And While We’re on the Subject …

… of published authors and the double-standard presented to the new or aspiring author, here’s a piece from Daily Writing Tips that pretty much sums it up.

Read the entire piece here.

In particular, I found this telling, and echoes of what Sherri and AnnieGirl1138 said in their comments on my previous post:

Mysteries can open in various ways. Established authors like Elizabeth George and Sara Paretsky can afford to begin with descriptions of weather and the thoughts of their characters because their readers are confident they are entering a fictional world that has entertained them in the past.

First-time authors have to work harder at drawing the reader in with the first paragraph.

So, as much as it peeves me, and chaps my hide, there it is.  New authors get a different standard to which they must rise than established authors.  Because established authors have “entertained” readers in the past.

My question, however, still stands: Why do they get a pass just because they’ve “entertained” readers in the past?  By doing this, the industry ensures that the “established authors” continue crowding the shelves regardless of quality and new authors, who are working harder and striving for better prose and stories, are shoved off the stage.

That’s almost criminal … but that’s just my opinion.

What do you think?  Is this something you’re okay with as a writer, if you are one?  Or is this injustice (and I’m sorry, it is an injustice) intolerable?  (Not that we can do anything about it.)  How ‘bout you readers?  Do you like finding out you’re being fed garbage that doesn’t meet the rookie expectations simply on the strength of a previous success?  Or would you rather see new, good work on the shelves of your local bookseller?

Sound off, y’all.  I’d like to know.

God bless.

All original content copyright DarcKnyt, 2008
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7 thoughts on “And While We’re on the Subject …

  1. Established authors get a pass because more people are likely to buy successive works by the same author. The publishing giants exist only to make money.

    I personally am always game for reading a new author, but I also know what I want, and if one author has provided it before, I’ll keep going back. I don’t have to guess.

    Plus it means that when I get published, I can start churning our tripe and get paid for it.

    ROFL! Okay, so there’s an upside. 😀 Thanks for the silver lining, Bryce. 🙂

  2. Ha! Me, too, Bryce.

    I don’t think it’s an injustice. Here’s how I see it. A lady goes to law school. At the end, she works her ass off to pass the bar exam, to get every answer right. Once she’s passed, she’s a lawyer. She might lose a case here and there, some losses are her fault, some are not. But she still gets clients despite the losses, because she’s overall doing a good job. She’s proven her proficiency by passing the bar exam.

    Okay, let me pose this scenario in a different way, and one that I think is a better analogy based on what you’re proposing (’cause what you’re proposing is a good point). She goes to school, works her ass off to pass the bar, and once she does, she doesn’t do ANYTHING she’s supposed to in practicing law. She doesn’t keep up with current trends in law. Isn’t following cases and precedents. When she shows up at a trial, she’s there because her NAME is listed in the bar, and she’s in the phone book, but she does ZERO research on her case, doesn’t find related precedents and doesn’t do much except expect her good name in the bar to get her clients off. She’s doing sub-par lawyering, in other words. Still seem okay? And to make it worse, it’s not just HER decisions to do those things — the judges and juries are TELLING her it’s okay to do those things and LETTING her do those things. See the problem?

    We have to take our exam. The people making up the questions are not other writers, or even the publishers, but the people buying the books. It’s them we have to please. The established writers have already passed the test.

    See, this is a problem, and I think you’re wrong on this. The READERS have to choose from what the PUBLISHERS put out there. Have you ever seen a self-published book at Borders, Barnes and Noble, the now-defunct Walden Books, or any OTHER book store? Not likely. The sellers want that “money back guarantee” to return those books. And they want to stock authors they KNOW will move. They want to make money too. So the publisher doesn’t risk as much on new writers regardless of ability, and only measures ability as they’re given it by … whom? Lit agents. THEY establish the first layer of screening. And then when you’ve kissed enough booty and sucked enough … well, you get it — and have an agent, and THEY tell you what THEY think perfection is, you’ll go through it again when (if?) the EDITOR gets in their grubby little paws. And then the copyeditors get hold of it and there’s more. And then, ONLY then, does it see print. And so you, me and Bryce see things that are only able to be filtered, arbitrarily and capriciously, through AAAAAAAAALL those filters. We, the readers, aren’t making up the exams, hon. We’re the ones buying the books when the exams are passed. And I don’t even get to view the ones that don’t for whatever reason. (Some of those are true failures. Some not.)

    And let me also say that a lot (a LOT) of people who publish a first book never publish a second. I’m sure that fits in somewhere in our discussion, though my eyes are tired and I must stop typing now. 🙂

    You know, you’re right. That’s a good point too. Remember Harper Lee? Yeah, a one-trick pony. A good trick, but just one. 🙂

    Feel better, hon! Thanks for your thoughts again!

