Oct 17, 2016
I'll say at the outset that self-publishing availability does allow writers to publish work that simply isn't ready. A reader can figure out who those people are by perusing sample chapters on Amazon (or the book descriptions, written by the author in most cases). I have to admit from listening to readers and writers for years, there seem to be readers for every book, good or bad.
I object to someone who sets herself up as a judge of good books based on what the industry says and does. For example, the writer of this article claimed self-published books use the wrong fonts and improper layouts. Her wholesale condemnation and her contention that big booksellers always get it right was both offensive and silly.
Shortly after I finished reading the article, I opened a book released by a major publisher to find close lines, small print, and a spindly, faint font printed on cream-colored paper. Yuk! My first Maggie Pill book was set up according to "industry standards" that someone else chose. People said, "Loved the book--hated how hard it was to read!" After that I followed my own instincts and produced much easier-to-read books.
How many of us have half-ruined our eyes trying to read a big-time publisher's idea of "proper" formatting? My husband will struggle through a book like that if he's interested, but I've decided life's too short. (If I really want to read it, I buy it for Kindle.) The reading public is aging, and publishers must be aware of that, but their profit comes before all else.
I've also had the "Chapters MUST start on a right-hand page" argument with publishing purists.Why? That wasteful idea should disappear, like the two-spaces-after-a-period we were taught in long-ago typing class that is now taken as a sign of senility.
The article writer went on to disparage self-pub covers, implying that authors try to save a buck by making their own. Most don't, and again, the reader's eye will tell her if the cover is bad. If it is, be suspicious of the rest of it.
The article writer works for an organization that had reviewed self-published books and now has decided not to, for the reasons she listed. That's their prerogative, I guess, and I know the number of books coming out is staggering. Still, the publishing world is changing. By ignoring self-pubbed authors, they'd have missed The Martian, The Wool Trilogy, Still Alice, and 50 Shades of Grey (not a recommendation; just sayin') to name a few.
Publishing purists ignore the fact that some writers get tired of getting pennies for their work and (in my case) a whole year where a publisher announced, "We've gone bankrupt, so all you authors get nothing." Some of us worked hard to learn what to do and figured out that we can do it ourselves. We don't just slap a book together. We want to get it right, and we hire expert help when we need it.
That's the good part of not being a snob.
Aug 1, 2016
For some reason I ended up with a bunch of historicals at my last visit to the bookstore. It could be that there are a lot of them out there, and it could also be that I'm drawn to them. Here's what I've got:
The Museum of Extraordinary Things by Alice Hoffman-I'd read good things about this one, and I did enjoy the gradual narrowing of the distance between the two protagonists. Lots of interesting stuff about the times, when it was perfectly okay to display "freaks" and pretend it was science--although I guess today we do the same thing through television and pretend it's altruism.
A Burnable Book by Bruce Holsinger-This one isn't for the casual reader of historicals. Like Hilary Mantel's work, it's a book that immerses one in the time, with references to real people the reader is expected to recognize and words I wouldn't have known except for good old Dr. Calver's Chaucer class back at U of M many decades ago. I had to wade through dark passages and shifting points of view, both first person and third, for a while before I began to care about anyone in the slowly-emerging story. I also am not sure the premise of the mystery fits the machinations involved. Still, I'm far enough along that I'll stick with it and see where it all ends up. (After all, Chaucer himself is a character.) The author definitely has a gift for description, and he knows the period. This reader can almost feel the grit of medieval times beneath her fingernails.
My favorite of the bunch is The Tilted World, by Tom Franklin and Beth Ann Fennelly. The book has it all: the disastrous flood of 1927 in the southern United States, a love story, characters I cared about, moonshine, revenuers, and lots of action. There was one suspend-your-disbelief moment, but it had to happen somehow to close the story arc, so I was okay with it. As I read, I kept imagining this book as a movie, and it would be a good one.
I still have Jessie Burton's The Miniaturist on the shelf; then it's on to Laurie King's The Murder of Mary Russell. I like her books, so it should be a good week!
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