I read Maureen’s post yesterday and thought about how true it was. Publishing, like music in some aspects, is being watered down because of the number of avenues people can now publish their work.
Actually “watered down” has a negative connotation so I should clarify. Some might say publishing has been enriched by having more people with more voices contribute where before it was limited. Trends are broken, new avenues explored. Maybe Urban/Paranormal/Steampunk Romance only exists because of these other avenues and that’s a good thing.
However, others would argue it’s making it even harder for the real talent to shine through. I’m on the fence. I see both the positive and the negative.
The negative was reinforced when I read a book for a contest. I’m probably going to get a lot of reaction here because it happened to be an eBook - but it was not fit for publication. Now let me be VERY clear. I know great writers who publish through non-traditional channels. And I know crappy writers who publish through traditional channels. I’m just saying - in this instance – the book was not and should not have been published in ANY format. At least not in a format that was intended to sell to other individuals to read. You want to bind it and give it out to your family and friends – knock yourself out. But to sell it…. that just doesn’t hurt me the reader, it hurts the industry as a whole.
Now some might argue that’s my taste. And yes it is. But darn it I’ve been a reader for a lot longer than I’ve been a writer and I can tell you what I read was not fit for publication. This book is part of a problem that we really need to look at. I’m not blaming the author. This was a junior attempt at writing a story and maybe after some time, practice, study and hardwork he/she will eventually become a bestselling author. He/she thought it was good enough to be nominated for something. Just like contestants who try out for Idol often do so because they think they will be a star. It’s up to the judges to say… Not so much.
So who are our judges? The publishers? I’m all for opening up new venues, allowing for different tastes and trends. And for publishers to find new ways to make money. Fantastic. But I think if we’re going to go this route we do have to have some expectation that what will be produced will be of a certain quality. That someone (the publishers, the editors, reader review sites…) will judge the work and hold it to a standard. Because if as a reader I have to purchase so many of the books like the one I read to get to a good one, I’ll eventually stop buying. My trust in what a “published” book is will diminish.
So eBook, traditional book, whatever… please let someone be that harsh judge. We need our Simon.
I finally read Hunger Games. This is an amazing book. This is something I think universally we can read and say… Wow. And to think that the book I judged and Hunger Games exist in the same “publishing” arena… well frankly it hurts me.