How do terrible books get published?

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sierramcconnell
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Re: How do terrible books get published?

Post by sierramcconnell » December 2nd, 2010, 6:00 pm

Forgive me, I'm at work, I skimmed. I might have missed the mention but it only takes a handful of people to get a book published from what I understand, right? The agent. The editors. The company that backs it.

And from there, once you have them snagged, you have this occur, and you only need this to occur but a few times in your writing career:

1) The click.

All it takes is a group of shiny popular awesome people to read your book. They like it, everyone likes it. Because if someone doesn't like it, then they are not cool. So everyone likes it. Even if everyone doesn't like it, they like it. They buy it. They LOVE IT.

2) The WTFers.

They just want to know WTF is so awesome about that book. So they read it to figure it out. Sometimes more than once because surely they missed something. No. They didn't. It's still just as retarded as ever. But they love to buy books so there you go. It's there. Rotting on the shelf, a mark of their WTFery collection.

3) The Coffee Tablers.

Because although they may be late to the party, fashionably late is still in. Of course, they haven't really read it, they can still talk about...oh, what's that character's name...? because they bought the book and can flip to the back cover. It's sitting on their coffee table as a conversation piece. Next week, when it's not the in thing, it will be in the John, a sad reminder that they need to keep constantly up on the happening scene of what's new.

And that is what makes a NEW YORK TIMES BEST SELLING BOOK or a OMG THIS IS AWESOME YOU MUST READ IT.

The really good books, the ones that take brains to get through, well, I think we don't see them. They are closet quiet, slient wonders.

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Re: How do terrible books get published?

Post by J. T. SHEA » December 2nd, 2010, 10:53 pm

Inspired by Cheekychook's comments about food and Chic-Lit, I hereby invent a new genre. Chiclet! In which all the characters chew gum. For 500 pages. And drop it on the pavement.

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Re: How do terrible books get published?

Post by Mira » December 2nd, 2010, 10:57 pm

J. T. SHEA wrote:Inspired by Cheekychook's comments about food and Chic-Lit, I hereby invent a new genre. Chiclet! In which all the characters chew gum. For 500 pages. And drop it on the pavement.
Ha! That was funny, J.T. I laughed.

So, I can't keep up with the threads now, but I wanted to thank you CheekyChook, for your explanation about what happened to Chick Lit. Sounds sort of crazy. Someone should write a book!

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Re: How do terrible books get published?

Post by Jaligard » December 3rd, 2010, 2:34 pm

I've noticed that I'm sensitive to a lot of things we're told *not* to do. Switching point of view? Not a good idea without a section break. The thing is, though, you can switch point of view if you do it well. Other issues (telling instead of showing, lots of adverbs, gimmicky narratives) are things that some writers can get away with. If you can't pull it off, it reads badly; so it goes on the list of writing no-nos.

Once you start writing and editing, though, you will never truly read the same way. Especially if you work with a critique group, where you're always looking for problems.

I think we just have to accept this. And when we read a published novel, we should be looking for what works in it, not what we don't like.

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Re: How do terrible books get published?

Post by sierramcconnell » December 3rd, 2010, 2:49 pm

Jaligard wrote:And when we read a published novel, we should be looking for what works in it, not what we don't like.
I have to disagree. When we're reading, we're reading for fun. And we have to go by what we like. And if I don't happen to like a flighty, overly emo teenager who was just two chapters ago explaining how she was so unemotional she and her kind couldn't remember how to smile, then I'm sorry, bad book.

And, to pull from another post we've had recently, she was far exceeding word count for her genre. She was at almost 500 pages in YA Fantasy Romance. That's a tough pill to swallow for flat characters, bad characterization, and horrible research. Blech.
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Re: How do terrible books get published?

Post by BetweenTwoWorlds » December 4th, 2010, 8:04 pm

Somebody keeps buying that stuff, and that's how it keeps getting churned out.

I mean, you ended up buying, right? So people buy it based on word-of-mouth or author's name or cover. And maybe the majority of people who buy it think, "Well, maybe she just had an off day when she published this." Or something.

I've made the decision to never buy a book at the airport, because the times that I have have always been disappointments. I kept one of the books for a long time because it was, in my opinion, the worst book possible. I mean, seriously. Worst. Book. Possible.
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Re: How do terrible books get published?

Post by Jaya » December 5th, 2010, 10:10 pm

I don't think there's such a thing as a real bad published book. Every book is just so unique.
I like literary classics. I appreciate the LOTR trilogy. But I also devoured Nancy Drew and Goosebumps as a kid ("classic" to me). It's the same with the Twilight phenomena. So many people ridicule this book. But I don't think she was trying to spin something akin to Hemmingway or Tolkein. She wrote a book. A story. Sure, its not great literature, but it wasn't meant to be, right?

I don't ponder how terrible books get published...but I DO ponder whether people get published due to their "connections" and fame (i.e. Lauren Conrad, Hillary Duff, etc). I'm not saying their "terrible" writers. I'm just wondering whether they would have been published at all or as easily if they had no attachments or contacts to their name...

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Re: How do terrible books get published?

