A little bit of a rant at the end of this blustery weekend. I’m sure you’ve figured out by now that I love books. Love to read them. Love to smell them. Love to write them. Love to roll around naked on them… Kidding. They are pokey and angular. Yet that smell…
There are so many choices too. Great titles. Seducing covers. Billions of stories further supplemented by the influx of self published authors. So why is it so hard to find a good book then?
In a word (or two) I blame self publishing. Wait, wait, I know that’s harsh. Bear with me here.
For me, when I’m looking for a new book, I have a certain superficial process, much like assessing someone for dating. It goes a little like this: Book Cover, Title, Author, Book Description on Back Page, First Few Pages.
But the part that’s killing me now is that a good portion of the self published folks don’t even try to polish their work before they put it out for mass consumption. When I’m at Half Price books looking for a good read, I make it to the back cover of very few books. Same with Amazon, actually. At least at the Barnes and Nobles brick and mortar I feel more confident about my book choices but it’s still not 100% guaranteed I’ll find something. Now with Amazon bringing brick and mortar to the market I feel this is going to get even worse.
There are literally millions of books out there that probably had the potential to be amazing but who ever wrote them decided it was ready NOW. They didn’t take the next steps to make sure it was ready. Would you go on a first date after putting organic mulch out in your garden all day? No, no you wouldn’t. You’d be all stinky and sweaty. Nothing a little showering and grooming won’t fix – but you wouldn’t be ready to meet a potential mate fresh out of the garden. So why would you do that with a book? Put it out in all of its stinky glory for everyone to potentially date?
Now, let’s move on to social media and its role in this dilemma.
Twitter can be a beautiful thing. I love following all of my friends, readers, writers, people I’m fan-girling over, folks from the music and comedy industry, agents, editors and publishers. Its too much fun seeing tweets from some of my favorite political activists who are dead-on my kind of people. But then there’s everyone else.
The re-tweeters. The marketers. The folks trying to sell their novels by inundating me with bad lines and not well thought out covers from their self published pieces.
If you are telling me *every single book* you tweet about is Awesome! Or Amazing! Or a Five star read! How likely am I to believe it’s a good book? Come on folks, someone paid them to say that. Even if it was just in a copy of their book. Don’t get me started on the New York Times Bestseller list and how they’ve messed up the system… So now we have been inundated with books that people are being paid to review and market. How many of those folks hired the necessary editors to bring their little darlings up to par for publication? Put it through its paces first?
What I want, what I NEED as a reader, is a rating system for books. Perhaps an organization for writers of self published books to join. It would have tight rules. Like, they’d have different levels of certification kind of like what WHOLE Foods has for its meat.
Level 1: Has no editing at all, outside of the writer or their loved ones. (I don’t care if you’ve gotten your masters in English. Editing your own writing very rarely works.) Level 2: Has Beta Readers & Critique Partners. Level 3: Same as levels 2 but has been through a developmental edit. Level 4: Same as levels 2 & 3 but has been through a line edit & hired a professional to do the cover. Level 5: Same as levels 2 – 4 but has been traditionally published & is now a free agent.
These numbers would be clearly printed on the cover for all to see. Can you imagine how much easier it would be to find good books? The thought gives me the shivers. That said, I’m not positive the same idea would work for dating. But hey, who am I to make assumptions? Tinder might just be doing it that way and we can’t see it.
I think you can tell from my previous statement that I’d be a Level 3 – 5 kind of gal. Yes, you might call me a snob. But seriously. I’ve spent most of my life reading, years of my life writing, and only a little less time than that editing manuscripts. After a bit, you get to know what makes a good book. It becomes natural. All of those how to write classes and novels help a lot too, but even before then there was instinct.
I’ll end today’s soap box rant with a thought for the entrepreneur out there who wants to take on the above mentioned idea and run with it:
Please, for the love of all that’s sacred, please do this? Take my idea, it’s yours. For free. Just tell me you’ve done it so I can see my idea baby grow.
I need this. WE need this.
And hope you had a great weekend!