February 16, 2011

Why Are Best Selling Authors Annoying Jenn?

I honestly wasn't much of a reader in my youth. I did my normal trip to the library, like every kid does, but never wanted to read anything.

At 12 or so, I started reading Nancy Drew. A staple for most young girls. Well, it worked. The whole mystery aspect drew me in. Finally! I found something I liked to read.

After watching Reading Rainbow--Yes, I watched the show even though I didn't read much--and seeing an episode where LeVar Burton was on the set of Star Trek: TNG, I started watching the show. I had seen episodes of the original Trek, but wasn't much of a "fan". Well it all changed with TNG. I became obsessive. Read all the books. Devoured them, actually.

I'm sure it had to do with the fact that I already knew the characters, and the writers of the books captured them perfectly. It was like reading an episode! Wow, books CAN be fun!

I graduated to other mystery and suspense authors and continued to read the Trek Books.

In my mid-twenties, I found three or four Best Selling authors (NY Times kind) and began gobbling up their back lists. It was great!

Then, slowly, everything turned to crap. I won't name names, because that's mean. But these authors were (and some still are) BIG TIME Best Sellers.

Author #1 Romantic Suspense. I read all her single titles, all the series titles for one specific character, and started to read her new releases as they came out once I caught up. When the fourth or fifth book of the series came out, I started to notice how sloppy the author was getting. Driving the same sad plot forward through dialogue 90% of the time, telling and telling and telling all over the place, and putting fifteen one line paragraphs on the page so it seemed way more suspenseful than it was. Bah. I was annoyed. I stopped reading her. Several weeks ago my sister gave me the latest book of the series. I skimmed through it to see if she changed at all. Got annoyed right away and haven't picked it up since.

Author #2 Mystery/Thrillers. FBI procedural type books. Right up my alley. I barely remember them now, shows how much they impacted me, but I did love the first few. Then noticed the same damn thing happening. Same types of plots--not exactly category type plots, but the author's unique plot rehashed out with different characters. Really? Ugh!

Author #3 Mystery/Cop procedural. I'm still reading this author, but the last book, still sitting on my nightstand, isn't doing it for me. I hope it's just the story for this one. I still think he's a great writer, but I've noticed a change. I will give him another chance, sure, because I've been reading him for at least ten years. I would hate to give up now.

Author #4 Thriller. This author blew me away with his character. LOVED HIM! Still do, even as the writing continues to get sloppy and annoying with long as sentences that don't need to be there, pages and pages of description that make my eyes glaze over. I actually skimmed parts of his last book because I was so annoyed.

I've also seen other various Best Selling authors change their story based on fan reaction, drag shit on way longer than it needed, probably because of the publisher, and a plethora of things to make me stop reading them. And I'm not even talking about the writers whose plots are always the same just with different characters.

I've even attempted to read other best selling authors who people have raved about and found myself wondering how in the world they got publishing in the first place...

It makes me sad.

As a writer, I always strive to do better. Learn the craft. Hone my skills. I know I'm not and will never be an amazing literary writer, but I don't want to be. I want to write Kick-Ass fiction that makes people go, hmm...wish that happened to me! I want to get better. I want to learn from my mistakes...like that one paragraph I once wrote describing in detail every piece of black clothing the villain wore. Bad, Jenn, bad!

People have told me that Big Time Authors sometimes get a chip and don't like to be edited when they're a best seller. Really? How does that make ANY sense? Your books went to the top on a collaborative effort. Your Publisher, Editor, Marketers, and You-The Author. Why would you change any of that?

Sure, I understand that there is tremendous pressure to get at least one new book out a year if you're a series writer, but don't you want each and every one of your books to get the attention it had when you first started, or, dare I say, more?

Shying away from some of these best selling authors has made way for me to read others I've never had time for.

It hasn't been going so well. My writer's eye has made it very hard for me to read for the pure enjoyment of it. All the rules I've learned over the years keep pounding in my head, practically screaming as I read. "That's passive voice!" "Why is this whole paragraph riddle with 'had'?" "How many commas do you really need--OMG just use a period!" "WHY ARE YOU HEAD HOPPING?!?"

I will say this, though, I am having far better luck with mid-list authors. The ones who are still grinding day in and day out to break through to the Best Sellers list. Seems they take their writing a little more seriously as an art form not just a way to make money.

I'm sure I'm not the only one out there. Has this happened to you? Which Best Selling Authors are you reading right now that you still love?


Cherie Reich said...

You're not alone, Jenn. I've read other people who touch on these same things. I think it should be quality over quantity, but it's probably hard being a best seller. You're always expected to come out with the next book that tops the one before. Authors can't keep going on like that forever, and the work will suffer. It's sad, but true. I haven't given up on an author yet, but I can see it happening from time to time.

Jenn Nixon said...

I do understand the pressure, but you'd figure with all the money they make, they don't have to work a day job anymore...all they have to do is write and promote. I would KILL for that! lol

Kat Lively said...

The only ones I managed to stick with are Dick Francis and James Ellroy. I think Francis was smart in that he didn't have one specific sleuth - he kept the horse-racing theme but mixed it up with characters, locales, and plots.

Ellroy, he's never dull. LOL

Jenn Nixon said...

@Kat, I never read them. I'll have to check both out! Thanks for the tip!

Terri Talley Venters said...

Amen Jenn. I share your feelings. You're right about not mentioning names, but they know who they are. It drives me nuts to read passive voice, head hopping POVs, and too much description. I promise if my name ever appears on the best seller list, I will not get sloppy and still strive for quality over quantity.

Jenn Nixon said...

@Terri Good to hear!! If those authors actually read my blog and knew I was talking about them, I would probably die! LOL But they are too big time to even worry about a blog like mine. heheh