“As you know…”

I’m around 25% of the way through possibly the most poorly written novel I’ve ever read.  I was off on a short break and was seeking Kindle-based reading matter; this particular story cost me less than £2 to download.  I know, I know, that should have been a clue.   But it had a ton of 5-star reviews, so even though it hadn’t been recommended by anybody I know (that’s my usual lead-in to a new author) I figured it was worth a look.

It started well, but as I read, my astonishment grew.  How come there were so many solid 5-star reviews praising the quality of the writing, plotting and so on, when to me it felt clunky and characterless?  Worst still, it was swamped with the sort of sudden-death contrivances which cause editors to throw manuscripts across the room in despair – the as-you-knows and all that.

In theory, anybody can publish a novel on Kindle.  So, in a world where the overwhelming majority of manuscripts get rejected by traditional publishers, should we novice authors be excited by the possibility that we can get our books out there without the support of agents, editors and publishing houses?  Or should we dread the tsunami of self-indulgent, shoddily written, unedited narratives that will be the inevitable result of such freedom?  Might they not overwhelm the traditional printed book and dumb-down the reading experience?

7 thoughts on ““As you know…”

  1. What are you reading? I didn’t know that anyone can publish on the Kindle. I was reading a book recently that I quite a few typos. That might explain it. Also it wasn’t particularly good. There was little character development and a lot of cheese.

    It would be really unfortunate if the Kindle increased reading in society, but also brought down the quality of work simultaneously.

    1. Hi Poonam, and thanks for your comment. Yes, anybody can publish on Kindle. Google search reveals numerous pages of advice on how to go about it. And sorry, I couldn’t possibly say which book I was reading (I’ve given up on it now). I’m not after damaging the morale or confidence of somebody who is, after all, just another budding author. I wish them well, but I wish they had been edited.

  2. Maybe it’s a bit of both. The price we pay for being able to get our work out there easily is the ocean of mediocrity it will be forced to swim in, but at least it gives us the chance. Will the cream still rise? Perhaps in time there will be some sort of more reliable review process. Whilst quality is more likely to be assured via the traditional publishing route, there are also a lot of excellent books that will never see the light of day under that system.

    1. I agree. There must be progress and technology is the driver of progress. ‘Soft’ formats are certainly bringing books (of all quality) to new audiences and that must in general be a good thing. In theory, the more people read, the more opportunities there are for writers. But just as we should resist the dumbing-down of GCSEs, the proliferation of worthless degrees, the spinning of politics and the swamping of quality TV drama in shouty, angry soaps… (yes, I am a Grumpy Old Woman)… so must we resist accepting sloppy writing as ‘good enough’ simply because it can be cheaply and easily produced.

  3. ysually reading and writting novels then it needs acting ; iwas obliged to do it my self it’s too dificult i guess

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