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Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Exploding the Truths of the Publishing World

Agents make fun of it in their blogs or throw their hands up, frustrated by the book’s popularity.

So what the hell is up with Fifty Shades of Grey?

I mean *pounding fist on computer table* WTH IS UP WITH THIS PHENOM?

Rant is over now. Everyone who scooted back from their computer monitor in horror can come back now.

One agent acknowledged the book’s success but lamented its atrocious writing. 
“As agents and editors, we rail against poor writing and ditzy plots. We turn away any book that doesn’t meet our standards. And then a book like this comes along and every truth we’ve beaten into our clients is shattered.”
So, as writers do we follow the advice of agents and editors or wallow in the marketing trend? Mounting sales of so-called horribly written books roil the waters into froth.

I am not giving a critique of this book since I’ve only read sample chapters of Fifty Shades. But I didn’t find it as engrossing as some of its readers have claimed. Maybe it gets better but I’m not willing to shell out ten bucks to find out. Some have placed this book in the same category as Twilight but I don’t see it like that. 

Confused by its popularity? Join the crowd, people.   

Hollywood is talking movie already with Ian Somerhalder starring as Christian Grey.

Okay, time out.


Maybe this shows some promise after all.

Have you read the book? Please, tell me why you liked/hated it. 


Em-Musing said...

I bought it at an airport out of curiosity. It's not a page turner, and there's no depth to either the writing or the plot...but curiously, I'm still reading it. I guess great hype is as important as great writing.

Huntress said...

Curiosity would drive me to buy it but yikes. 10 bucks on Amazon? I'll sit on my need-to-know and tell it to settle down.

L. Blankenship said...

I don't know -- people like to rant about all the crap being published, and seem to forget that publishing is a business. It's about selling things, first, last, and always.

Not about great art. If great art sells, then hey we'll publish great art.

If crap sells, then they'll publish crap. If people can't wrap their heads around WHY crap sells, that means absolutely nothing. It sells. Publish it.

Publishing exists to make money for its investors. Period.

I'm not saying that's bad or good or evil or fluffy kittens. It's just the truth.

Huntress said...

A fluffy kitten mauled the hell out of my hand one time. I say they are all evil.

The times, they are a changin' - Bob Dylan

Brent Wescott said...

It's really all about sex. If this book weren't chock full of sex, it would never be what it is.

That's me being slightly facetious. The real bummer about it is that the popularity of this flies in the face of the hope of unpublished writers that good writing will out. We believe that if we write good stuff, people will want it. Instead, if we write salacious stuff, people will want it.

KarenG said...

It's funny how a book comes along every so often and "explodes the truth of the publishing world" as you state. Such an interesting industry with no real hard and fast rules because as soon as the rules are laid down a book storms through them to sell millions and everyone hurries to make new rules.

Huntress said...

The target keeps moving. Or maybe the sign posts.

Huntress said...

'...the popularity...flies in the face of hope...'

Ain't that the truth. This business can drive a writer to drink. Or at least to chocolate.

Mel Chesley said...

I have yet to read it and I'm really afraid to go there. I read Twilight because of my daughter at the time. She was a 'tween and into the books because her friends were and I, being the mom I am, wanted to make sure they were 'okay'. Doesn't mean I liked the books. I've already heard how they're throwing Fifty Shades into the same category as Twilight, so if I were to read it, it would only be to see what the heck the hype is all about. If I were to review it... I may have haters. I'm not really gearing towards reading this. I don't want to waste the time, but I am the type of person that would rather form my own opinion rather than that of the masses. But I don't exactly like the fact that books like this (meaning poorly written as some have stated) make it to the top. It does explode the truth of the publishing world. It does make it seem like you don't need to know what you're doing to get published. There are lots of poorly written books out there that could have made it like this, but they haven't. Why? Why this one? Why Twilight? Who's next? Do I keep writing and skip editing to get my work out there and be like these guys or do I continue to uphold my standards and hone my skills? It's frustrating to say the least.

Liz said...

I have a theory why poorly written books make it to bestsellerdom (not to say that this book was poorly written. I haven't read it, so I can't comment as to its merits).

Most people don't critique books as they read. They read for entertainment. They look for a story that speaks to them. They will overlook gross errors if the story speaks to them.

Books that hit bestseller charts speak to a lot of people. If the popular mood is not served by books (or TV shows or movies) of quality, then the people will accept the mediocre that speaks to their mood. (There's a reason there are so many successful procedurals on TV. People like mysteries, and they will watch whatever mysteries are provided for them.)

