Monday, August 23, 2010

Publishing cramps my (reading) style

My goal this past weekend was to read as much as possible to make a dent in that pile of library books on my bedside table.  One good thing about being around other people who love books all the time is that you get great suggestions of books to read.  I had a rather long list from the PNWA conference after attending a few classes on YA lit and simply talking to other YA lovers.  So I put them on hold at the library (I'm poor so I refrain from buying books).  My library list has also expanded from list of comparables I request of my writers.  If I haven't read a book on their list (more times than not I haven't even heard of them), I put it on hold and read it first chance I get.

I began six books in the last week.  During the week and early on Saturday I managed to finish two: Tiger by Jeff Stone (children's), and Magic Bites by Ilona Andrews (urban fantasy).  Both I highly recommend.  Then I began two YA: Deerskin by Robin McKinely, and Tender Morsels by Margo Lanagan.  Both novels are written in a style I do not normally pursue.  The stories are lovely however, and the writing beautiful and heart wrenching.  Apparently I'm less prose and more contemporary (take that Herman Melville--I have a love/hate relationship with Herman leaning heavily in the influence of hate).  I began as well a book on tape to listen to while I drive, a romance, which I probably will continue listening to.  And, because I needed something raw, I began Dead until Dark by Charlaine Harris (True Blood), which I plan to finish reading.

Total: two completed, two abandoned, two in process.

My friends have always labeled me as bitter and cynical (I'm a realist), but I'm afraid working in publishing, in which we read dozens of queries, partials, and manuscripts every week (most of them very very very bad) has made me intolerant of even published works.  I used to be the perfect reader.  I was kind, patient, understanding, loving.  If a book didn't catch me in the first fifty, hundred, two hundred pages, I continued reading, making allowances for why it was slow, picking up on the beauty of the words and the intent of the author.  Alas, the world of publishing has destroyed the person I used to be.  No longer will I sit patiently with a book.  I have cast two aside this weekend (I haven't counted the books I have cast aside this summer), I've become extremely critical of the romance genre, and I laugh if the first fifty isn't the best thing I've ever seen.

As to whether my new reading style is a good thing, I'm still in debate over.  I'd love some input on this topic from my lovely readers.  If you are an author, how do you read books?  With an eye in mind for your own style and development?  Do you read at all (you should, for comparables)?  Agents, how do you chose what to read and how often do you find a published novel unsatisfactory?  Others, are you the kind and patient reader we all wish all readers could be?

Hopefully my discriminating eye will help me in the long run find that next best seller.  And hopefully you careful readers will love it.  Happy writing (and reading)!


Heather said...

I'm becoming the same way! Though I don't have to wade through a slush pile like you do. I'm finding that if a book isn't good enough to hold my attention by page 30 then I give up on it. My time could be better spent writing! There was a time when I stuck with a book and really gave it a chance too, but my time is too precious now. Glad to hear I'm not the only one!

Lorenda said...

This happens to me all the time, but I blame it on my Kindle. They have this nifty little "send a sample" option that allows you to read the first few pages before buying the entire book.

This has caused a marked increase in my "screw it" reaction. I imagine the fact that I'm constantly reading or writing my own stuff makes me less friendly and understanding about mistakes/lazy writing in published stuff.

Or maybe I'm just jealous. :)

Unknown said...

Banned complain !! Complaining only causes life and mind become more severe. Enjoy the rhythm of the problems faced. No matter ga life, not a problem not learn, so enjoy it :)

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