"The years passed, mankind became stupider at a frightening rate." (Narrator from Idiocracy)
|What's a guy of average|
intelligence to do
in the dumbed down future?
Let me preface this article by first saying I have nothing against the wonderful industry of e-publishing. I believe the ever-increasing popularity of publishing books in this format is due, largely in part, to the fact that it makes novels more available and easy to access on just about any mobile platform. (Hey, I have a Kindle and I enjoy it!) However, I do take offense with some authors who believe just about anything is publishable and, yeah, anyone should be happy with it and not rip it apart. Those who believe this way, believe the content (i.e. their story, the creative idea behind his/her work, the saturated genre) is fine the way it is, and that the craft (i.e. the wordcraft, the language, the actual plot, the beauty in which one creates the story, the actual prose) isn't all that important. In other words, if the story is dumbed down for the reader, who cares? I care, and so should any serious writer/reader out there.
Why have my hackles been raised? For two reasons: firstly, celebrity (or celebutante) authors, and secondly, a recent article pertaining to a poorly written e-book series getting snatched up for traditional publication.
|The Truth About|
by Nicole Richie
by Amanda Hocking
❝Hocking, it's safe to say, is not a stylist. Her work reads like a high school creative-writing assignment, full of typos and misused words and lifeless language. But while wordcraft may not be her thing, Hocking definitely does have something. Despite its faults, the trilogy zips along pleasantly enough, and although the books aren't remotely in the same league as Harry Potter or The Hunger Games, they do poke at the same pleasure centers.❞And as to Locke? This is what Brunner has to say:
❝The latest, Vegas Moon, features characters with forced-funny names like Dr. Phyllis Willis and Fast Eddie Pickles, and a flimsy plot about a lethal computer chip implanted in Creed's brain gets padded out with a weirdly detailed pasta recipe and an impassioned defense of airport baggage handlers.❞When, as readers, as purchasers of novels, did we start asking for dreck like this to be a proper representation of skill in an industry where almost anything goes nowadays? (After all, Hocking and Locke are at the top of the unrepresented self-published game.) When did we become complacent about shelling out those $3 or less for these e-books? We have a voice, and those of us who enjoy quality literature should use our voices by not throwing away our dollars on junk, because that's about all that some of this "literature" is -- junk. I don't know about you, but I'd rather keep visiting the local library where all my choices are free and I can usually see what I'm getting into.
In the case of Amanda Hocking, as a writer, I would have been excited to hear how oftentimes belittled self-publishing landed her a fantastic deal with St. Martin's (because I truly believe there are some great self-published works out there), but when I continued reading the article I felt disgust more than anything else. I often hear people say, "Why, I should write a book. I'd make soooo much money." I just shake my head. But then a story like this crops up and I think, "Yeah, you should write that book, Mr. I-have-no-idea-how-to-even-do-it. How much worse could your writing possibly be?" After all, if Hocking and Snooki can pull it off, then anybody can pull it off. Right?
In my opinion, anyone who wants to self-publish needs to do the same amount of legwork that one would do if he/she was going the traditional route. Have a critique group and beta readers, know your genre, get all the feedback that's necessary in order to have a finely crafted creation. If you want to be taken seriously, then treat your writing seriously. Then, it would be worth the few extra bucks people would be willing to pay to read something memorable.
What about for you? Are you wasting your dollars on a high caloric diet of literary junk? Do you feel there is an influx of badly crafted work hitting the self-publishing world? Should there be a better way of regulating it now that the so-called gatekeepers (agents) of the industry no longer work as filters? Feel free to point out any grammatical errors in this article!
* The article, "The Hottest Self-Published Books," can be found in the July 29, 2011 issue, #1165.
✿ Also, for an upcoming article I'm looking for anyone who has done work as a ghostwriter. Feel free to e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org!