I just read a book set on the American homefront during World War 2 by a New York Times bestselling author. I'd read the reviews and while they were mixed, I figured I'd go ahead and give the book a shot.
I devoured the book in 24 hours - something I rarely do (of course, I was also sick and didn't feel like doing much else!). But when I got to the last two chapters, the author had her character make a decision that I neither agreed with nor thought plausible. I felt cheated. Because I cared about the author's characters, I decided to come up with my own ending, one which satisfied me much more.
When I went to look at the reviews, I found that I was not the only person who disagreed with the ending.
Now I know that book reviews are subjective - some people will hate a book that others love. But when the same thing is cited in the majority of reviews as being the kicker as to why the book didn't receive the best rating, you've got to take a look at it. For me, the author's decision to end the book this way effectively "broke" the promise that she'd made with me when I started the book.
Some reviewers stated that they'd loved this author's books - all of them - but this one. And that got me to thinking about several things not only about writing, but about the publishing industry in general.
Here are a few of my thoughts:
1) The pressure.
I can't imagine the pressure that NY Times bestselling novelists have to produce great books one right after the other. Does there come a point where they just type the ending, throw up their hands, and say, "Good enough!" ?
I'm talking about the push for authors to produce a book a year or sometimes even more. I remember reading an author's first book - it was extremely well-written, emotionally-intense, and remains one of my favorite books. But her second and third books, well, fell flat. I wonder if it's because she spent all that time on her first book, honing and polishing it until it gleamed, because she had time to do all those things. In the rush-rush world of publishing, I'm thinking authors don't have nearly the luxury of all that time. Pubbed authors, if I'm wrong, let me know!
We all get it. But when you have a deadline and a contract to fulfill, it doesn't much matter, does it? You've got to get the book written and submitted. Does this lead to a less-than-enthusiastic effort on the author's part? And is there a way to avoid burnout as a successful, published author?
Lots and lots of stuff to think about. It only reinforces the notion in my mind that becoming a published novelist will be wonderful, BUT it will have its own stresses to deal with.
In the end, it's the writing that matters. Here's the thing, though. Does the writing get pushed to the side because of one of the three reasons above, or a combination?
Curious to hear what you all think...
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