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Anything sells?

Discussion in 'Publishing' started by lyl syly, Oct 26, 2016.

  1. lyl syly

    lyl syly Dreamer

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    Is it just me or does it seem like even bad fiction (all genres) sell these days as compared to even a decade ago?
     
  2. skip.knox

    skip.knox toujours gai, archie Moderator

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    It's just you.

    I'm only sort of kidding. Bad fiction has been around forever, but it goes deeper than that. What you say is bad fiction someone else says is great, or at least okay. Moreover, what you (or I) think is great fiction today we might not like a decade or two from now. Tastes change. A favorite example for me is Starship Troopeers by Robert Heinlein. I absolutely loved that book when I was young. Read it again when I was about fifty and had to force myself to finish it. The thing was embarrassing (still better than the movie, though).

    All that aside, I wonder why you ask. Often when people ask this kind of question, they actually have an answer and want to speak about it. If so (so long as it's fantasy), have at it!
     
  3. lyl syly

    lyl syly Dreamer

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    Actually, its that I read a book a day (usually) and always looking for things I haven't read (at the library) most of what I get seems to be pure trash (not all of it, but most) compared to what I was getting a decade ago.

    Funny you should mention Starship Troopers, I actually feel the same way. Of course, there are some who would classify that book as belonging with his juveniles (although I never saw it that way).

    Maybe I shouldn't complain, given that I am working (sadly slowly) on a fantasy novel of my own.
     
  4. skip.knox

    skip.knox toujours gai, archie Moderator

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    One possibility is that a decade ago you were perhaps entering into the world of literature, so you were reading, among others, some of the classics. Having got through (some of) those, you are now reading more current stuff. So, you're putting the production of the past decade up against the best of the previous four centuries (or so). The current stuff naturally has more whiffs.

    This, at least, is what happened with me. As a teen I consumed vast quantities of science fiction. I gulped down all that the field had to offer, from Verne and Wells right up to Ellison and Zelazny and Malzberg. There have been great sf books I've read since then, but they are spaced (pun!) farther apart, and I'm disappointed more often than I am rewarded. Same goes for fantasy. For that matter, same goes for Russian literature--two years of Dostoevsky and Tolstoy, then I look around and say what else you got? It's a bit like binge watching on Netflix. I consume entire comedy series, then kvetch because there's nothing fun to watch. Here we are, entertain us!
     
  5. lyl syly

    lyl syly Dreamer

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    But I started reading five decades ago :lol:

    Seriously, I actually got my sci-fi start with the E.E. Smith/Edgar Rice Burroughs/Robert Howard books in '64. Not much later came Asimov/Clark/Heinlein et al.

    I know there have been bad books/stories around far longer than I have been reading. It just seems that lately the sheer volume of bad heavily outweighs the good.
     
  6. Chessie

    Chessie Guest

    It also depends on your expectations. Good/bad books are purely subjective: one person may find a book unappealing while another may love the same book. Personal tastes, the mood and feelings you're looking for in a particular book, etc. When a reader deems a book bad, it usually means they didn't receive the emotional fulfillment/satisfaction they expected out of it. One can always say there's a storm of bad art out there...but is there really? Maybe there's just something for everyone and we're not always in the right target audience.
     
  7. Ronald T.

    Ronald T. Troubadour

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    I have to agree with Chesterama. I think that if an author doesn't tweak your emotions as you read, and do it often, then you'll feel unfulfilled at the end of the story. We read fiction to feel something, and we write it to allow others to feel what we feel. Fantasy is not meant to be a text book. It's meant to stir the emotions. If it fails to do that -- it failed to do its job.

    Just one man's opinion!
     
  8. Caged Maiden

    Caged Maiden Staff Article Team

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    A couple other things have changed, too. A decade ago, self-publishing didn't exist except for vanity presses. So, books had to be edited and pass through the publishing market. Now, I'm not blaming self-pub for a decline in quality, just saying that many of the books you see nowadays on Amazon aren't properly edited to the degree of many traditionally published works. Of course, there are MANY writers who are traditionally and self-published, so again, not bashing self-pub specifically, just saying there is no gatekeeper for many of the books we see in digital format, and some of those are complete garbage.

    Also, if you like, say, epic fantasy, the pickings have become slim because people now tend to write shorter books than longer ones, one, because publishers ask for debut novels no more than 120k words, and two, because a writer makes more money on writing three books than one large one. With current markets focusing on shorter ebooks rather than thick print books, if you're looking for immersive worlds like LOTR and GOT, there's just less out there than there was in the 90s.

    If you looked at the actual sales of most books, you'll find they sell very few in many cases. But still, they appear on lists with top sellers. It can be sort of disheartening to read a good book, or view one that you thought was great, and then look for "similar titles" and find garbage. But as others have stated, what one person loves, another will hate. I'm often surprised to see the bad reviews of the books i've loved. Like, what were those people reading? This is gold! But I guess it's always been that way. Like penny dreadfuls and dime store novels. They were meant to be enjoyed and then tossed.

