By Bryon Quertermous
So somehow I got conned into covering two Sundays for Joelle while she covers for Dave while he's off getting married. But the real joke will be on Dave when he realizes what he's gotten himself into with this whole marriage thing. I kid, I kid, but two weeks in a row gives me a chance to tackle something I'd been meaning to talk about but couldn't really contain to one blog post.
Now this is sort of about e-books, which I know is a subject that has been discussed way past death and bores even me, but it's not so much about the publishing side of e-books, rather the what all of this has to do with the experience of reading. Part one today we'll talk about some things I've discovered while trolling the Kindle boards and places like GoodReads and review blogs and such. Then, next week, I'll give you my pet peeves about new additions to the reading experience.
Now, I'm fascinated by all of this e-book stuff and can't help but follow all of the news and predictions and broad pronouncements, but the one thing I've noticed most in all of this is that readers are having a greater influence in publishing more than ever before. And, as with most changes, there are good and bad aspects to this.
The Good: Readers, and I say this as a reader myself, don't care about the minutia of publishing. The sorts of things we as authors and editors and publishers and publicity gurus debate passionately like genre and tense and style and such just don't register to the average reader. The want to be entertained. They don't care how you do just as long as you do it. And I realize this is true of myself. I read widely across genres and have enjoyed books that involved things as varied as second person narration and even animal narrators. So yeah, that's cool and puts to rest a lot of the bunk we hear about "rules" and which genres are hot or dying or whatever.
The Bad: Readers, and this one doesn't include me, don't care. Other than improper use of grammar, mistakes regarding guns, and swearing, nothing seems to bother the legion of readers snapping up these Kindle books for $.99 with awful writing, poorly developed characters, and stories that just generally drip crap out of every electronic orifice.
And I'm not talking Dan Brown or James Patterson type bad. Those guys are All Stars compared to these amateurs. But it doesn't seem to bother readers. Sure, they'll comment on it in an Amazon review or whatever, but then mention that they still loved the story and will buy the next book by the author.
But my biggest insult comes from the fact that they don't seem to distinguish AT ALL the difference between an author who has slaved and sacrificed and put in the hard work to make their book the best they can be then run the gauntlet of gatekeepers, rules, traditions, whims, luck, and corporate landmines that hold together the publishing industry or the author who gave up on the traditional route and slapped up a rough draft with some zippy copy and a garish self-designed cover with some blurbs from their mom and their old aunts writing group. It's hard some days when the writing isn't coming or the rejections are coming too fast and I want to give up. But I've known all along that I don't just want to be published, I want to be published right. Call me elitist, call me traditional or stuffy or whatever, but that's what I signed on for and that's what I'm working toward.
But this isn't all about me. How about you? What do you care about in fiction? Why do you think it is that the bulk of readers (in actuality it's the bulk of society about everything) just don't seem to care about quality? And why do I find it so bloody necessary to use "just" so many damn times in one blog post?