So, I’ve had this rant building for about two weeks now, ever since Rob shared this news story with me. Initially, I was too angry to coherently express my opinion on this matter beyond the garbled raging that you can see represented in the title of this post. I think I’ve calmed down now (a bit), and I’m ready to comment.
Please read the news article, and then come back.
Good. Here goes. Please be warned, there are a few more swearwords in this post than I normally would use.
Aarrgghh, this is still difficult to formulate into words. Despite what you may read, Richard and Judy’s Book Club is NOT a good thing for authors. Okay, let my rephrase – it is an INCREDIBLE thing, for a very few select authors. When I was studying my Creative Writing Masters, we looked at the bestsellers list for that year (which would have been 2007). Unfortunately, I can’t find it (either in my room or online) because I wish I could share it with you. Taking the top ten, there were several Harry Potter books (of course), Angels and Demons (of course), and the rest of the top ten was pretty much taken up with books taken from that years Richard and Judy Book Club.
The selling figures for these books were astronomical, and dwarfed those of all the books below them. This is patently ridiculous – Richard and Judy say that these books are awesome, so EVERYONE goes out and buys them?! Why so many people put their faith in these two people is beyond me. It just shifts the balance even more for the types of books that end up in Richard and Judy’s Book Club (for there isn’t much variety here) – authors who write about anything different now have an even bigger challenge in getting their works published and, even if they do, a harder job convincing anyone to read them.
Besides, why do people need someone like Richard and Judy to tell them what to read? I’m not saying you shouldn’t listen to any recommendations, that’s absurd, but there is SO much literature out there to chose from – the vast majority of it a lot better than the books that become best sellers. The books that you might have to look a little harder for, experiment with, take a chance, browse your bookstore and find something new. It will more than likely be better written, more interesting, push more boundries, make you feel more emotions.
But putting the Book Club aside, what has REALLY fucked me off here is the news story itself. The poor struggling author (newsflash from the No-Shit Sherlock newsdesk: MOST of us authors are poor and struggling) hands Richard Madeley her manuscript, he reads it, likes it, writes a review, which gets her a book deal.
This. Should. Not. Happen!
This is like the “celebrities” that we have now who are famous for being famous. Or, more specifically, because they know someone famous. And these celebrities get book deals now too, being published is the in thing. Katie Price and her biography about all that is vacuous and shallow and disgusting. Apparently she’s got a novel out now too, I think I saw on the shelves the other day. I couldn’t be sure. I turned away as quick as I could for fear of my eyes being burnt out. Had I opened it no doubt my face would have melted like in the climactic scene from Raiders of the Lost Ark.
The publishing industry is ridiculously unfair, and Richard and Judy’s Book Club (and this latest “find” by Madeley) is a big, fat, prime example of that unfairness. That one man (for if anyone has power/sense in that couple, it’s Madelely, fuckhead that he is) has come to wield that much power, when he isn’t even involved in the publishing industry, it’s just plain wrong. He has become, in Rob’s words, like the gesticulating Rupert Murdoch of the book world.
Perhaps I’m getting angry at the wrong people. If anything, the REALLY fucking annoying thing here is that one author was able to bypass the stressful, frustrating and often soul-crushing rigmarole of submissions and rejections before being awarded, on her own merits, some sort of publishing deal. I know, like I just said, the publishing industry is unfair. But this takes the fucking cake.
I’m not sure whether my opinion on whether or not this author’s book is any good or not should matter in this debate, but here it is anyway. I bet her book is shit. It is, in her words, “…loosely based on my own experience of dropping out of the rat race and running away from London on a whim to Cornwall.”
C’mon. Hardly sounds original, does it? Or even interesting. To me it sounds like most of the books of this type, of the kind of bestsellers marketed at the middle-aged woman/housewife audience, the kind of books that always end up on the Richard and Judy Book Club list. All these kinds of books are the same, and they’re all shit. Of course, that’s a monstrously big generalisation, but it’s how I feel. (See how mad this whole thing makes me? It’s making me use horrible, unwieldy adverbs like “monstrously”…)
I know, I know. I hold up my hands here… I sound bitter, don’t I? It’s bloody hard not too. I can hear it in my own head as I write these words. It’s a horrible feeling, and I don’t like writing this. Maybe I am bitter. I have to accept that the publishing industry is incredibly unfair, and a difficult one to break into. I do accept that. But Richard Madeley, one man, should not have this much say in what gets published. Plus he’s a smarmy, self-congratulatory twat.