Only one more day in my countdown to Christmas. Today I must actually visit some stores and make some purchases for the people in my life (yes I know... I should have started weeks ago, but it is hard when there is powder to ski and words to write). On the blog today we have Cate Pedersen with a story about a Christmas Mystery Man. In my penultimate rant about things that need to change in the indie world, I am going to touch on something more controversial perhaps... those writers who become breakout successes on Amazon who are not great writers.
Please do not think that this post is about sour grapes. It isn't (I wouldn't do that two days before Christmas). It is more about me being utterly confused sometimes at what somehow at some moment in time decides to fly up the Amazon charts. I read a lot of books, and I'm not a particularly discriminating reader. I will read literary fiction, genre fiction, and everything in between. I can even appreciate indie books that contain a multitude of errors if I connect with the characters or become involved in the story line. Although I appreciate the qualities that traditional books often bring to bear (more refined prose, tighter editing), I do not always think they are better than indie books. I also think many of the indie writers who sit at the top of the charts have totally earned it with great writing, characters, and plots.
However there are some books that seem to fly up the charts and stick that just are not great, or even good (in my perhaps incorrect opinion). But the reviews often bear out my opinion, with people stating upfront that they don't understand why the book has received so many other earlier good reviews. I can't help but think some of these authors are gaming the system somehow, or just got really lucky. I notice that some of them are the ones who have the balls to basically state that they are really great in their marketing material. And if something gets up beyond a certain rank on Amazon, it develops a momentum of its own and it sticks there.
I don't even know what I think needs to change on this front, because I don't want the system to become so locked down that writers don't have a chance to have a breakout success. I appreciate that these writers may have worked just as hard as any other indie writer, and my dislike of their book may be just a matter of personal taste (obviously millions of people saw a shining gem in Fifty Shades of Grey, and millions of people can't be wrong, can they?). In the indie world, and in the writing world in general, we are very loathe to diss another writer's writing, because everyone knows everyone, and our own writing is so very vulnerable if we do. So we are often supremely uncritical of each others' work, which makes the indie world a very supportive place, but perhaps not a place where our writing improves.
All right, enough said, my hope for 2016 is that I will start to understand better the appeal of certain books and have more balls in my own marketing material, which you know as a deprecating Canadian is a challenge. My family has pointed out that the tagline "you probably won't like it" that I attach to many of the dinners I serve (even though I think I'm a pretty darn good cook) probably wouldn't be that effective for my books...
Cate Pedersen is a freelance writer, editor and social media manager. She recently published her first novel and is working on books two and three in the Sister Spirit Series. She is also a contributor in It’s Really 10 Months: Special Delivery, an anthology of birth stories (Special Xmas Sale NOW on Amazon) and an upcoming anthology: Adventures in Potty Training. Cate’s children are now almost grown, so Christmas is not quite as busy, but will always hold a magical place in her heart. Read her “12 Blogs of Christmas” post to find out why!
My Christmas Mystery Man
There is certain magic I experience right at midnight on Christmas Eve. The entire world seems to pause and the air is different somehow. I relax completely, despite the recent whirlwind of activity over the past few days and the maelstrom which is to come Christmas morning and continue until New Year. My spine tingles with anticipation as the hour and minute hands join; I almost want to cheer, “It’s here, it’s here!” I look forward to it every year. I cannot recall ever going to bed earlier than midnight on that auspicious night— especially as a child, waiting up for sounds of bells and scraping hooves on the roof.
When my son and daughter were young, it was the same performance each Christmas Eve; I knew my cues perfectly and waited until I heard regular breathing through my daughter’s bedroom door. She was always last to fall asleep. Her father had been the first. I collect the presents hidden under my bed, in closets, above bookcases and wedged between storage containers. I tiptoe towards the tree with an armful of brightly papered boxes with colour-coordinated bows (and extra tape) . . . then freeze as the ball of my foot puts pressure on that part of the floor that squeaks. I imagine the cracking of wood sending shudders through the hall, and under the beds of my sleeping children, jarring them awake . . . Read more