Or am I too out of touch?
Time and time again I lash out at the clichés and platitudes offered by professionals in the publishing industry. Sometimes I’m amazed at the stable of authors certain reputable agents manage because there seems to be such disparity in quality between the best and the . . . not-so-best.
Not so often I read certain novels and truly wonder why and how they made it into print. Please understand this is not a statement borne out of a critical spirit. Honest. I don’t begrudge any author who jumps through all the hoops and works hard enough to be published. More power—and reprintings—to them!
What puzzles me the most is when I do encounter one of these novels which I consider to be inferior winning lavish praises from other readers. And I’m not talkin’ about novels outside of my preference zone. I’m talkin’ about novels which appear amateurish in use of dialogue and characterization.
So this conundrum furthers my opinion that the average reader of either CBA or ABA fiction could care less about the things we writers work so hard to perfect. If there’s something within a story for the individual reader to latch onto and identify with, they’ll like the book. If it happens to be a glorified short story and they prefer novellas, they’ll like the book. If it’s a saga, and they love long novels with all kinds of characters and side stories, they’ll like the book. Written well or written poorly, if the ingredients are there for them, they’ll have a new favorite book and author. No wonder the publishing industry is a crap shoot. And no wonder editors with literary skills and tastes insist that “literary novels” don’t sell.
Of course there are always exceptions—to nearly every rule or opinion. But just when you think there is a huge response to a “well-written” book, another not-so-well-written book with far-out God concepts like The Shack plunges the entire industry into confusion and chaos. Who knew?
The problem with reading a lot of novels is that few become exceptional. They fall into four-star categories: great, good, average, and poor. The thing is, this is based on opinions, and the opinions of writers will differ significantly from the opinions of the average reader, and it’s very possible that either of these opinions will differ again from the publisher’s opinion.
Since a writer/author struggles to get his words right, labors over plot, character, theme, dialogue, pace, and everything else to do with his story, all in an effort to create to the best of his ability and to catch the eye of an admiring editor/pub board, we who do this tend to be the harshest critics of our fellow writers/authors. We don’t like it when we see others’ errors staring at us from the published page as we wallow in writing obscurity.
So, anyway, I wonder sometimes if I’m too hard to please as a reader now that I’ve written several novels. The Lord knows my writing won’t appeal to all readers and that other writers' scornful eyes wait to dissect my words and ways and figuratively spit on them. I try to be careful for precisely that reason in how I take apart a book I don’t like. Because I trust the author worked hard and attempted to do all they could to make it right, to make it good.
So, then I wonder if I’m out of touch with the publishing reality. It’s unpredictable and it’s based on personal opinions, preferences, and possibilities. Sometimes I think the industry is out of touch with the readers. Most of the time I just don’t know.
Father, I can trust that you know all things, and that you have reasons for what happens in this life. Leaving it in your hands is the best thing I can do, and I’m grateful for that. In the Name of Jesus, Amen.