Friday, February 10, 2012

Worst Book Ever?

I don't know what to think of this. I'm partially amused. Partially horrified. A tad annoyed. And a little confused.

All this is prompted by a post on the Publishers Weekly blog, titled The Worst Book Ever is "Moon People". If you have some brain cells that need killing, go take a look.



Blogger Bryan Russell said...

Oh, yeah, I'm completely ambivalent about that. I mean, it's pretty damn funny, and yet it's rather cruel, too. Especially considering this is in Publishers Weekly, which is the bastion of the traditional publishing world, and it's tearing down a self-pubbed book. A bit of a modern publishing class struggle here: Keep the peasants down! And yeah, the poor guy can't write, but he probably didn't deserve such a takedown (particularly as he's not exactly alone in the world of poor online fiction writing). At least the previous microwave cookbook was traditionally published, and its review was as much a sort of humourous cultural critique of times past than a pure book review.

So, yeah, I hear you. A rather ambivalent feeling: laughing in a horrified way.

10:02 AM  
Blogger David Anthony Durham said...


Part of my confusion, frankly, is that I'm not sure who is really making fun of who. The writing in the book seems so poor it's hard for me not to think that it's intentional. I mean, I couldn't write sentences that bizarre even if I tried! Is the author clueless? Or is an evil mastermind?...

10:14 AM  
Blogger Bryan Russell said...

As my day job is as an editor, I'd say the sentences aren't intentional... sadly.

10:31 AM  
Blogger David Anthony Durham said...

That should have been: "Or is HE and evil mastermind?..."

Yikes. Just reading excerpts from that book has caused irreparable harm!

11:27 AM  
Blogger David Anthony Durham said...

I mean: "Or is HE AN evil mastermind?..."

I may need to give up on writing now.

11:28 AM  
Blogger Bryan Russell said...

You just need a stenographer, is all.

11:57 AM  
Blogger Dan said...

Shouldn't Publishers Weekly be, I don't know, kind of a paragon of the literary world? I mean, if an established writer had published that, I could see them talking about it. But so what if it's written poorly? Is there really a reason for one of the most respected literary publications to tear down someone with absolutely no footprint in the literary world? That's like Usain Bolt challenging Melissa McCarthy to a footrace, then mocking her for not winning.

8:27 PM  
Blogger David Anthony Durham said...

Well, yes... this post is on the PW blog, though. So it's affiliated with the magazine, but has its own content - presumably as chosen by the contributors.

I agree that I don't particularly care for making fun of anyone that doesn't deserve it. Some could argue that when you PUBLISH something you're putting it in the public sphere and have to take the knocks that come with that. Actually... not just "some" would argue. I would argue that. If you don't want people to talk - including negatively - about your work, don't make it available to the public. But still, that said, I'm not personally inclined to harsh on people. The time spent doing that is better spent spreading the word about books/authors I do like.

That said, I'm not sure that your analogy is quite right. By self-publishing and promoting works on Amazon as great and terrific and worthy of buying, those writers are saying they deserve to occupy the same place - be in the same race - as "professionals". So, to me it's more like Melissa McCarthy chosing to enter the same race as Usain Bolt... and then being shocked by the outcome.

That's not a perfect analogy either, I know.

Not that this article discusses this that much, but I do think there's a larger issue it's touching on - the coming inundation of self-published books available in ebook form. It'll make for some self-published stars, but it'll also mean many, many books are offered to the public that are awful.

Personally, I'm not that worried about this. There will be a readjustment in which people browsing Amazon come to be buried under possible book choices - and that, I reckon, will move them back toward getting reviews and recommendations from sources they trust. It'll make it clearer to folks that not all writing should be cheap or free - not if you want the writers to be able to put the full time in to create works that are valuable to you.

No problem. We're in a period of pretty big adjustment, though.

3:50 AM  
Blogger Dan said...

David, completely agree with you, especially about my analogy. And definitely about the cheap and free books, though I do think there are merits to a first-time author trying to get his name out there.

6:59 PM  

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