Thursday, December 06, 2012

Actors and Reality TV...


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.  

7 comments:

Sinead M said...

The fan fiction thing is pretty interesting. Remember a few years back when it was celebrity ghost written books, hell, even Pam Anderson "wrote" a book. Then it moved on, and now it's fan fiction, because that's the connection to the tremendous success of 50 shades.
It's also books with proven sales, so publishing houses take on less risk.
Except when the tide turns, and if Chick lit taught us anything, it will, they will be stuck with really expensive books that no one wants to read because they're not really good and good books ignored because the trend is overexposed and a really good fan fiction can no longer sell.
I felt more secure as a reader when publishers just bought really good books. Then I could trust them, right now I struggle with whom to trust, and so I only buy books reviewed by reputable review sites or recommended by people I know.

Eileen said...

Well said, Steph. Depressing, but well said.

Sarah said...

As a reader, the trend chasing in publishing really bothers me (the fan fiction thing, celeb "novels," the Twilight knockoff thing, the 50 Shades knockoff thing, now the "new adult" thing). I'd rather see interesting and different books on the shelves that bring something unique to the table. And I'm not convinced that trend chasing is a wise long-term business strategy, but shockingly, no one asked me.

Stephanie Doyle said...

Sarah - I just learned what "new adult" meant. I imagine publishing is hoping to catch the Twilight readers as they grow up?

These books all seem romantic centric - but do they end happily ever after?

Maureen McGowan said...

I remember reading a quote from Kate Moss from her recent book launch party. It was, and I am paraphrasing, "I didn't have to write anything."

My take.. at least she was honest. But really, it is kind of insulting (and confusing to consumers/readers) that her name goes on the cover and the copyright as "author". No wonder a lot of people assume anyone can write a book.

Sarah said...

@Stephanie - They usually have an HEA, but not always. There seems to be a subset to them that end with someone dying tragically--overdose, car crash, crocodile attack, etc (I may have made one of those up). I do think the "new adult" thing is an offshoot of the Twilight phenomenon.

Molly O'Keefe said...

To some extent the last five-10 years has felt like traditional publishing at first being in denial of the self-publishing phenom and now, behind the curve, trying to capitalize.

It's IMPOSSIBLE to know why some of this stuff takes off the way it does - because it has almost nothing to do with originality. But something satisfies readers - it really satisfies readers.

My question is do any of these books, when edited and cleaned up and slapped with a 7 dollar price tag - still sell like crazy?

You can say 50 Shades did - and yes it did. But there's now a lot of much better written erotica on the market. So, how much of the success of these books is price point and the expectations associated with it?

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...