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    9/27/2006
    The Blame Game
    As readers, if a book sucks who do you think is responsible?

    Is it the author? Because the book first, last and always is their creation...

    Is it the editor? Because they bought it (at least with ebooks right?) and their job is to prepare the book for publication.

    Is it the reader? Because we all have different tastes and just because one person thinks a book sucks rocks, there is someone else to think it is the bestest book evah.

    Is it the publisher? Because you know there are more than a few people that think Avon killed the historical star.

    Or none of the above and bad books just happen...

    pondering on... and on...
    This is something I started to give thought to while blog hopping last night. I think it was on angiew blog that one of her author's said something along the lines of if something is bad it is their fault (the author) but good reviews reflect on both the author and editor.

    Now don't get me wrong, I am sure kissing your editors ass is a good thing at times, although I would hope not a must *g*. But that sort of stopped me ... because to me... if you except the positive you also except the negative. And isn't it the job of the editor to correct, revise, and keep an author from killing his/her book?

    How much control does an editor have over the final product? If you buy a book, love the book, work with the author on a book and then for whatever reason do not feel the final product is a good book - can an editor kill the book? Does an author HAVE to make changes suggested by the editor, or does that depend on the line and editor?

    The book I ended up thinking about is Lord Ruin by Caroline Jewel. I LOVE this book. But have always thought of it as... this book would have seriously rocked if it had a better editor. Now this is without ever discussing this with the author so my thoughts are nothing more than mine. But the book reads like it had many things added, taken away and then added. And the flow comes across as choppy in parts and like certain ideas may have been added or story lines cut without removing all of the references to them.

    But the writing, plot and characters are for the most part grand. Caroline Jewel has a great style I really want to see what she can do next. And still hope The Rake (or whatever the title is now) gets published some day.

    So my thoughts on this... combined with lurking through a handful of editor blogs last night lead me to wonder if I was being fair. Unlike many I don't (didn't... jury is still out right now on this one) think Avon is to blame for killing many a good writer. Because regardless of whatever rules they do or don't have - each author has the right to print with them or not.

    So if you take your grand novel, sell it to Avon, and they tell you 'love it but you must do this to it' and then your grand novel turns into grand suckage - well you did it. It is your name on the book as the writer. Or not? Once you sell that grand novel, do you as a writer lose control over the book? I am not really clear on this.

    And lets say you have no choice, lets say you have another book due with them, well what do you do? Become Dara Joy?!? I mean you can't really come out and say Publisher X sucks ass and fucked up my book. Because then you would never eat lunch in this town again. Or can you?

    Although at the end of the day, regardless of who would really be at fault or not, it seems to me the person who will take the most hits from the booksuckage will always be the writer.

    Labels:

    8 Comments:
    1. Hmm. This is a good topic and something I'll have to think about more before I really make a decision, but my first instinct is to say...both.

      The thing is, an author may have a wonderful voice for telling a story. Perhaps the characters really jump out at you, or the story sucks you in, but maybe they don't have the technical ability to write, i.e. grammar, punctuation, spelling, sentence structure. In which case, they really need a test reader/editor to guide them along.

      An editor might, in turn, take over the project, and the author, trusting them to know what's best, might agree to the changes. So, both would be at fault, right?

      But I really need to think about this more before I decide.

      By Blogger Holly, at 9/27/2006 12:10:00 PM  

    2. Oh, it's always the reader's fault ;)

      I think it's a combination of many of these things -- especially since suckage is so subjective. There are some elements, of course, that can't be ignored: sloppy writing, plots that make no sense, and horrible typos, for example. Those are squarely on the shoulders of the writer/publisher.

      When it comes down to it, though -- I think the author is responsible. If a manuscript comes in that isn't up to standards, then the editor does have the responsibility to say: okay, we need these revisions because this aspect of the book sucks! And most often, I think, suggestions are given. But the editors don't make the changes, don't put the words on the paper: the author does.