Post by Margo » December 5th, 2010, 10:25 pm

Jaya wrote:...but I DO ponder whether people get published due to their "connections" and fame (i.e. Lauren Conrad, Hillary Duff, etc). I'm not saying their "terrible" writers. I'm just wondering whether they would have been published at all or as easily if they had no attachments or contacts to their name...
Yeah, this came up when Snooki got her book deal. One line of thinking was that at least ghostwriters had a job waiting for them. Still, sometimes it's a little confusing, especially when the houses give a book deal to someone you are pretty sure has never been in a library or bookstore or 'read' anything more complex than a fashion magazine. It encourages the public misconception that anyone can go from never reading a book to turning out a bestselling novel in 6 or 8 weeks. As the fab video on Nathan's most recent blog post points out!
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Re: How do terrible books get published?

Post by BetweenTwoWorlds » December 5th, 2010, 11:42 pm

Oh believe me. This was a terrible book.

I was jealous, of course, because it got printed and sold. But still, a terrible book.
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Re: How do terrible books get published?

Post by Sommer Leigh » December 6th, 2010, 8:53 am

I think it is important to keep in mind that everyone's tastes vary wildly and widely. Last summer I went to a conference and attended a panel on Urban Fantasy. It was an ok discussion until the writers started complaining about how a terrible series of books like Twilight could get published when amazing writers with more talent can't. I am no fan of Twilight, but there I was, the lone voice in the room, pointing out that there are millions of people who disagree on Twilight being terrible and those millions of people are putting a lot of money in publisher's pockets. More money, I was willing to bet, than all of the writers on that panel combined had brought in for their publishers. Someone recognized the potential this series could bring into the industry and that gamble paid off and feeling superior to Stephanie Meyer would never change that fact.

I apologized if I offended them, but I asked them to also consider the audience they were bashing because they could potentially find their way to these authors' Urban Fantasy books through their discovered love of Twilight. There are four mothers in my office alone who, after reading Twilight at their daughter's urging, I was able to get them to read Cassandra Clare, Maggie Stiefvater, Scott Westerfeld, and Jim Butcher. I don't think those authors would mind that these new readers found them through Twilight.

Another example: Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta. This book has become my favorite book to read. I've read it maybe ten times. I love it. Lots of people love it. It has won many awards. But it has a funny narrative style and readers either seem to "get it" right away, or they never do. I've read many reviews by book bloggers I repsect that, despite winning the Michael L. Printz award, has ripped apart this book as one of the worst written books ever. I disagree. So who is correct?

If a book finds its audience and the audience loves it for whatever reason, that's all that matters. I think it can suck sometimes to think you could have done a better job, but I think the only way to answer that is to write a better book. If you think you can do a better job, then do a better job.
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Re: How do terrible books get published?

Post by Cookie » December 6th, 2010, 9:34 am

Sommer, I completely agree with you on pretty much everything you said. You can either love or hate a book for varying reasons, but just because you hate the book, does not necessarily mean that the books sucks. Sure it may be poorly written. Sure the characters suck. Sure the plot may be weak. Sure the book may have all of the above, but there is a redeeming quality about the book that made it popular in the first place. You may not see it, but it is there. I think people sometimes focus too much on the negatives, then they fail to see any positives the book may have. For instance, mass appeal to teenage girls, which has always been a very lucrative market. Just ask any boy band :).
People's taste in books are kinda like commas. Some people love, LOVE to use commas all. The. Time. While others disdain the sight of them. It's all a matter of personal preference.

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Re: How do terrible books get published?

Post by sierramcconnell » December 6th, 2010, 10:27 am

You know, I'm finding myself doing something I had to do with other books that I had thrown into a terrible pile, with a book that I was told was one of the "bestest books ever OMG". It's by an author that I really like because he's an amazing person, supports NaNo, and wrote a great pep talk that keeps me going through the tough parts in my novels.

I was told this book was one of his best. I was always afraid to read his work because I was afraid I would find a reason to not like him, because this happens with all the other authors I tend to like.

I am doing that old "give it the first five chapters before discrediting it" thing, because American Gods by Neil Gaiman is so fecking slow paced. My God, this is just so thick with nonsense and dry that I could probably pour honey on it and it would soak it up and still be perfect for paper toweling.

I hate to say that because I like the guy as a speaker and as a person he sounds really cool. Everyone talked the book up awesomely and quoted some amazing things.

But if this doesn't pick up soon, I'm going to fling it just so there's some sort of action going on.

The point being, I see this as a terrible book. But look how many don't.
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Re: How do terrible books get published?

Post by Margo » December 6th, 2010, 10:39 am

sierramcconnell wrote:The point being, I see this as a terrible book. But look how many don't.
Yep, count me in for greatest book ever on American Gods.

Any of us with the luck/skill to get published will certainly find that someone thinks our book is the best book ever and someone will think it was a crime to kill a tree to print something so awful.
Last edited by Margo on December 6th, 2010, 11:31 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: How do terrible books get published?

Post by Cookie » December 6th, 2010, 10:41 am

sierramcconnell wrote:The point being, I see this as a terrible book. But look how many don't.
I have this book on hold from my library. I haven't read it either, but since so many people are recommending it, I thought I would give it a try. We'll see if we agree or disagree. Oh, and about that book we were discussing earlier; 500 pages? Really? That is kinda long for a YA. I'm still gonna take a crack at it though, just to see what you mean.
I know what you mean though about books going slow. I read a book by Norman Mailer at the beginning of the year, and it took me FOREVER to get through. It was basically 800 pages of description.

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Re: How do terrible books get published?

Post by sierramcconnell » December 6th, 2010, 10:42 am

Margo wrote:Yep, count me in for greatest book ever on American Gods.
Then maybe you can tell me when it picks up? XD
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