Saturday, December 10, 2011

Should You Sell Your Soul to Sell a Book?

The explosion in the publishing industry brought about by the advent of e-readers such as Kindle and Nook,  and the sudden proliferance and popularity of the e-book has had a profound effect on writers and authors. More writers are becoming published authors; it's easier to do so now. It's also easier for people to become publishers, without having the outlay needed to run a print operation. This is a good thing, right?

Not necessarily.

Some of these new publishers are publishing whatever they can get their hands on that they think will sell. And that's the problem. Publication does not equate to quality. Quite frankly, there are a lot of books selling that shouldn't be. But they are. Some are flat out worse than others; others are adequate. These bad books and adequate books would never have found a home in the days of print. But now they have, because of the ease of electronic publishing.

Bad authors are making decent livings for writing purple prose that would have gotten them failing grades had they ever dared to turn them in to their composition teachers back in high school. Assuming they weren't automatically flunked for the use of excessive foul language. And a whole lot of fucking going on.

And the plots!  Pardon me, I mean plots - what plots?  Many of them are a sequence of sexual encounters strung together under the guise of romance. And don't even get me started on the sudden proliferation of menages and worse. I know I've said it before, but when you have one woman and six guys - that's just a whole lot of sluttiness going on. NOT ROMANCE.

And yet it apparently sells.

So, what's a writer to do? Do you sacrifice quality? Sell your soul for what appears to be the sure thing? Lower yourself to that level, go there, do that, and hope to reap the rewards? Or do  you stand firm, maintain your integrity and your quality, and write better prose, hope that it will sell?

Difficult decision.

Is it the fault of the writer or the reader? Have reading standards fallen so greatly? At one time, the general populace read and enjoyed Shakespeare. What have we come to now, when most people sneer at the idea of reading classic literature, and those who do are pegged as eggheads, nerds and geeks? Part of that problem I lay at the feet of teachers who have no idea how to teach the classics; the same reason a lot of people hate history - inadequate teaching. But I'll save that rant for another day.

Yes, apparently  Jackie Collins sells. Would I want to be her? Hell no. That isn't quality writing, it's trash. Even  if trash sells, I don't want my name on it. Of course, a lot of the writers who are selling don't have their names on their books. Maybe that makes it easier for them to fire off this third class swill and sell it. Nobody knows who they really are and they can laugh about it all the way to the bank.

The big thing now is series. Get the reader hooked, make him/her think you can write, and then milk them as long as you can. I have nothing against series, mind you. I find them a great way to delve into your characters at length. Some stories require it, others don't. But when they become formulaic and predictable - give it up. Also, a lot of these series aren't actually books, they're novellas. I'm afraid we're conditioning the reader to want less and to want it more often. New book, new royalties. Endless cycle.

So the question remains - do you sell your soul, sacrifice who you are and what is quality in your writing, for the sake of a fast buck? Or do you stand firm, bypass the publishers who are happy with the cheap and the tawdry and hold out for the brass ring - the pie in the sky -  the better publishers, those who will guide you into the upper stratosphere, beyond mediocre and the blatantly best-selling bad?

It's a personal choice, but I intend to hold out for the bigger and better, to maintain the quality in my writing. Hopefully my readers will understand and will be willing to patiently make this journey with me no matter how long it takes. I'm gonna reach for that brass ring and make it mine! I'm gonna claim my pie in the sky!

Any comments? Any thoughts? I'd love to hear them!

Until next time, take care!

♥ Julie


  1. Julie- Nice post and while I am not a writer I do see your point. Some plots awful and the multiple partners like your example one female to six males. While I don't think she is a slut, I don't feel the connection with having so many partners. But I do enjoy my series for the chance to know particular character better with little glimpses of previous characters. But when it comes to quality I will wait for my author to publish their book. Now, I did not say I would be waiting patiently :)