Saturday, May 02, 2009

Something to keep in mind

The next time you find yourself fussing about how long it takes your favorite author to come out with a new book and then complaining when that book turns out to be crappy.

Interesting comments from Nick Stone (Mr. Clarinet, King of Swords):

"For some reason certain (though by no means all) publishers seem to think that quantity is the new quality. You know, get a new book on the shelves every year on the dot, regular as clockwork and Christmas. I understand the commercial reasoning behind it – up to a point (JK Rowling and Thomas Harris don't write a book a year - Thomas Harris never did that at all) – but, said publishers tend to forget the most important part of the equation – THE READER. You have to keep the readers happy. At all costs.

"The thing is, when you’re a writer on that book a year treadmill, you have six months to produce a book. For some writers that's just fine and they write according to those constraints and produce great work. But, for other writers, who'd maybe like to spend longer on their books, the process is hell. And it usually results in a quality “crack curve” – a quick, sharp peak (say the first two or three books), followed by a long ruinous descent (the rest). The books tend to read increasingly like tired contractual obligations, poor photocopies of a poor photocopy of a poor photocopy. The plots blur into one, the characters are empty vessels and the prose is a delivery mechanism for thrills and spills by rote. You can't fool your readers. They know when you're phoning it in. And they are ultimately your judges. They condemn you with their closed wallets and bad word of mouth.

"Publishers should remember the following maxim: if you feed your golden goose laxative you’ll just get shit."

See the full interview.

Careful what you wish for...