's because I really wanted the book to be better. I felt weirdly sorry for the characters. I wanted their story to be better, to be told better so they could have their HEA and the reader could close the book with a smile. And of course the appropriate ending for a mystery or a thriller or a horror story.

One of the books I read for Halloween Bingo last year was pretty much a horror story, but it had so many holes in the plot that even I, who never reads horror, felt bad for the book. I mean seriously, I'm overly empathetic about BOOKS! But that's how I felt. Why weren't these books better written? Why didn't the writers know better?

And why don't the readers know better?? Have writers and publishers shoved so much crap at readers that they/we don't know good writing from bad?

I'm a self-publishing author. I love self-publishing, and I want to see other self-publishing authors put out great books with great characters and great stories. All too often it just isn't happening.
It's publishers, often enough, who hold themselves out as "upholding standards" -- as in, "with a self-pubbed book, you have to be willing to let yourself in for a disappointment, because there is no quality control and people can basically upload their junk unfettered and then get 5-star reviews from adoring friends and families ... whereas with a traditionally published book, you know there has been a Careful Editing Process overseen and handled by Professionals." Given that rhetoric, this sort of experience really should backfire badly on both the publisher and the author in question. It's both telling and disappointing that this doesn't seem to be the case -- basically, once a major publisher has marketed a book as the best thing since sliced bread, most people seem to be willing to ditch their capacity for critical thought and go all "1984" ("good is good, and bad is also good, because the world is blissful and we just can't have that sort of negativity in our lives").

This is one of the reasons (the most important one, really) why I'm living by the rule never to open a hyped book in the year when it's published but to always wait a year or more and see whether it's able to live down the hype on its own merits. Not that this approach is made any easier by the new trend (particularly in genre fiction, e.g. mysteries or historical novels) to pile a sequel onto book 1 and a third book onto that sequel before you've even had time to come up for air ... and thus establish a bestselling series before any critical voices can ever have much of an impact. I've seen this happen several times in recent years, and it annoys me no end.
Linda Hilton 5 months ago
Yes, the whole series thing bothers me, too. Mysteries, maybe not so much because one mystery can be solved at a time, The End, satisfaction. It bothers me more with romance because I never feel as if the HEA is really EVER after. I know the strategy is more along the lines of "Let's introduce a whole bunch of characters and then we'll spin off a story for each of them," but it still feels awkward to me.

What really gives me pause, however, is that underlying trust the reader puts in The Publisher to make sure the product is decent. In this particular case, Canelo Publishing is relatively new and maybe can't be called "traditional" yet in the same way that Harper or Simon & Schuster (may they rot in hell) is. But they've all taken on that gatekeeper mantle one way or the other and maybe they're thinking that will cover for sub-par editing? If it affects a newcomer like Canelo, can it also affect -- and has it maybe already done so -- the other publishers?

I can't review on either Amazon or GR, so I'm not sure whether I should send a tweet to Canelo or not. I mean, I still believe reviews are for readers, not for authors or publishers, who are supposed to know better. But now I'm wondering if maybe they in fact don't? Is Canelo just counting on the market for romance to cover up their not knowing how to edit?

I don't know. It's a puzzlement.