Won’t make it any better than it is.
As writers, our inboxes are constantly assaulted by the latest “What Readers Want” and “What Publishers Want” infomercials from writer’s aid websites, publishers and editors. All full of quantified data molded around the messenger’s claim. What if we took time to check out the real world?
I bought a book the other day.
Brand spankin’ new.
For a dollar.
Lightly textured jacket.
Heavy cream paper.
No fewer than nine author testimonials. Some I’d never heard of, but several pillars of the wordy type cop genre. Even the ones I didn’t recognize were noted as NY Times bestsellers (of course). Along with the usual brand name rags like The Observer, and The Guardian.
Inside that high rent jacket was the original retail price.
$27 US. $36 Canadian.
Fuck me. I can buy real literature from Half Price Books for two bucks.
This one didn’t come from a book store.
It was in a bin at Dollar Tree just like the bins where they pile up shitty tools, five packs of colored electrical tape, foam paint brushes and neon plastic fly swatters.
I hope the irony of a “best selling” hardback book at Dollar Tree wasn’t lost on anyone.
There’s a great review of Sirens here: https://charles-harris.co.uk/2018/05/seductive-sirens-joseph-knox/ Written, no shit, by one of those nine bestselling author’s dad.
I’ve read small pieces of Sirens. You know how you pick up a book you paid a buck for, glance inside just to see what it is because you set it down someplace in the way. Here’s an interesting observation. If you read the brief review, you know the lead comes in weak. I looked at this baby-faced kid who wrote it whom we are told runs, I assume that’s important to keep his cherubic cheeks pink, and once worked in bars, bookshops and was a buyer for some book chain.
And there it is. Several urban myths and much writerly advice bullshit blown out of the water. He’s writing what he’s read, stuff you can find every day in The Guardian and on ID’s streaming murder procedural porn, or even in my Character Bullpen or Gambits posts, but has no real idea how his characters got to be who or what they are. From what I’ve read it also has more than its share of adverb-ly dialog tags, and weak or downright bad dialog from what are supposed to be “streeters”. There’s a two-fer of myths exposed right there – publishers hate adverbs and it’s all about content, not who you know. My opinion is you aren’t going to learn to write “street” jogging around suburban Manchester and London, reading tough guy books, buying mysteries for a book store and watching a few Tarantino movies. But I do know if you bang on the back door of a concert they’ll let you in if they know you.
I see the author now has 3 books in the series. The original (the one I have, 2018) is still $8.99 on Amazon. Over $11 for the Kindle. That’s like the $2 I paid for air the other day after my TPM lit up on the interstate. The newer books escalate in price to $16.99.
Used for a buck fifty-nine.
Is that price really “Publisher overstock with possible minor shelfwear, remainder un marked” or an indication of what readers and Random House think how much of their investment is recoupable? What did the warehouse sell them to Dollar Tree for?
What do readers want? I can’t speak for all of them, but I damn sure don’t want to shell out a tank’s worth of gas coin, or even tire air coin, for a mediocre book.
Which is why I found it in a cutout bin.
At the dollar store.
Brand spankin’ new.
For a dollar.
Regardless of how wonderful many important, best selling authors are still telling everyone it was.
Don’t get me wrong, it’s pretty clean, mostly goes in a straight line and with the exceptions of being flacid and predictable is a decent, albeit paint by numbers low fat vanilla coffee creamer “gritty crime novel” book. What the hell do you want for a dollar? A keeper?