The trick is to write something of quality and hope that it hits the public at the right time.

Well, it's only a theory...

Escape Artist Linda said...

The way I reckon, everything is cyclical. I suppose it was just time for something like this. Funny thing too... I wrote a romantic story around the same time. TITLE....62 SHADES OF GRAY! No kidding. So funny!

mshatch said...

Haven't read it, don't intend to. There are too many books I know will be good on my tbr list. L made a good - albeit sad - point: sometimes crap sells (just think of some of movies that make a lot of $). And Liz has a good point,too. Because I read Twilight and I was entertained and I never noticed any of the stuff I've heard people complain of.

All I can do is write the stuff I like to read and hope some people want to read it.

Huntress said...

That is freakin' amazing!

Huntress said...

For us, bad writing is a distraction. When I read a new book, it shines like a light. I guess agents are the same way, they see crummy sentences, bad grammar, poor flow and hit the reject button.

Too bad. The average reader doesn't give a fig about echoes or alliteration. They just want a story.

Huntress said...

Now I go back, read a favorite book, see the poor sentence structure, and wish to heavens I'd never known.

It is distracting. I end up critiquing instead of enjoying the story.

Huntress said...

'mommy porn' it's called. I'm no prude but I want a story not sensationalism.

I might have to buy the darn thing to legitimize my review.

Huntress said...

This discussion leaves me confused because I loved Twilight. When critics panned the novel, I always said millions of readers can't be wrong.

So here comes Fifty Shades. Doesn't the same argument apply?

Brent Wescott said...

Perhaps refrain from commenting on the language, poor or otherwise. But you already know the deal. I don't have to read a Nicholas Sparks book to know how saccharine it is. You don't have to read this to know it's porn. I don't think you have to read it at all. (Sorry, I'm just as terrible. I have my own strong opinion for not having read it either.)

Brent Wescott said...

I don't mean to commandeer this discussion with too many comments (especially since I will never read 50 Shades; feel free to call me on that), but I don't see how the two books are similar at all, other than the "forbidden" romance, but you can thank nearly every other romance story for that, right? 50 Shades has no paranormal element in it, even though it began as Twilight fan fiction. Apparently, James turned it into a romance based on hardcore S&M, not vampires or werewolves.

I read the Twilight series, enjoyed it, but understood from the beginning that the writing was a bit facile for my tastes. There's been a lot of backlash against Twilight, probably mostly due to the popularity (which also begs the question of how much of the 50 Shades criticism is merely backlash), but I wouldn't say Twilight is terrible writing. I think it's fine to appreciate one but not the other. You have my blessing, Huntress. ;)

Huntress said...

I can see the problems with sentence structure in Twilight now. But to me, it is the sign of a debut writer. But it had a story to it, unique and captivating.

But Fifty Shades? *shrug* It appears to be one vast bed scene with fillers in between.

Like I said earlier, maybe I should read it *shiver* before expressing an opinion.

Lexa Cain said...

I don't blame the publishers for bad books. They just publish them; it's a business. It's the millions of idiots that buy them and make them into bestsellers that tick me off. The majority rules, and apparently it's the same majority that made shows like Gerry Springer, Jersey Shore and Paris Hilton so popular.

Perhaps the demise of Sex and the City left a vacuum of people who wanted titillation and bought 50 Shades. Maybe the demise of Buffy left the door open for Twilight. (Though Buffy was the antithesis of Bella.)

It's a sad commentary on our society that pop culture trends out-sell art at every turn.

Huntress said...

Actually I don't blame anyone for books that don't appeal to my taste. The market is what it is and there is always someone ready to fill the vacuum.

Write what the public wants. Or write what you personally love to read. And count yourself lucky if it is one and the same.

Lexa Cain said...

(I was sort of replying to L.Blankenship about the publishers.) But I'm sad about the popularity of bestsellers that are unprofessionally written, with plot holes, unbelievable characterizations, and where the main concept is unoriginal and vapid.
I write what I would've liked to read as a teen. I try hard to write well about characters with depth, about interesting concepts, and with page-turning tension. I hope that's enough ... but I'm afraid my writing will never appeal to 'everyone' in a lowest-common-denominator sort of way like certain bestsellers.

Tara Tyler said...

no desire to read. sounds like porn and i want a plot not a b or dd movie with lots of sex scenes. pass!