I’m an avid read of Agent Kristin’s blog (who represents authors like Marie Lu, Mari Mancusi and Ally Carter). I think she gives pretty good advice and she has some good insider information on what’s going on behind the scenes in the publishing world. As she should. Since she’s an agent. So I’m reading one of her posts where she reveals what editors are seeing and there’s a common theme that keeps cropping up. Maybe you’ve heard of it?
No, I’m not joking. Read her post here. With the publication of things like TWILIGHT and FIFTY SHADES OF GRAY, editors are getting submissions that are of a less than savory quality. The thing is, the majority of these submissions are from agents who’ve already acquired the manuscript.
I’m a fan of Kristin because the manuscripts she takes on are books that she can get behind for more than money. She doesn’t look at her acquisitions and go “YES! The next best dystopian!” She takes novels on because she truly believes they’re good and she can put herself behind them 100%. This isn’t the case with all agents. Agent are commission-based so if one of them comes across a manuscript that they think they can hitch on a wave and sell, some are going to acquire that manuscript, and it might not be the best thing they can acquire, much to the chagrin of those editors and additionally, us, the reading public.
Lo and behold copycats are born. Editors are the same way, of course. Some want quality while others see wave jammers. We’ve seen many, MANY of those wave jammers recently, I think. I’m starting to branch out of reading the YA market because, frankly, I’m tired of coming across the same thing. I’m tired of starting to read a book that I just end up DNF-ing because I’ve effing read it before or it’s just not well-written or I couldn’t connect with it or whatever.
Lately I’ve been feeling a bit like Stan when he turns 10 and the world around him just turns into a pile of crap.
Is it me? Am I just bitter and I’m just not liking anything I’m reading? Did I hit an unfortunate string of books? Or is this indicative of the quality that’s being released? I just DNF-ed a really popular title. I was SO excited to read this one. Truly. And I really hated DNF-ing it because I did want to like it. The thing is I wanted to set it on fire by the end of chapter two. I will be doing a DNF review of that soon so I won’t go into detail here. What I will say is I’m getting exceptionally tired of trying to read books that just end up falling flat.
With Agent Kristin’s blog post above, it’s a bit more reassuring of my opinion that it’s not just me. If agents out there are acquiring crap that rightly isn’t ready for publication then it’s probably getting published somewhere, set free into the world for mass consumption.
I don’t consider myself a literary person in the slightest. I can marvel at fine writing like the next college graduate with an English major but I read to escape. Just give me a good story, some good characters and a mighty fine world and I’ll be as happy as a pig in shit. Except I’ve been getting let down far too much lately. Sure I could have high expectations but in reality my expectations aren’t very high. I don’t go into a book thinking it’s going to be the best thing ever written. I do go into it thinking it’s going to be good, whatever that work entails. I go into it thinking that it won’t have me wanting to throw it across the room in frustration or begrudge reading it because I’m so bored with it. I expect it to not look like a first draft or read like someone in high school remedial English wrote it. I expect it to live up to it’s quality that professional publication would insinuate. I expect it to have been vetted and edited to within an inch of its life. I don’t expect to love it. I just don’t expect it to look self-published.
Are my expectations too high? Maybe. Or maybe I’m just not a fan of getting force-fed the same thing over and over again with eroding quality all the while. If only ALL editors and agents felt the way those guys do. We’d without a doubt have some better books to read. And it would set the bar a little higher on the reading side. We wouldn’t just take what we’re given and accept that it’s awesome because that’s what we’re told. We’d recognize awesomeness because that’s what it would actually be. Not everyone is going to like every book, of course, but I don’t need to tell you that a gorgeous rich girl super spectacular #1 assassin with magical powers is pretty damn Sue if I ever saw one.