19 May 2013

Sitting in a Writer's Chair

I just started City of Bones by Cassandra Clare, the first of The Mortal Instruments series.  I am only about half way through it and I love it already.  Supernatural mysteries, teen angst, budding romance...this one pretty much hits all my enjoyable reading requirements.

While I would recommend the book (especially if you like the House of Night series by Cast &Cast),it mostly serves as the lead in to something I have been thinking about a lot lately.  More and more often when I get a hold of a YA book in this supernatural genre, there is an obligatory review quote from Stephenie Meyer.   Now I appreciate that good reviews are good, and having someone with some best-seller clout praise your book is good marketing, but I wonder how that feels if you are in the writer's shoes.

I will put it out there that I read all the Twilight books, and even saw all the movies due to some morbid fascination, so I certainly don't look down on those who enjoyed Meyer's books.  I also think that regardless of how you feel about the novels themselves, the series provided an opportunity for YA readers to explore the supernatural genre.  These books were perhaps the gateway read for other books in the YA supernatural vein.  However, Meyer is hardly a paragon of amazing writing from either a creative or technical perspective.  With that in mind I wonder how authors feel when the cover of their book features an author endorsement that's only source of credibility is that said author sold a lot of books despite the fact that the books were not so great.

Granted, the publication process is complex, and I imagine that the evolution of covers, descriptions, reviews and quotes often happens as a completely separate process from how the author produces the content.  Not to imply that book marketers don't care about honoring the books (I imagine you can only be in book marketing if you love the hell out of books), but there must be some decisions of this nature that happen purely because they boost the book's cache within a market demographic and not because they reflect the opinions of the most accomplished/respected/prolific writers of the genre.  While the goal of making a living as a writer is just that, to make a living and some marketing is required for that, I do find myself curious how it feels to put your heart and soul into writing a novel and then have your agent be like "we are gonna smack a quote on the cover so you can make some cash from the twi-hards." 

On a personal level I find it somewhat offensive that really great books, books that make Twilight look like drivel, are granting cover space, as in above the title/author listing,  to quotes from Ms. Meyer.  I get why it is done, and I don't begrudge the brilliance of the plan here (I do want to see all these authors do well), but for some reason it bugs me.   Regardless though, check out Cassandra Clare and her YA series.  Good stuff.


Sarah said...

I have read all of Cassandra Clare's books (minus the clockwork series) and really enjoyed them. The last two have gotten a little ho hum, as what often happens to writers around book 5 or 6.

Ginger said...

Yeah, the quotes are usually a marketing/sales thing. The author sometimes has something to do with it (more likely if they are friends/colleagues), but generally it is done through either the author's agent, or the publisher. And it is almost solely based on popularity/name recognition.

Alexis said...

@Ginger- I had a feeling that was the case. While I would assume professionalism prevents most writers from raising too much a fuss (the goal is to sell books, at least on some level), but I do wonder how it feels to have a writer you don't like/respect be a marketing pitch for your art? Granted, those opinions are purely subjective, but none the less, human nature being what it is, I am curious as to how author's perceive this marketing re: a reflection of their art's "worth." Not being anything approximating a "real" writer I am just musing on what it would be like to be in that position...