      Now, do I think that there have probably been some editorial suggestions that have probably lowered the quality of a book? Perhaps taken away some of its originality to fit within the publisher's scope? Certainly. And that's unfortunate. But I doubt that any well-written book will descend into complete suckage based on those suggestions. Chances are, the book was sucky in the first place. I know there are books that I've read this year and I thought: how in the hell did this make it past the editors? This makes no sense! And it is a knee-jerk reaction to blame editors for that, maybe, but really the problem was with the story. (But several of them went on to be bestsellers, so, hey, a lot of people are liking them and not minding that part of it -- and the editors obviously did their job, which was putting out a product that obviously entertained a lot of people and made even more money.)

      I do know that when my book comes out and reviews start coming in, I'll be blaming myself for any real problems in the book. The pacing, the descriptions, the plot -- those are all mine. If someone says they are lacking, and it seems not just a function of their taste but a true problem with the book, I'll have to accept responsibility for that. The good reviews? Well, I'll happily take them, too, but I wouldn't be getting them if an editor hadn't bought the book. So, yeah, I guess I'd definitely say it reflects on us both.

      However, there are going to be a lot of things that people will think suck, but have really nothing to do with the quality of the writing or the story, but just, as you mentioned, reader taste. Some people are going to hate my heroine; I already know this. They'll think she sucks, that she's unlikeable, that she ruins the whole book. Maybe they won't like the hero, or the violence. They won't like my style. But I don't blame the reader for that...maybe "blame" is too strong a word?

      So, to sum up, I think the blame depends on what sucks. Bad product, yeah, the author/publisher. Dislike for the story though not for any technical reasons? Maybe everyone.

      Yay! Incoherent post #1 for the day is complete!

      By Blogger meljean brook, at 9/27/2006 01:01:00 PM  

    3. Add:
      Dislike for the story though not for any technical reasons? Maybe no one, too.

      By Blogger meljean brook, at 9/27/2006 01:03:00 PM  

    4. It depends on what you mean by "suck".

      Ultimately, the author is responsible. Mostly for a bad story, bad pacing, bad writing. Editors and publishers bear some of that responsibility for buying a bad book, and a lot of responsibility for typos and spelling errors--the author should have caught them, but an editor definitely should have. I read a book once where all the homonyms were wrong, i.e. "site" instead of "sight"--and blamed all parties equally, because that's just sloppy.

      In the end, though...it's the author. Nothing should be going out with their name on it without having their final okay.

      By Blogger December Quinn, at 9/27/2006 03:42:00 PM  

    5. Sometimes it comes down to the mood that the reader is in as well though.

      There have been numerous occasions where I have started a book and thought I couldn't finish it but when I came back to it a couple of months later I really loved it!

      By Blogger Marg, at 9/27/2006 03:50:00 PM  

    6. Ultimately, it's the author's responsibility. Writers love their editors (when they're good) because they make their product better and that's why we like to acknowledge our editors. But in the end, an editor can only work with what they're given.

      By Anonymous Jorrie Spencer, at 9/27/2006 04:21:00 PM  

    7. It could be either/or. If it's a book that generally get's good reviews but one or two readers think it sucks - then it's the reader. If it get's panned everywhere by everyone then it's the writer's fault. I've read books that I though were awful - but I could see where the person next to me would like it and then again I've read books where I don't think even the author's mother could possibly like it.

      By Blogger Kristie (J), at 9/27/2006 06:34:00 PM  

    8. I think I'm going to echo what everyone else has said. Ultimately the book is the author's responsibility, but taste is so subjective. The book/author one person loves is the book/author someone else hates. So does the book suck because someone doesn't like it?

      That being said, some books really DO suck. In that case, I'd absolve the reader and lay some blame on the publisher for not being more critical. However, I know that no author ever deliberately writes a book s/he things stinks.

      (waving to Sybil and Kristie and Meljean)

      I must be really chatty today. Lots of caffeine, maybe? I commented on Alison Kent's blog, too. I'm usually the silent lurker. :-)

      By Anonymous Pamela Clare, at 9/29/2006 04:38:00 PM  

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