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Wednesday, 24 August 2011

Publishing Houses and Celebrity Culture

Publishing Houses and Celebrity Culture

Celebrity Culture is all around us and the sad thing is, it means real writers aren't getting a look in with publishing houses these days. More and more, we are hearing of very good books being rejected as the writer is not well known in favour of something that is often sub standard just because the name on the front cover is one people will recognise. I have a classic example in my home at the moment that I am struggling to read.

Patricia Cornwell is one of my favourite authors and I have read all of her books without exception. Her latest offering is one I am struggling to read and have now been at it for nearly two months. Two months! I usually read a book in a maximum of a week and yet this is one I am struggling with badly. I keep forgetting what the storyline is as there is so much text book talk teaching us about different acronym's, scientific things that are of no real interest to me, over lengthy descriptions of rooms, people, objects and such like that it is well over the top. Yes, she's done her research, but did I want a Master's degree at the end of the book for all I had learned? No, I wanted some light relief and something to read in bed at night to help me relax.
Port Mortuary
Not only is it over the top with pages and pages of description before we get back to the storyline, but there are sentences cut in half and the writing is pretty awful in quite a few places. I even wondered if she has actually written it herself as it is not at all like her to write this badly. What annoys me though, is that the publisher has allowed this to go to print just because it is written by a well known author. Did an editor actually read it all I wonder or did they just accept it as read because she is who she is? I have given a review of only two stars on this book and may well go and replace it with one. Most others I saw have given a similar rating and her publisher has done her no favours by allowing this book to be published in my opinion.

Why? Because based on her last book and this one, I am unlikely to buy another of her books in the future. Nor am I likely to recommend her books now to others. In fact, I have actually told many more people this one is dreadful and not to bother - others have done the same judging by the reviews. So why are these publishing houses doing this when there is so much out there that is good? Yes, there is a lot of rubbish, but can they honestly justify putting a book like that out there against one that will get good reviews and have the readers looking for more by the same author even though it is their first book? No they can't is my honest opinion and it is time publishing houses gave readers the respect they deserve.
I am not into celebrity culture, never have been and never will be. I know OK and Hello magazines, to name a couple, are very popular and sadly, some of the occupants of these pages have books with their names on the front cover which are quite frankly horrendous in some cases and yet they have received millions in advances even though most never wrote their books themselves. That together with the well-known real authors like Patricia Cornwell who have books such as her latest offering published just because of who they are is making the literary world a very sad place that is fast losing the respect of real readers.

We all have to make money and tighten our belts these days and whatever we do has to be assured of making a return, but shouldn't the whole picture be looked at when making a judgement? A book might sell well because of previous good reputation or because a name is known, but when the reader finds it is unreadable how likely are they to go and buy the next one? How many people are they going to tell how bad it was thereby putting others off buying this one and future books too? I always look at who the publishing house is in the front cover and if I see too many like this by the same publisher, I for one would avoid buying anything they publish in the future as I'll know their editor's aren't very particular and take the lazy way out by just always accepting well known people rather than doing their job and looking for the best there is out there. I am not alone in this and know many others are now doing the same.

I adore books where I can turn pages and don't ever want to see them disappear. I love to see a library and all the books lined up on the shelves. I like having bookcases at home and yet if the literary world continues on the path it's on, we will see nothing but self-published electronic books with libraries disappearing and even less people being encouraged to read books than there are now. You have a duty to the world and you are not fulfilling your obligations to us all. If you are too scared to seek out and take chances on new and decent authors as your predecessors did, you will be responsible for the death of a culture that you are already throwing into decline through your laziness.

Come on publishing houses, I know some really good writers out there and it's time some of them were given a chance over some of the rubbish you're throwing out at us these days. It is said publishing houses that have rejected some writers are chasing them once they see how well their books are selling on Amazon Kindle. Well I'm sorry, if those books were not good enough to be accepted then, why should they give you their royalties now you see they're selling? Maybe it's time the publishing world took a good look at itself and what rubbish they're turning many of our bookshelves into. In the meantime, I am still only halfway through Patricia Cornwell's book and have serious doubts as to whether I'll be able to finish it. Will hers be the first book I've never been able to finish?

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