Wherein I Rant a Bit…


Agent Rachelle Gardner has a great post up today that was sparked by her reading Steve Jobs’ biography and his line “When the sales guys run the company, the product guys don’t matter so much, and a lot of them just turn off.” and how it relates to the publishing industry.

I’ve felt the same as Rachelle for the past few years. I mentioned on Twitter the other day that I see so many readers clamoring for more urban fantasy books and so many amazing writers complaining that their urban fantasy series was either not picked up or it was canceled. I’ve heard time and time again that the UF market is tight and that demand is on a decline. Well, maybe demand from publishing houses is on the decline, but that’s not true for readers.  When shows like Lost Girl, Supernatural, and Grimm are so popular, how can anyone say there’s a decline in interest in urban fantasy?

What readers don’t want is to pay $8 for a book that is as poorly written, error-riddled, and cliched as the self-published book they paid $.99 for. Not that I’m saying all self-pubbed books are like that. I know some self-pubbed authors who go above and beyond to put out the best book they possibly can. What I am saying is that readers buy books published by a big name publishing house because they’ve come to expect certain standards from those houses. Unfortunately, I’ve seen a sharp decline in the quality of books coming out of those houses. It’s gotten to the point where I won’t pick up a new urban fantasy author until I’ve heard some pretty glowing reviews from people and places I trust (especially now that Amazon has stopped offering their 4-for-3 mass market paperback deal)

The biggest issue, IMO, is that as soon as the genre hit big, publishing houses scrambled to sign as many urban fantasy writers as they could, regardless of how good their story was, in order to make as much money from the trend as possible. When those poorly written, badly edited stories came out, readers reared back in disgust and refused to partake of the dreck they’d been served. Now, the publishing houses, seeing how poorly those titles have sold, are saying that the market is in decline. Ummm… no. It only looks that way because you guys fouled the well.

And, it’s not only urban fantasy this happens to. Every genre that experiences a surge in popularity goes through this same cycle. You would think that the publishers would realize the pattern by now, but no. Or, maybe they do. maybe this is all a deliberate marketing strategy. I don’t know.

What I do know is that I keep hearing agents, writers, and editors all saying that the industry is driven by everyone’s passion for good books and not money. If that’s the case, then why are there so many atrocious books on the market? And I’m not just talking story-wise since that’s so subjective. I’m talking about books with plot holes as big as a house, books that have copy-editing errors on every other page, books that switch POV within the same freaking paragraph. If the industry is driven by a passion for good books, then PUT OUT good books. Otherwise I call shenanigans.



4 responses »

  1. You already know I agree with you on this 🙂

    It disgusts me, really, that the Big 5 have so much audacity to spit out horribly edited books like they are. And not only are they horribly edited, the story itself is atrocious. Readers want GOOD stories and WELL EDITED books if they’re going to shell out their hard earned money. And for the Big 5 to say that the market for UF is declining is just hilarious. As you said, shows like Grimm, True Blood, Supernatural, Haven..etc, are HUGE hits.

    The market’s not declining- readers are just going elsewhere. Places they can get GOOD stories that are WELL EDITED. Idiots.

    • Exactly! Readers are more willing to take chances on self-pubbed books because they’re so much more affordable. If you get a bad book, you’re out between $1 and $4 usually. It’s so much easier to find good books that you enjoy when you’re not so worried about paying an insane amount of money for something that turns out to be bad.

  2. This is where I worry. I write in this genre which means when I do shop for an agent and a publisher, it’s going to be tough to get it sold. Yet, as a reader, I am always looking for some fresh new UF.

    • I’m currently out on sub with my urban fantasy novel and it’s so frustrating. Almost all of my rejections have praised the novel quite a bit, yet they’re still rejecting it. I understand that an editor has to love the story just as much if not more than the author simply because they need to be able to use that love to sell it, but come on! If it’s such a great story, then surely there’s a market for it. Sadly, we’re at the end of our list of editors to sub to and it looks like we may have to shelve it if our last three “long shot” editors pass.

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