Amanda Gayle (amandagayle) wrote,
Amanda Gayle

Oh [sigh] books. (A tangental rant within a rant with appendix ~ a busted appendix.)

So, I read "Game of Thrones." Just the first book, which is actually just called that. The series is called something about fire and ice, but the television series is named after the first book, which is confusing. I started to read the second book, and then stopped.
I wasn't intending to read the first book. Or, maybe I was. It hadn't occurred to me to do anything but put it on my Curious About list, not even my To Be Read list, even when Lindsey said she was addicted to the HBO show, until Mikey said it was bad. Actually, what he said was, "I read A Game of Thrones and became disgusted with the act of writing for a time. Well, that's probably way harsher than I mean it to be, but it is true. After I finished that book a couple of months ago, I haven't touched another book since. The way he writes, the way he structures his books, his characterization, and his massive popularity all combined to make a foul-tasting slurry that served as a most efficacious Mike-repellent."
Elegantly put, if a bit loquacious.
Anyway, I wouldn't have even considered it reading it ~ wasn't, even after watching the season finale of season two ~ if Mike hadn't said that. Such foul censure inspires a certain sort of curiousity, you know, the same kind where someone says "Oh, don't look! there's a dead motorcyclist on the road!" and of course, everyone does.
Anyway, Mike and I have different views about a lot of things, but I may know where he's coming from on that. I mean, like I said, I got maybe a bit through the second chapter before I stopped reading the second book. And I couldn't exactly say why, except that's what I'm trying to do here in this journal entry apparently.
All this brings me to mind of an entry I wrote a while back, lamenting the flood of books in the world, spurred on at the time by a quote I ran into in Time Magazine ( ), 'On the sustainabillity of the publishing industry, in the CHICAGO TRIBUNE; 5.26.10: "I think that book publishing is about to slide into the sea. We live in a literate time, and our children are writing up a storm, often combining letters and numerals (UR 2 1derful)... the future of publishing: 18million authors in America, each with an average of 14 readers, eight of whom are blood relatives. Average annual earnings: $1.75." ~ Garrison Keillor
I think I even knew at the time he was being bitter...or maybe not? There was absolutely no context with that quote. But regardless of whether he was, my agreement with him WAS ~ the tone of it and the motivation behind it. My views have morphed some since.

