Saturday, July 28, 2007

Hooks, Magic, and Yesterday's Comments

"I hope I don't upset anyone, because that's not my intent. I often wonder why it is I am constantly buying books that bore me to tears... Hook?.... Yeah, you hook a reader, they buy it, only to find disappointment between the covers, and this teaches them to hate reading."
Point (a):
Sales hooks are meant to grab the people who will enjoy a book. Publishers do not aim to suck the money out of people and leave them dissatisfied and irate. It's hard to get repeat business that way.

Point (b):
The fact that this is happening to you should not teach you to hate reading; it should teach you that you need more practice at this "shopping" thing that other people seem so good at.

"...why can't you find and publish books that people (kids) will LOVE."
Point (c):
Holy cow, that never occured to me! Publish books that kids will love? And here we were trying to appeal to farm animals! Seriously, what do you think we're trying to do?

Point (d):
Listen, I'm sorry if we're not succeeding with your son. Honestly. But if you think it's so easy, feel free to write something magical for him yourself. Or find an author who lives up to your expectations. I think you'll find that we're doing our best on both counts. I also have a suspicion that you'll find your expectations are very unusual among readers.

"...Roald Dahl didn't listen to publishers (adults), he listened to the children, his audience, and that genius will live forever because of it. He wasn't about hooks or plots or any other bullsh*t..."
Point (e):
Ok, now you're just pulling my leg. You noticed that Dahl is published, yes? As in, a publisher invested tens of thousands of dollars (or in his case, pounds) in making his work available to members of the fickle and snarky public, like yourself? Publishers don't do that for people who are actively not listening to us.

"He was about magic...why don't you look for magic? It's what the children love...and it's what lives forever. I've never met a kid that said the story was boring but the writing was wonderful..."

Point (f):
And I add this point only because avoiding it is avoiding the whole issue: You're a boob.

21 comments:

Anonymous said...

Whoa -- wait a sec. Remember that were this boob's actual identity revealed, it would cause us to "freak out" and "start editing" his or her posts, so awe-inspiring is this person's body of work. And that can only mean one thing: that you just called my Grade 7 English teacher a marginally bad word, missy!

P.

Anonymous said...

I've got it! It must be Madonna! Somebody famous who needs, to hugely understate the issue, editing!

K.B. said...

Wait... wait... the only reason that a genius like Roald Dahl is published is that he didn't pay any attention to publishers, but rather paid attention to the audience?

And who exactly does the writer think the publishers are paying attention to?

So... is this person saying that publishers stay in business by producing poor books, and ignoring the good ones?

Sorry, but the arguments aren't holding water. Someone has to buy the books and be pleased by them in order for publishers to stay in business. Perhaps the child in question who has been so disappointed by many books is either a very discriminating reader (and budding literary critic), or is a very reluctant reader who is hiding his reluctance under the cover of, "It wasn't a good book."

Joni said...

Holy cow. (shakes head in wonder)

I can only be very impressed by Deirdre's kindly and helpful reponse to someone so obnoxious. Clearly the intent of the comment WAS to upset people -- I mean, come on, call us names and insult our skills, our intelligence, AND our motives? Sure, that's constructive.

Geez. Please go away, Disgruntled Parent, and leave EA's blog to those who get value from it and are trying to create the magic you hold so highly. (You can go watch TV or something. We don't have any such free time because WRITING is what we do in our free time. For nothing. It's basically a volunteer venture, even for those of us who are published. Give us a break, huh?)

Deirdre Mundy said...

Well, I worked in libraries and bookstores for years, so I made my living being patient with people who REALLY REALLY wanted to get mad at me so they could complain to someone about it. =)

Plus, I still DO feel for her son.. it's tough to have a favorite author who dies and then inconsiderately refuses to continue writing! I went through a stage where I felt the same way about Asimov... =)

And I'm a sucker when it comes to recommending children's and YA fantasy...

So be careful about getting me started again... you'll end up with 30,000 pages of "books I love" =)

literaticat said...

I sympathize with the son.

Reading really does suck when you aren't good at it, and then you have to slog through a bunch of stuff you hate.

Plus, most books are stupid. Particularly most of the ones that he encounters in school.

His mom needs to get him the WICKED HISTORY OF THE WORLD. Then she needs to take a valium.

Patrick Samphire said...

Of course, Roald Dahl hated children. Maybe that's the key...

Deirdre Mundy said...

He didn't hate his OWN children.... and reading the things he wrote just for them, it seems that really EVERYTHING he wrote was for his own kids....

Back to the whole kids being people too, and the not being able to write something "for the children" anymore than to write something "for the adults."

Which is why it's better to write something that you, or someone you know, would want to read.... At least then you know you have SOME audience for it! =)

Sheila said...

