Okay, I’m going to start off by saying this morning’s post is late because WP decided, much like FB, to “improve” things. That meant changing the entire frigging posting interface. Fortunately, I’m a stubborn woman and I kept checking various menus, options, etc., until I found the old interface. That is a big sigh, as at least a few of my fellow Mad Ones will agree. I really, really wish these platforms would quit changing things that basically work. Now, onto the post.
I’ve mentioned before that I was fortunate to grow up in a house where reading was encouraged and books valued. As I sit here typing this, I’m surrounded by books that span not just a few years but decades. Hell, if I’m honest, a couple are more than a century old. Over the years, I’ve added a few books to this particular collection but, for the most part, these are books my parents collected. My books are in another part of the house or on my Kindle or backed up to external storage devices.
These books cover pretty much any subject or genre you might want to find. That’s something else I give my parents credit for. They encouraged reading a wide range of topics by doing so themselves. So walk in here and you’ll find everything from a multi-volume series on Lincoln or Robert E. Lee to a first edition of Rand’s The Fountainhead to a first edition of Ferber’s Giant. Then there’s the Physician’s Desk Reference, religious books, self-help and so much more.
When I was a kid, each of these books was a place of escape for me. Just as the newer books I’ve added have been.
I wish I could say that about a number of the books coming out from traditional publishers these days. Maybe I’m jaded. Okay. I know I am. I’m old enough to be cynical and I hung around the edges of the profession long before I started publishing. Even if I hadn’t, I could see the change in much of what we get now compared to what used to come from trad publishers.
No, I’m not talking the sex or cussing or stuff like that. I’m talking about quality of storytelling, of taking a story and making it yours.
How often have you picked up a book published in the last 20 years and started reading it only to stop and wonder if you hadn’t already read it? Then you check the title and publication date and realize you couldn’t have because it just came out.
I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve done so. There are authors I no longer buy because all they are doing now is filing off the serial numbers of another book or series they wrote–and doing so badly. The names and places may have changed but the basic plot is still the same. I found myself knowing before the end of the first or second chapter who the bad guy was, how he would try to win the day and how he would be defeated. If romance was part of the plot, I’d even know who wound up with who and how the next book in the series would then go down.
You can fool me once or twice but after that, you aren’t going to get my money.
The fact publishers are not only encouraging writers to do this but demanding it in some instances shows they don’t care either. All they look at is what worked once. Then they will milk that twist or turn until it no longer sells. When that happens they are off to their next gimmick–we saw it with The Da Vinci Code and with Twilight, with 50 Shades and with Hunger Games.
Worse, we see it coming in the TV and movie industry as well.
Fox has a new cop show on that started a couple of weeks ago. It’s a “buddy” show. But there’s a twist: the cop buddies are women. No, not in the Cagney & Lacey mode but in the Lethal Weapon mode. In fact, if you think about it as you watch the first episode, it is close to a recasting of the Lethal Weapon TV series which ran, iirc, on Fox. The idea was old then. It is just bad now, especially since they are trying to have one of the leading female characters be more bad ass than Mel Gibson ever was.
Then, while I was trolling Youtube for something to play in the background while I worked the other day, I came across a trailer for The Witches.
I watched it and remembered another movie with the same name and same premise. Oh yeah, also based on the Roal Dahl story. That one starred, among others, Angelica Huston and Mai Zetterling.
And who can forget the retreads we’ve gotten from Hollywood like “Car 54, Where are you?”, the female version of Ghostbusters, just to name two that left many of us wondering where all the creativity has gone?
All that is a long-winded way of saying this is why I appreciate indie publishing as a reader. I can find books publishers won’t put out because they don’t fit the mold of whatever the trend of the day happens to be. Or because the author refused to use the mandated (okay, it’s an unofficial mandate) tickler system of who can write about what and write which characters, the types of characters you must have, etc. (Remember, the Oscars are now talking about mandating the makeup of not only the crew but the cast/characters of a movie for it to qualify for the awards.)
The small press and indie publishing movement has allowed writers like those of us here at MGC to write not only stories we like but stories that you guys want to read. They’ve let authors like Jean Rabe who did a guest post for us back in July write a series that publishes wouldn’t touch because she dared blur sub-genre lines in a way they hadn’t seen before.
I don’t know about you, but I would prefer publishers listen to their readers instead of trying to educate us about what they see as social causes, at least when it comes to fiction. I’d like them to pay attention to price points and quit treating us like we are too stupid to realize it doesn’t cost as much to produce and transmit an e-book as it does a print book. As a reader–not to mention as a writer–I want them to pay authors what that author is worth, not just pennies on the dollar. Gone are the days when publishers printed hundreds or thousands of copies of a book, hoping it would sell.
Now they do the initial print run based on pre-orders plus a certain percent of that number. Everything else can–and probably is–basically a print on demand issue, not that they will admit that to the author. I don’t have solid proof of it but there is plenty of anecdotal proof out there. How else do you explain the number of authors who see their so-called sales figures and then the publisher says there are x-number of books still in the warehouse from the first printing–which, if you add the two numbers up total something much more than the contract called for in the first printing?
In other words, as a reader, I’m tired of being taken for granted by publishers (and by movie and TV producers). Give me a good indie book any day of the week. As for video, well, there’s plenty of older work out there I’d rather watch than almost anything on the screen today.
Oh, and here is where I shill for myself. If you haven’t checked out A Magical Portent yet, please consider doing so:
Dr. Jax Powell and her best friends, her sisters from other misters, are determined to do whatever it takes to protect their town and loved ones. Each of them, once considered the town’s wayward children, have returned home. All but one: Magdalena “Maddy” Reyes. She’s not refused to return to Mossy Creek, but she appears to have dropped off the face of the Earth—or at least from the streets of Dublin.
Can they find Maddy and save their town or is it already too late?
Also, Cat’s Paw is available for pre-order and will be released later this month:
Five years after the world learned shapeshifters are real, Mackenzie Santos is at a crossroads. Her responsibilities to the local pride and the Tribunal are taking more and more of her time. As the Dallas Police Department’s official liaison with the federal government on all things dealing with shapeshifters, she often finds herself on the road. That means she is away from her daughter, who is growing up much too quickly. Something has to give, and it might just be the job she loves.
But walking away isn’t going to be easy. Someone out there is determined to prove monsters do walk the face of the Earth and that they are the top of the proverbial food chain. They don’t care how many lives are lost or how many innocents are hurt. This is war and Mac and those she loves are in the middle of ground zero.
Leaving the DPD may no longer be an option. Yet the restrictions placed on her as a cop may prevent her from stopping the carnage, especially since she doesn’t know where the danger comes from or where it will strike next.