I was reading a sample of a kindle book that was (supposedly) written by a seventeen year old (or three of them ~ the author was listed as three different people). I read the reviews (which is how I found out about the 17 year old bit, shopping from your kindle it doesn't give you much info) but all the reviews said it was written by a seventeen year old, and they COULDN'T BELIEVE HOW GOOD IT WAS (as soon as I smoke a cigarette, and my browser is done deleting its history, imma look it up. Damn, I gotta take the dogs out with me. Oh well). However, there were a few two and one star reviews scattered among the five, stating it was over vocabularated, and read like a high school english project. So, I read a couple chapters (free sample) and couldn't even get through the prologue (which wasn't actually a prologue. It was a first chapter). It wasn't the vocabulary. I could've made due with four syllable words. Highschoolers do talk like that ~ some of them. It was the pacing. And the fact people don't use four syllable words in that context. Not all of them anyway. And certainly not unsavory criminals. I just wanted to tell those poor boys "Ok, you're obviously not stupid. Maybe you even have some great story ideas. Don't give up, just keep writing. After you write several million words, and several dozen stories, or a few books, you'll totally be ready to put something out there. But YOU'RE NOT READY YET. THIS IS NOT GOOD. AT ALL." Obviously, the copious 5 star reviews were written by friends, family and idiots. (Maybe there's a possibility the book got better after the first page of chapter one, but I couldn't do it. COULDN'T. MAYBE if it was a friend, or a friend of a friend, but I have a hard time reading stuff that bad even then.)
(Ok, just got on amazon on the puter, and from his bio ~ I don't know why there are three people credited as authors, but if they're shadow writers, or whatever those are called, they did an AWFUL JOB [edit, one was a copy editor and one was a layout editor] ~ but from his bio he obviously thinks highly of himself, though falsely humble he attempts to be ~ and probably wouldn't listen to me if I tried. Though, I can't say at 17 I would've listened to me either. I had an over inflated sense of my own talent till roughly...well, so I still have blind spots, obv. I'm especially arrogant about my punctuation, as is constantly pointed out to me whenever I'm in error.)
When I first encountered epublishing, indie authors and the like, I thought, "this is a really good idea."
For a while, spring of 2011, there was buzz about Amanda Hocking, self published e p...self e publisher? Whatever...who made it big. Or whatever big is in that context. I just remember it was right after I'd discovered that sort of thing and I'd read a few of her books. "Oh, I know her!" From what I can tell, partly from the rate of publication and partly from things I gathered here and there, like me, she'd developed a backlog of books and pretty much flooded them out there (one at a time, but in rapid succession). Anyway, I had the benefit of reading her first book before all the hype. Not bad, not excellent. Frankly, a Twilight ripoff. (Or, if she wrote it before hand, she definitely got shafted there.) Her second series was about trolls though, so...
I'm tangenting off my tangent. I swear I've got a point. Or a blunt object...
Holy SHIT puppies, shut up! It's one a.m., everyone's asleep, and the dogs inherited my unfortunate vampiristic tendencies, speaking of Twilight. Which I've read, and I'm not ashamed of it.
Which leads me to admit I've read a lot of things a lot of people say are pretty horrible. I read Twilight ~ twice. I read romance ~ well, I've grown out of that mostly, I keep trying when I want something mindless and it's just way too mindless ~ I read BAD fantasy. I am most certainly not a snob. My perception of adequate, I've been told, is sadly off base. And a lot of these self published e books are fine with me. They're .99 cents, they're right there ~ don' have to drive to get 'em ~ and I go through them like candy. Not terribly nourishing, light, fluffy, and occasionally give me a literary tummy ache. On the other hand, I've got to point out, a lot of stuff I've picked up at the library over the years, or in bookstores, was no different. Sure, the editing was better in the paper versions, but fuck, these self e pub'ers have to pay their own editors, or just be damn good off the bat themselves, and almost no one's that good, if anyone. Everyone can use an extra set of eyes or five to go over something one to ten times. If it's truly atrocious I will put a book down ~ for the same reason if it's slightly atrocious in a print version I'll put it down (hola book, you come from a publishing house, I paid eight american dollars for something professional. You, ebook, you're all right. I paid one dollar for you and I expect slight atrociousness. Heinous misplacement of apostrophes and misuse of words however are not allowed ~ Ok, forget I started to bracket that with parentheses. I'm meandering around to what I wanted to say. The Biggest Downfall of self publishing is people do it when they're no where near ready to. They're so excited just to get something out there, time wasn't spent on an editor. I've bought self pub'd ebooks with a disclaimer attached that the book I'm buying is the newly edited version, and if I'd previously bought the old error-riddled one that copy should've been automatically replaced on my devicee and yada blah blah. Curious, I researched one such author via her blog and replies to early comments on the amazon site and she freely admitted she'd just been so excited to share her book she just HAD to get it out there, and she's sure her loyal readers forgive her and blah blah blah.
Well, you know I bought the book. It was $.99! I was bored! I was in the mood for YA forgetfulness! (This is why, of course, these people write this drivel in the first place. Or, there's some Stephenie Meyer-driven delusion of fame to be had quick, so I guess dillusion ~ disillusion? I need to get more sleep ~ abounds.) And lo and behold, the edited version still made my fingers itch for a red pen. Should've known. I wanted to write to her and say since I was stuck in the North Country doing nothing I'd be entirely willing to edit her editor's edits for a nominal fee (chocolate?).
So, I'm torn. Is e-pub, to be crude, luring writers to go out and get their publishing cherry popped way before they're ready? In many cases, hell yeah. On the other hand, would these authors ever have a chance to form any sort of audience otherwise? Noope. In many cases, not.
There's also the been-there before aspect. I was looking up agents and publishing houses back when I was working at Ramadinn. A lot of them were trolling for specific types of writing. For adult fiction, only lit fic ~ serious lit fic ~ would do. Even for the idie pub houses, you had to have an agent already. YA fic? If it's paranormal, bring it on. They'd take anything, and from random, cursory glances at the market since, even as recent as a couple months ago, that hasn't changed much. Nearly every self-pub'd indie I've stumbled upon is either YA paranormal or romance or a combo of the two. (This could be, however, because of what I read on amazon. The only other thing I look for on there is Sci Fi, and a lot of my favorite authors out there are either out of print, or go through small publishing houses that offer their e-books on their own websites for significantly lower that the large publishing houses, who understand that ...oh, man, this is a whole other argument. Some other journal entry. Or, I could just link myself blog posts by Cecelia Tan and/or Eric Flint or any number of others and save myself the trouble). (This tangent is officially irrecoverable.)
Anyway, I used to wonder, when I was younger, if we were (as a society in whole, as a society of readers, as a society of capitalists ~ is capitalist the right word? my brain kept saying communist. I was struggling. I swear my eyes aren't drooping, not a yawn has escapted, but I can't FUCKING THINK. I'VE BROKEN MY BRAIN IN THE NORTH COUNTRY!) over flooding the market with books. You're going to sacrifice quality when you favor quantity, almost always. And do you know how many books are published a year? A fuckton. I think I looked up the numbers in that journal rant from over two years ago in which I quoted Garrison Keillor, or whatever the hell his name is. The Ketchup Society dude. On the other hand, It Can't Be Avoided. Until we all inflate so hugely we collapse, not unlike the stupid romans, all markets will be Innundated.
The great thing about self e-pubin' is, for instance, publishers are only taking certain things. When you publish yourself, you can publish WHATEVER THE FUCK YOU WANT (regardless of whether you can get people to read it).
Not that I'm saying I'd do it. It sounds like a lot of fucking work to me. Reading Game of Thrones took up enough of my time.

