Industry Report:
Authors Step it Up!

by Various Readers
December 2010


Dear Authors,

Last year readers united to voice their pet peeves in reading. The responses were overwhelming and the feelings were pretty much the same, expanding numerous readers. Readers spoke out on the things that they would like to see authors stop doing.

Lack of Creativity

  • Sequels/trilogies/series: A sequel or continuation of books is not always necessary. Readers want complete stories and should not have to wait on another book for closure or to answer questions pertinent to the plot of book one. It’s insulting to readers for an author or publishing company to take one plot and break it up and stretch it for several books. Be creative and write. That is what writers do – write.
  • Celebrity look-a-likes: Use your words. Describe your characters instead of simply stating what celebrity he/she resembles. Everyone cannot possibly have Beyonce’s hips and LL Cool J’s lips. With so many descriptive words in the English language, use them.
  • Designer Labels: It’s been said that clothes don’t make a person, a person make the clothes. Today, unfortunately, designer labels make the books. Page after page, paragraph after paragraph, sentence after sentence, it’s designer label overload. A book should not read like a commercial advertising a product. It’s not limited to clothes. Cars, alcohol, shoes and make-up are also frequently overused. Focus more on details pertinent to the story.
  • Book covers: A few authors have moved a little more towards creativity this past year, and there are many phenomenal graphic artists to choose from. But the "booty" is still gracing too many book covers. Readers want eye catching covers, true, but they also want covers that blend in with the storyline and aren’t just for shock value. Booties, guns, blood and money…what else do you have?

  • Positivity: It would be nice to see more positive representation of characters, especially parental figures. Every mother is not on drugs nor is every father absent. Positivity is a choice. Positive begets positive.

 

Quality:

  • Editing: The quality of books seem to be at an all-time low and that is disturbing, yet its importance has never changed. Many authors are resorting to editing books themselves, using programs such as Spell Check or leaving the crucial task to a family member or friend. Also, some mistakenly believe that ‘editing’ only covers grammatical issues. That is not so. The collaboration and assistance of a content or developmental editor can make a world of difference with the development of a storyline. An editor should be a trusted person who sees your vision and the ultimate goal should be to build a stronger story. There are different kinds of editing, all of which can be useful to authors. Lack of copyediting and developmental editing has saturated the industry with books littered with errors and underdeveloped plots and characters. It is very important to not only utilize the assistance of an editor but to also be sure that the person is a qualified editor. In many cases, an editor that is not qualified is just as bad as not using an editor at all. Do your research. Expect quality. Demand quality. Proper editing is the best investment any author can make.

  • Typesetting: As is the case with finding a qualified editor, the same applies to typesetting. Do your research. Expect quality. Demand quality.

 

Behaviors:

  • Reviews: A disturbing trend has developed, and it’s very unfortunate. Many authors are resorting to unprofessional behavior and/or reactions in response to less than favorable reviews. Some authors have stooped to the level of referring to anyone that doesn’t like/love their book or points out flaws and areas in need of improvement as a ‘hater.’ Some have gone so far as to refer to reviewers as obscene names. With social networking sites like Facebook and the comment feature on Amazon, it seems to have reached epidemic proportions. Such behavior is never okay or acceptable. All reviews are not going to be 5-stars or state that a book is a “page-turner.” While it’s nice to read glowing reviews, just as important are the reviews that provide constructive criticism. Instead of getting mad or upset and acting out, focus on what it is that the reviewer did not like or felt needed improvement. If an author cannot handle the opinions of others, maybe that person should consider another profession.

  • Self-appointed titles: Too many people are giving themselves titles and there is often little or no evidence to support their claim. How can you be the King/Queen/Prince/Princess/Duchess/Emperor/First Lady/Godfather/Adopted Cousin/Third Aunt Removed (you get the point) of any genre with no book, one book or even three books? Leave the title appointing to the readers, reflective of sales. Such titles are earned by years of hard work evident by a variety of books. Danielle Steel has been dubbed the Queen of Romance. She has more than 580 million copies of her books in print, and every one of her books is a bestseller. In short, she is the most popular author writing today. Her books have been translated in 28 languages. Twenty-one of her novels have been adapted for television, each earning high ratings and critical acclaim, including two Golden Globe nominations. She has reason to have titles bestowed upon her. What have you done deserving of a title?

 

Area of Improvement:

There has been improvement in safe sex practices through more incorporation of condoms. However, there is still a long way to go.

Going Forward:

While we have enjoyed another year of reading, it is becoming more of a daunting task to weed through the bad. Respect not only yourself by delivering the best product, but the readers who continuously support you. After all, what is an author without readers?

 

Sincerely,

Your Readers

 


Comments page 3 of 3:
Click Here to Add a Comment
Felicia :
Posted 2100 days ago
I am a loyal, loving reader of urban books, but lately I have only been reading books from authors that I'm familiar with. In the last couple of years it seems like all of the new urban fiction has had the same formula. (very young pretty, lightskinned, long-haired, naive girl falls in love with a attractive older drug dealer who sweeps her off of her feet only to treat her like dirt in the end) Even though that is common in the hood, I'm tired of every author with the same story line. I think authors should write about the other struggles in the streets. How about a single mother of 3 trying her best to raise her children and find a man? Or how about the trials and tribulations of a young man in the hood who tries to stay out of the street life but struggles not becoming a statistic and what the rest of the world expects him to be. Both of those scenarios have a lot of potential and if an author has good writing skills, they could definitely make a great book out of it!
N.S. Ugezene :
Posted 2372 days ago
I am a fellow author Denise...I do think it's wrong for you to be ragged on for being on Melodrama. In your defense, I have seen readers who greatly applauded "Drama With A Capital 'D'. I think the problem is that readers of urban fiction are saying they don't want certain trends happening but if I may point something out, the main authors getting praise are authors who are crafting a series of books.
The saturation of the market is why the more creative authors aren't getting the buzz they should be getting. It really doesn't even matter what publisher we're on. Hell. Some of us urban authors have to fend for ourselves because these imprints don't want to try going outside the box. It is not even out fault as authors to tell you the truth @ Lil Wayne. It is because a number of publishers won't allow going outside their formula. Yesterday, I wasn't even given the chance to at least have my preview read by an author/publisher because they felt it wasn't hood because I admitted to shying away from so much referring to drugs, sex and gun play. I wanted to sell more of an authentic experience of what it's like in the hood but to tell you the truth, most of the urban publishers want shock value and don't care for the the more creative, accurate depiction of hoodlife. They prefer it to be over the top, pretty much exaggerated.
 

 


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