    I can count on one hand the number of books I've really loved in the last five years. Which is sad. There were plenty of good ones, but love? That's harder to achieve. One thing I've noticed is that YA is a fast-growing market, and I think the quality of YA books is really outstanding now. I'm not sure if Harry Potter changed that for the world, or what, but there are a lot of really great epic-style fantasy series for YA readers. Another growing market is fantasy for women, which sees a female protagonist, and many of those feature romantic subplots along with the epic adventure.

    I don't think that quality has changed so much as markets have changed (as female readers demand fantasy that feels more empowering to women, and YA readers can buy books for their kindles and have their own money with which to buy their own books). When I was young, I couldn't buy a book with my meager allowance, so I read what was on my father's bookshelves. mostly all fantasy, so I guess that's where I got my love from.

    Anyways, I've seen a lot of terrible books over the past few years, and often "look inside" a dozen books before I find one that interests me even a little. So, you're definitely not alone. Sometimes those books might have been great if they were only edited a bit more, with a focus on engaging a reader up front. Other times, it's just a matter of taste, and our requirements to be entertained has simply advanced to the point where we no longer read everything our friends recommend, but each new novel must pass our own tests. And I know I now am more picky. I want every book to move me like The Lies of Locke Lamora did. I want every book to make me laugh like MYTH Adventures did in the 90s (which I'm rereading now). :)
     
  9. Russ

    Russ Istar

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    I hate to sound like a lawyer, but it depends on what you mean by "sell".
     
  10. Chessie

    Chessie Guest

    While I agree that many books out there are garbage (to me anyway), most of the self-published authors I know work very, very hard to ensure their books are good quality. This includes working with editors, cover artists, proofreaders, betas, etc. There are traditionally published books that are poorly edited, or have lame stories, same as with self-pub. So it really depends on what the reader is specifically looking for. Also, a professional quality self-published work will not appear any different than a traditionally published one, and the only way to tell on Amazon is by checking the vendor. It's a competitive business and to get anywhere, polished books are a must.
     
    Russ likes this.
  11. lyl syly

    lyl syly Dreamer

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    Sell. Get published. Often by bigger publishers. I volunteer at a couple of homeless shelters and often pickup some fantasy/sci-fi out of donated books and read them. I end up reading more trash this way than I do good books. Then I go to the library and look at the new books and see the same authors. More trash.

    I suppose that I have just become jaded by all the great literature I have read over the years but ...

    BTW, I love that quote.
     
  12. skip.knox

    skip.knox toujours gai, archie Moderator

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    It is important to be able to distinguish between garbage and stuff that simply does not appeal to you. That said, there has been mountains of garbage published in every generation. No need for despair; just go write good ones.
     
  13. neodoering

    neodoering Minstrel

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    I'm not sure I'm encountering more bad fantasy than a decade ago, but there certainly seems to be more mediocre fantasy on the market these days. A lot of it seems like derivative pablum. Ho-hum characters, average plot, no new ideas. Competent, but nothing outstanding about it. There is little diversity. Book after book patterned off Dungeons & Dragons and other video games, and faux-European medieval settings, and an endless sea of white people. I've taken to reading the classics, because I'm not pleased with most modern fantasy. So: Beowulf, Inferno, Iliad, Odyssey. And anthologies of short stories. Till the tide turns, and diversity comes into vogue.
     
  14. Russ

    Russ Istar

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    I don't think this is a new phenomena. Micheal Moorcock, et al, created the new wave of SF in the 60's because they felt exactly the same thing about what was being published at the time.
     
  15. TheCatholicCrow

    TheCatholicCrow Inkling

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    So ... just to get this straight ... in protest of a lack of diversity and an overabundance of white male characters you've turned to books focusing on ... white male characters? ;)

    Wouldn't it make more sense to create a market for the books you're after by searching them out & supporting new works so we can bring about this new trend together?

    Don't get me wrong, I LOVE the Classics but ... if it's diversity you're looking for, old European Lit isn't going to be where you'll find it.

    You could try some more international works ... maybe stepping outside of the US & UK markets would open new doors and expose you to some different forms of Fantasy ... for instance, Latin American Fantasy (probably closer to what we know as "Magical Realism") is pretty popular & not too hard to find English translations (even easier to come across if you can read Spanish).

    I'm sure there's some interesting stuff coming out of Asia & Africa too ...
     
    Russ, Svrtnsse and Ireth like this.
  16. skip.knox

    skip.knox toujours gai, archie Moderator

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    I second what Russ said. Pretty much every generation decides what's current is garbage and claims it's going to write new stuff. Occasionally they really do.

    That said, it's important that every generation *believes* what's current is garbage, or they won't ever write new stuff.
     

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