Simply because I can’t think of a better topic, I’m going to vent about the top ten [current] things that make me crazy. Editorially and authorially (is that a word?) speaking, that is. The top ten things that drive me crazy personally are better left to a good therapist.
1. I hate it when good books—I mean really good books don’t sell. I won’t name names, but some of the best authors I know have lesser sales (in some cases far lesser) than mediocre writers. At times like this, I want to throttle the entire book-buying public.
2. I hate it when writers with potential won’t listen to good advice. When I say “with potential,” that means they’re not yet good writers, but might be if they would work on their craft. But no, these writers I’m talking about think their writing is just fine and that it’s my poor editorial judgment that’s a stumbling block to their career. Don’t let this person be you. No matter what your present status as a writer, GET BETTER with every book and every proposal.
3. I hate it when I start to read a fiction manuscript and in the opening lines I’m subjected to a weather report (“The gray skies hung over the city like a dull blanket”) or a geography lesson (“The land was rocky and barren, punctuated here and there with small hills of red earth”). Okay, I realize sometimes it can work—but not often. Start with a person. Hopefully the main character.
4. I hate it when someone mentions “branding.” Even though I understand why it’s important for a writer to develop a “brand” and cultivate a “tribe” of followers, I think it can be very limiting to creativity.
5. I hate that it takes so long to get an answer from a publisher or agent. Yes, I know. I’m an offender here. Manuscripts and proposals sit begging for attention while I’m busy editing manuscripts on their way to production. As an editor, I understand, but as a writer, I wish my writing would always flow to the top of the pile.
6. I hate it when life crowds in so much that I can’t find time to write. I really do love to write (when I have something to say), but 24 hours in a day isn’t enough!
7. I hate it when I have a full blown idea for a book in my head and it doesn’t come out right on paper. The manuscript in my head is worthy of a Christy, but the finished product is worthy only of the recycle bin.
8. I hate it when a fiction manuscript is peopled with stereotypes. I meet the same characters over and over. In one manuscript her name is Megan and she’s a flight attendant and in the next manuscript (by a different author) her name is Heather and she’s a PI. Both women, alas, need personality transplants. They’re way too generic. So are the men. Garrett may be a lawyer or he may be a fireman named Lance, but it’s basically the same guy. Give me someone with a distinct personality please.
9. I hate it that memoir and autobiographies don’t sell well in our market. A few decades ago we had the likes of The Hiding Place, God’s Smuggler, The Cross and the Switchblade, Joni, and Run Baby Run. This genre does well in the ABA market. I wish it would transfer to our CBA market. Occasionally one sneaks through. I’ve been astonished and delighted at the huge success of Eric Metaxas’s Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy.
10. Finally, I hate it that more of the good books by CBA publishers don’t “crossover” into the ABA market. Sure, some do. But not many. Right now on Amazon’s top 100 there are only two books by CBA publishers. Two! I check almost weekly and usually there are about five, so two is a new low. Such a shame. We have fiction that certainly rivals ABA fiction. And goodness knows we have life-changing non-fiction that belongs high on the list. I’m glad to report that not too many weeks ago the Bonhoeffer book was well within the top 100.
Well, okay. Rant over…for now.
I’m sure I’ll find something more to grouse about in the future. Or I might even blog “I LOVE it when that happens.”