Before I transitioned into science, I had a fantasy of working in publishing. Reading for a living was a dream-job. I fancied that I would be a good editor. I'd know which manuscripts were good and which ones were garbage. I'd edit, trim the fat, get to the substantial bones of the story. And when that book started selling, I'd know that I had a hand in its success and that would be enough for me. That was my fantasy, anyway. Sounds lovely doesn't it? I love editing. I'm not sure why I didn't pursue that track. I think I just completely forgot about publishing once I got more involved with Chemistry.
But I'm starting to realize that I would have been a rubbish editor anyway. Because it's not about publishing good books; it's about publishing books that sell.
If The Martian had crossed my desk, I would have stopped reading after ten pages and rejected it. Same for Ready Player One. Kids, that's two best-sellers I would have rejected and felt good doing it - right up until I got fired for screwing the company out of all that sweet, sweet money.
I've been seeing a few patterns lately. Books that sell are not just simple, they're almost laughably one-dimensional. They tend to rely on a hook which can be tied to something that's already popular or bordering on the nostalgic. Character development is not used. The rule is tell, don't show.
Maybe it's a symptom of the world we live in now. People have every website, movie, tv-show, video-game, and song....in their pocket. How could a more complex book, like Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep, compete with all that? Who knows how to pay attention anymore? This is why I don't have the internet at my house. I didn't want my brain to turn to the sort of mush that can't even bear to read the books on my own shelves. I don't want my family to be that way either.
I don't think we can stop this. At this rate, we're going to be reading books written in bullet points and Y.A. fiction will read like great literature in comparison.
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