Thursday, June 30, 2011

Franchising an Author

Hail thee Nora Roberts.

She is worshiped up on high and is considered one of the more prolific authors of our time. Now, how anyone can crank out as many books as she does a year is beyond me. Maybe once you have the formula down it is easy peasy. Or maybe, just maybe, there is a ghostwriter involved. She claims to write all her own books, but I call bullshit. When I had read a few books from the "In Death" series, I felt like she dictated a Mad libs or phoned it in from a vacation home. Hence I never finished it or liked it. Same as Evanovich's Stephanie Plum series or Hamilton's Anita Blake series. I know I have discussed them before and it quite clear I am not a series type reader, except for Fforde's Thursday Next, but I am impressed by the fans who gush at every publication. Blinded by reused plot lines, poor writing, typos, editing errors and the same sex scenes used over and over. Example: Every time Roarke touched Eve I knew just where his hands would go and how her eyes would roll to the back of her head while his went opaque. Not that sexy, but whatever. I wanted to smack Eve more often then not and I doubt that was the author's intent so that was that.

Moving on.

Let me say I was shocked when a recent review of one of Romance Queen Nora's books on Smart Bitches garnered a D grade. The discussion was very revealing to me. I always enjoy reading why people love or dislike a book and this was no different. To read how and when others started to notice the regurgitated plots and characters and how it pissed them off. How a few actually stated that they wanted better from Nora since she can be damn good. That is very, very true. When Nora Roberts is on, she is on, but when she is off good God it is a disaster.
No one should walk away thinking I am disparaging light reading or fluff. When it is done well it is a lot of fun and there are authors who do it well. I just really loathe when fluff is half assed and given high marks because the author always produces "best sellers". Publishing is a business and money is money so even if a book is bad, if a 'name' wrote it, it will be put out there before anything else. Especially before an unknown gets a push.

Author CS Harris did a great post on the topic called "Authors as Franchises". She discusses how this new trend is exploitative and a gyp to the co-author and the reader. Not that an author should not try to make the most out of their name or market themselves, but it sucks when it is at the expense of unknown underlings who may make the author seem prolific or an even better writer than they are.
I tried to empathize, but I cannot. If I was published and had deadlines, would I use a co-author? I doubt it. My voice is the one readers are paying to hear, the one they want, not some co-author. If they wanted someone else, they would go out and purchase an entirely different book.

I hope the publishing industry uses the big bucks raked in by their franchised authors to offer a new voice a chance, but I fear it may not be so.


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