I’m going to start out by saying this post is probably going to sound a lot like sour grapes. People who read this might think I’m jealous. I am. Bitter. A little bit. Annoyed. Yup.
But it occurs to me I’m getting a small taste of my own medicine and I hope I can learn from this experience.
Lately I’ve been seeing a lot of deals in the publishing industry, big deals, good deals, major deals which constitute half a million dollars and up to authors who have built a fan base by self-publishing. There are at least three deals that I know of that are Fan Fiction work of Twilight. That means three authors who did not create their own characters but simply created a story of their own for Bella and Edward, then changed the names, have been offered half a million dollars for their efforts.
Another major deal recently posted was for a young woman (early twenties) who self-published her book and had a big following. Interested in what garnered so much attention I downloaded the sample. And yep, it’s exactly the type of book I would have written in my teens before I understood the mechanics and craft of writing. Silly word choices, odd first person POV observations. For me the sample was nearly unreadable. Half. A. Million. Dollars.
I’ve spent over twenty years writing books. Working on my craft. Reading books on craft. Going to conferences. Taking classes. I’ve written books only to turn around and put them in a drawer because for most of us that’s where our first efforts belong. And now you wonder… does anyone really care anymore? Publishing is out to make money. I get that. If a poorly written, amateur effort has already sold X amount of copies then the likelihood is traditional publishing can make money on it too. I guess that’s the theory.
But I’m really starting to wonder where all this might lead and what might happen overall to the quality of stories readers will be offered. Then I remembered a friend of mine who is an actor. For many of the same reasons she lamented the upsurge of reality television. She’d taken dictation, studied with famous acting coaches, worked on her craft, on her auditioning skills, and her ability to perform live and on camera. A life spent in pursuit of achieving something beautiful in her chosen artistic profession. Only to spend much of her time waiting tables while people like Snooki and the Situation take up television time and become famous for nothing.
I told her then, hey there is a place for both. Great acting and Bad Reality Television. It’s just the way it’s going to be.
Now those words have come home to roost.
Let’s hope it remains true and there is a place for both… Great writing and Fan Fiction turned into Pop Culture Phenomena.