  3. A lot of what Bryce and Sherri are saying is true BUT it can flood the market with crap! I’ve quit reading authors because they’ve ‘changed’ their style even when it’s in the middle of a series.

    Or maybe they’re just not being pushed to do good work anymore by those who set the initial standards?

    I read to be entertained. The worse it’s written the more likely I am to put it down.

    That’s true for all of us I think; it’s just a subjective measure. 😉

    It’s like football players that make big money on contracts after working hard and just phone in their play for the rest of their careers.

    Shawn Alexander, anyone? 😀

    Do publishers think we don’t see it? It’s like when a ghost author takes over. Oh I can see the difference!

    Every author’s unique; it’s hard to match voices with someone. I’ve seen a few do it, but not many. 🙂

  4. I guess I’m just not seeing all the crap you guys are seeing. Most times, when I read something I don’t like I chalk it up to style differences. There WAS this one book (Death of a Dark Lord) which I would classify as crap, because it had SO MANY glaring problems.

    LOL! Maybe we’re either less gracious or more ignorant? 😀 😉

    I will say I’ve had a lot of trouble lately finding fantasy books I like. And I’ll concede that it sucks when authors I consider true hacks are hacking it to the tune of millions of dollars. Yes, I must concede that, and at the same time hope I can find such a broad audience one day.

    Okay, AMEN to that. ROFLMAO!! AMEN TO THAT!! 😀

  5. Doesn’t matter the industry, there are hoops to be jumped. I don’t think being forced to write well as price of admission is too much of an imposition and if I am fortunate enough to make it in, I hope to be someone who doesn’t get too big headed to work with my editor. A good beta reader or two and a wonderful editor are key. The difference between hacks and writers in the show.

    Yeah, dues to be paid in every industry, true enough. No one’s arguing that. And I’m not arguing the need to have standards set for publication-worthy material. I’m saying that standard shouldn’t be dropped just because someone sold something.

    But a writer should be a writer with or without beta readers and a wonderful editor, because they’re not going to be able to PICK their editor, period. Whichever house their agent hawks them to, and whoever is assigned within that house, is what they’ll get. As for hacks and writers — I see an awful lot of the former and not enough of the latter when I go book shopping, frankly. It’s disappointing, discouraging and infuriating. I’m not saying — and have been clear all along about this — that writing well is a problem. I’m simply pointing out that because the “established” authors don’t get held to the same standard as those of us trying to access the industry, there’s an incredible amount of junk out there. And that junk is keeping me and a lot of others I know who do write well out of those stores and off those shelves. I think the standard, once imposed, should be across-the-board. What does a reader know or care if the next novel by their favorite multi-bestselling novelist is heavily or lightly edited, or whether the publishing team sent it back to them seven or eight times for re-works? The fact is, the reader would have a good book in their hands instead of the mediocrity being pushed to them.

  6. I’m currently reading the second book in the Twilight series (yes, I just outed myself – don’t hold it against me) and if it wasn’t targeted to pre-teens, Stephanie Meyer would never have become so big.

    How can I NOT hold it against you??? ARRRGH!! It’s the WORST TAKE ON VAMPIRES EVER!! … so I hear. (I haven’t read it myself. Heh.) 😉

    I hate myself for reading it, especially when I ignore the story itself and focus on the writing. I found a typo in there that almost made me put the first book down – dust ‘moats’ instead of motes – but the storyline was compelling enough that I overlooked it.

    Oh stop it! How can you even FIND the story amidst all the garbage?? That’s like trying to find a Cracker Jack toy in the city landfill! 😉

    I can rip right through the latest ‘… In Death’ book by Nora Roberts because the characters are familiar, the storyline is essentially the same, and best of all – I don’t have to ‘test drive’ it to see if it’s something I really like.

    I’ve no experience with Roberts, so I can’t comment here. But if the book’s not well-written, all the same things apply to her that I’ve said about Meyer, Rowling, Koontz, et al.

    Luckily, I’m a voracious reader and will read anything – down to the instructions on a can of paint if there’s nothing else around – so I can easily find a book at 1/2 Price Books, the library, or even a monolith like Barnes&Noble although I’m loathe to pay $7.99 for a paperback if it’s untested.

    Well, that’s the rub, ain’t it? It shouldn’t be that way, that’s the point of the post. If you buy a paperback at B&N or Borders, you should be getting the high-standards of quality set by the industry. And yet, look at Meyer’s work. Uh … explanation please? What, all the copy editors were on vacation that book? Please. So you see where I’m going, right?

    Keep on doin’ what you’re doin’ and your success will come with time, Grasshoppah. In the meantime, write, revise, fine-tune, and edit without getting obsessive. Focus on the story and it will all work out in the end 😉

    We’ll try, and thanks for the shot in the arm, hon. Hope you — and your passenger — are doing well. 🙂

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