Aug 23 2010
There is something about Amazon that brings out the crazy in everyone. First up is some Western author who won some award for the only book he has for sale at Amazon criticizing Susanna Fraser for daring to have a book with the SAME TITLE! I know, egregious isn’t it?
I’m very aware that book titles are not copywriteable, but it’s a pretty dumb idea to use the exact same book title that a better known author has used recently. Do some homework next time, please, for your copycatting here is just going to cause confusion for both of our reader groups. Miles Swarthout
As someone in the comment thread pointed out, it is unlikely historical romance readers are going to look at a Western book with the same name and go, “gosh, is this book about Regency England” and be confused.
The other Amazon dustup is more epic and needs a bit more set up. First, Laurell K Hamilton (I know! we already know it is epic because it involves LKH), writes a blog post wherein she is awesome and everyone else is a faker. The gist of LKH’s post is this. She is a method writer. Her characters are her imaginary friends (and sometimes real people in her life aka her ex husband as Richard). Her characters speak to her. She feels for them. She is empathetic with them (not just sympathetic). When they bleed, she bleeds. Other writers who don’t feel this connection? Just aren’t good enough
Some very successful writers don't seem to feel that emotional connection to their work, or at least not to the degree I do. I used to envy them until I realized the price of that cool distance. They write like they feel with less depth, less of themselves on the page. It is a safer way to write, less frightening, less hurtful, less pain for the writer, but the writing shows that. I can read most other writers and tell you within a few pages which of them "feels" strongly when they write and which do not. Now, some can fake it better than others, but in the end it is a fake. They don't believe in their own work, their own world, their own characters. They know that the skin of let's pretend is there, always, they never let themselves sink past a certain point, or perhaps their world, their muse, their imagination is more shallow than mine. Maybe there are no painful depths to explore and they just spend their careers wading through the shallows because no matter how wide the water looks, it's just a wading pool with no unexpected holes to swallow the writer up, and drown them in the dark water of their own minds.
I'm one of the few writers that routinely calls my characters, imaginary friends
Jennifer Armintrout calls BS.
For an author who strenuously objects (or at least makes a big show of objecting) to being asked if aspects of her writing are influenced by her real life, it takes some major balls to assume that she can know anything about another author’s life from “a few pages”. How arrogant does someone have to be to claim that they can tell whether or not an author has “painful depths” from a few pages of fiction? It’s insulting to authors who do have “painful depths” but keep them private or don’t wish to express them in their work.
Someone brings it over to the Bullet forum on Amazon and thus begins 7 comment pages of wankery. Needless to say that there are a lot of fans who aren’t thrilled with LKH’s work.
LA Times breaks the Mockingjay embargo and posts an early review. The review did its job, though, because now I am interested in buying the book. The review says that
NPR talks about diversity (and lack thereof) in publishing. In tabulating the reviews of the NYTimes, it was noted that of the politically themed books reviewed, 95 percent of US authors reviewed in the publication were white, and 87 percent were male. NPR host, Michel Martin, asked guest Mr. Christopher Lehmann-Haupt, former reviewer and editor of the Times book section and current Editorial Director of Delphinium Books, why this might be:
MARTIN: What do you think about this whole question of the chicken and the egg here? Is it that people of color and women are not writing as many political books? That they have a harder time getting those books published? Or that the review is, the book review is simply isn't choosing those books? What do you think?
Mr. LEHMANN-HAUPT: Well, I think that, again, you have to go a little bit deeper. Publishing has become is going through a real crisis now. The most obvious thing is that the so-called midlist book, the book that isn't going to be a bestseller, isn't being published to the degree that it was, say, in the 1960s, where there was a conscious effort to represent diverse views, races and so forth.
I think it reflects what's being published. Does the book review – I don't know what's being published by smaller presses that might be publishing Latino writers, for example, African-American writers. But the major houses are simply doing less diverse books in every respect because they are aiming for the bestseller list.