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?