Actually, I read a biography of Roald Dahl which indicated the opposite: he DID listen to his publisher (although I think he hated it) and that had a lot to do with his books' success. Apparently his editor helped to shape them into the books that we know and love today, and if I remember right, in one case the whole second half of the book (sorry, I don't remember which one) was changed at the editor's suggestion.

Anonymous said...

He did hate Jews, though. On the other hand, his daughter Ophelia is cool. I think she still helps run Partners in Health, which does amazing work in Haiti.

Anonymous said...

I sympathize with the son, too. And I can't say that I've been overwhelmed by how great marketing departments at publishing companies are. I base this judgment on the many awful covers that seem to have nothing to do with the book's contents.

How ARE kids whose parents don't read and who are assigned really boring books in school supposed to find out about the good ones?

Deirdre Mundy said...

From friends who read. And librarians....

But if the parents don't read, and the kid doesn't read, what are the odds that they have friends who read? Or that they hang around the library enough to feel comfortable talking to that scary lady behind the children's desk?

Anonymous said...

You people are a riot! I've sold over 50 million books (this is hardcover; had a hit movie, etc, etc), and you're going to tell me that I'm a boob. It's easy shelling out a bunch of crap advice to the unpublished. People: write a book kids will love and you will find your way, end of story.

Anonymous said...

Wow, according to this list of best selling books and narrowing it down to living authors, you must be either Ms. Rowling herself, or Dr. Spock -- wait, isn't he dead as well? I'm pretty sure he never had a hit movie.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_best-selling_books

You are not only a boob, but a towering tit of the first order.

Anonymous said...

My bad, that was a single volume or Rowling. Still, my math on your titness is fully accurate.

Anonymous said...

The 50 mill is worldwide; about 21 mill in the U.S. The film grossed apprx. $200 mill (but still hasn't made a profit *snort*). Yes, I am a tit...and believe it or not, the Goosebumps series has out sold Harry Potter; Rowlings just gets all the press. Actually, there are many books that have out sold Harry Potter; I of course have not written any of them. Also, my numbers are for a series of books, not a single volume. I've upset you folks and that truly wasn't my intent. The editor shelling out advice is obviously an assistant, and I'm tell you to be leery of what she/he tells you. You can do everything perfectly (following all her/his advice) but if your books don't sell...well, you can hang it up. You have to become a character these days. Look, take your advice where you want to...but all this talking about writing is not beneficial to you. WRITE A BOOK KIDS LOVE AND EVERYTHING ELSE WILL FOLLOW. And you can call me everything in the book; I have elephant skin. You have to in this business, especially when you sell a lot of books, because the fangs come out in the nicest of people.

Editorial Anonymous said...

Dear Successful Author,
I'm happy for your success. But suggesting
(a) that creating books that children will love is NOT our prime objective... is boobitude.
or (b) that creating books that children will love is the ONLY thing anyone needs to consider in the publishing process... is boobitude.
Yours truly,
Editorial Anonymous

Anonymous said...

Following this person's example, I'm going to stick my head into some blog about the business of retail selling (if such a sad thing exists) and patronizingly tell the participants to only stock things that sell, end of story.

Then I'll enjoy the ass-kissing that follows when I conveniently drop how I own a chain of stores worth ten billion dollars.

But what do I know: I'm an author with sales of less than 50 million.

Anonymous said...

Dear EA,

You are an assistant. This I can tell. You need to tell these people upfront what your qualifications are. You are offering advice to wannabe writers and a lot of the advice you offer is silly. Please give me the numbers of the bestselling book you discovered and edited. Just the numbers, and be honest. Quit offering advice as though you are an expert. You open mail and you make perhaps $30k a year and you call sucessful authors boobs. And here's the awful truth: It's writers like me who produce the funds that pays your salary and the advances you pay out for works that are well written yet boring and don't make money. And one more thing: The sun is male. :-) Anyway, I was trying to help, but that obviously didn't work. I'm best alone in a room. I've never done well with people. Kids, yes. Adults, never. Anyway, I'll leave you folks alone now. No more posts...

Anonymous said...

I love the way EA didn't even acknowledge her credentials being questioned. This is what people do when are secure and have nothing to prove anyone, much less anonymous strangers.

People who are insecure, talentless trolls however are quick to tell tall tales about themselves in order to buff up their lame powers of argumentation.

This whole useless "write books kids love" advice is laughable and not building a very convincing case for a publishing heavyweight. What is the supposed best-selling series about then? Stating the obvious to the completely disinterested? I didn't realize something like that would sell so well.

Editorial Anonymous said...

This has gotten acrimonious, and I wish it had not. Anonymous, I'm surprised you trust me to report my books' sales, when you're implying I've been lying to my readership. If you're willing to believe me, I do edit and I do acquire, and I don't open the mail.

I'm more than willing to talk about which pieces of advice you feel are "silly," or to drop this, as you like.