This SORT OF brings me back to where I started. When the market is so flooded, a lot of people are looking for the same, or something like it. One thing I actually paid money on kindle for (before I found out Lindsey'd pirated 'em) was the Hunger Games series. Every time I logged on for a month after, amazon would suggest books "like the Hunger Games." People buy them, of course.

The Game of Thrones isn't all that different than a lot of fantasy books out there. It's a lot more obvious than many of them, not as original as most, so why the fucking hell is it so popular?
TV is a clever girl. More specifically, HBO is a clever girl. People liked the Hunger Games because it was "like" Harry Potter and Twilight in that it took place in an alternate universe ~ a fantasy universe, where anything can happen, exciting dangerous things, and everything turns out all happy "in spite of all the danger" (to hum a song the Beatles covered once upon a time). (People were so pissed when they found out the Hunger Games trilogy ended realistically. Yeah, the main characters lived ~ most of them ~ but sure as hell not off into the sunset, happily ever after. I loved the ending of that trilogy. It made SENSE.)
Game of Thrones is "like" those franchises in that way too, in that it takes you out of this world. However, this world is an Adult World. You don't have to feel guilty about liking it, because there are adult things in it, like murder and betrayal and incest [shocking! it's meant to shock us, and yet disguised as non-chalance, because it's "traditional" in some clans, or whatever] and stuff (never mind these are all cheap plot devices stolen, as far as I can tell, largely from Aurthurian fan fic ~ and yes, isn't that some of the first and longest running fan fic ever? And never mind there've been tons of midieval TV series, including Camelot-based ones, Game of Thrones is HBO.) ~ all the heinous things people will do for power. PLUS, there's dragons. And they're so cute all through the second season. But fierce. You can tell they're gonna be fierce.
Lord of the Rings was an epic fantasy, but Game of Thrones is a soap opera disguised as epic fantasy. Writing it all out, I'm beginning to see why I don't want to continue reading, and why Mike was so disgusted. BUT I know why people like it. They can identify (there's an internet meme comparing all the warring factors with current leaders and politcos of today). Larger Audiences can grasp the idea of a great good fighting a great evil (ever been to church?) but after you get past the fancy costumes and fantasy-world concepts, it's not all that interesting (ever been to church?). Game of Thrones is purposely dirty. It's not all that well written ~ I mean, it's FUNCTIONALLY written, which is all I look for in a book these days, writing wise. The plot's engrossing, if you like Days of Our Lives. But this George rrrrr Martin (grrrr) has SEVEN of these things planned out. As far as I can tell from the reviews, many of the pivotal characters from the first book are killed off by the third and fourth books, and replaced with new characters. How is that NOT All My Children-esque?
I guess what I'm saying is I don't think the first book is awful. I breezed through it fairly quickly, and was fully absorbed the whole time. It was when I realized what it was to become ~ what he started in the first book could've been wrapped up in a trilogy, if not a duology. SEVEN BOOKS?
I suppose that's why I buy self-published e books. It's totally not fair that this guy can make tons of a fantasy saga that promises to grow suckier with each novel, when there might be someone who legitimately deserves my patronage out there, who can't get it through one of the bigger, or even smaller publishing houses ~ at least as much as George rrrrrr Martin (I, um, pirated those. Not that I'm reading more than that one).

What made me think of all this, in the first place, to give credit where it's due, was a self-pub'd e book I just finished today ~ and I read its prequal yesterday. The books weren't great. A lot of the reviews pointed out the main character was under developed (he was, in the first book, less so in the second, and I can see why ~ it's part of the plot reviewers! He can't be developed when he has little to no memory! although, the author didn't make it fully clear how LITTLE he remembered till the second book. Another case of "excited to publish, gotta publish now!" before the book was really ready I think, and now it might be too late to go back and REALLY fix the first one, tie up loose threads, yada blah). This has got some pre-used plot devices (it reminds me a bit of the Matrix, a bit of the movie Wanted [memorable largely because of angelinajoliewithgun] some of Neal Stephenson and other cyber punk (the nano tech bit)

Fuck. I'm tired of writing. The point is, despite being not good, that book WAS good. I'm excited to read the next three, if this Zachary Rawlins dude makes it that far. And I'll probably buy his other book, not in the series, even though it costs two whole more dollarses than the other two I read. I was entertained. There's GOT to be more fresh stuff out there. Small Gems. You know? Well, I'll keep hoping.
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