Hello and welcome to newsletter number 22.
I’m not a hundred percent sure what I’ve achieved this week. Yes, I read some books, I hosted authors on my blog, I wrote more of Blood is Power and sorted out a massive tangle I created all by myself by insisting on showing action occurring over three different time zones (a total time difference of 13 hours!). Don’t do it. Ever. It is so confusing! I only managed to sort it out using a spreadsheet. And once sorted, I had to re-sequence half the damn book! Never again.
Do you remember my gripe about the poor quality traditionally-published books I had the misfortune to waste my time on? Ok, so I’m a glutton for punishment. Bite me! (Actually, don’t! It’s unhygienic.)
A couple of months ago I downloaded a free book from Amazon UK. I didn’t stop to think about it. On the cover I saw the name of a well-known British comedienne, Miranda Hart, and that of what, in their own words, is “the UK’s leading and most diversified trade publishing group”. Could I ‘look inside’ before I downloaded the book? Yes, I could. Did I? No. Why would I? This was a major publisher and an author whose name I knew… well, on the TV screen I did!
Here it is, in case you’re curious:
and you can view it (I would not recommend buying it) here.
Turns out the whole book is nothing but a collection of tweets from the general public, mostly describing embarrassing experiences – such as:
“Nika @Agnieszka72 – I was trying to walk under the table on all fours and I stood up too quickly with the table (and everything on it) on my back.”
“Shaun Hardie @Shaungpz900ra7 – I once slapped my (now ex-) wife’s behind, only to find it belonged to a complete stranger. EEEEEKS!!!”
You get the gist.
This went on FOR AN ENTIRE BOOK!
Now, don’t get me wrong. I LOVE Miranda. I think she’s the most talented of the fresh bunch of ‘funny guys’ on the British TV. Honestly. Her style is so proper-Brit and her observation skills see right through the Britishness. She is FUNNY. No question about that.
So what went wrong with the book? This wasn’t something I would have expected Miranda to push out. She seemed a nice person with high ethical standards.
And then the penny dropped. Miranda was due to release a book – with the above-featured publisher. Nice and traditional and good-quality, of course. But she didn’t have a name on the publishing side of life, so this first ‘pre-book’ was designed to raise awareness of her name. It was nothing more than a marketing stunt. A pathetic one at that. Because the first thing that went through my mind was ‘Dear God, I hope her book is actually a book. I don’t want to lose my faith in her, too. I like Miranda’.
Fast forward a few weeks and Miranda’s book is out. The publisher made the first chapter free to download. Burnt by the first experience, I was grateful for that. No way was I going to pay for something – even from a traditional publisher – without testing it first.
And my rating for this one chapter is through the floor and way into the ancient bedrock.
Miranda is funny. Her writing style is not. The stupid part is that I could imagine her speaking those words on a stage or in a TV studio. But written down it just doesn’t work (check it out here).
I’m disappointed, and most of all, I feel as deflated as my ‘Miranda is wonderful’ balloon. In my eyes, she’s dropped, and that happened because of her association with said publisher. Bad career move. If she’d stuck with stand-up, her balloon would still be flying high.
*wipes tear and moves on*
And then I picked up a paperback – again published by a traditional publisher: Piatkus, part of Little, Brown UK. As part of a large publisher, they have the resources to push out a well-edited book, right? One that does not include simple errors, such as this: “You’re father, Darius, was a worthy male.”
I loved the book, I loved the style, I HATED being interrupted by bad grammar, especially since this book came from a traditional publisher – and only in paperback, no e-copy in the UK! – a publisher with a whole truckload of damn resources! Little Brown do not have the budget limitations of a self-published author. Get it sorted, guys!
If I had the time, I’d offer to proof the book for them.
Add to this the fallout between Simon & Schuster and Barnes & Noble (read) which is causing their authors lost revenue, and then Penguin and Author Solutions being sued for deceptive practices (read) and suddenly you wonder why on earth would anyone want to traditionally publish anything at all.
Maybe I just need an explanation from someone in the know.