Warning: This is a good old fashioned rant!
I hereby revoke those involved in the traditional publishing industry’s right to look down your noses at self-published authors. You can thank Simon & Schuster for finally crushing the beating heart of your self-perceived ironclad credibility. You, my contracted friends, can now count Snooki Polizzi as one of your peers. That’s Snooki of Jersey Shore fame, the bouncy big-haired queen of quotes like; “That’s why I don’t eat friggin’ lobster or anything like that. Because they’re alive when you kill it.” And, “I think my crotch is sticking out.”
I’m not stupid. I know why S&S thinks this is a good deal. Snooki is a celebrity that has brand recognition, and celebrity memoirs do well among their fans, but this is not a memoir. She’s been signed to publish a novel. A novel! Are you kidding me? Not only is Snooki not a writer, she’s admitted to only reading two books, Twilight and Dear John. Sadly, I guarantee that’s two more books than 90% of her fans have read.
Now, it’s doubtful that Snooki is actually going to write the book. S&S will likely hire a ghost writer and stick Snooki’s name and chubby little face on the book, but the deal is a clear indication of what is wrong with the publishing industry. Publishers are not interested in books. They want authors… well, that’s not entirely accurate. They want names and faces that come with built-in media coverage, whether the individual can write or not is secondary to their purposes. They want to sell books, and you can’t blame them. That’s how they keep the lights on, but the problem is they aren’t publicizing books.
Publishing companies are publicizing authors. They’re treating the author as the product. And again, I can understand that to a certain degree. Stephen King is the product. John Grisham is the product. Cormac McCarthy is the product. Philip Roth is the product. But, they’re products built around writing talent. Snooki is a product built around public drunkenness and disturbingly revealing outfits (seriously, doesn’t she have friends that are willing to say, “You’re wearing that in public?”), and somehow this merits a publishing deal with a major publishing company. For some reason, S&S thinks that fans of Snooki will buy her book just because she has the ability to do a half dozen Gangsta Bull Shots. There’s no doubt they’ll show up for her public appearances and buy books to throw away when they get home, but that’s it. The book won’t even sell enough to cover the cost of publicity.
My plea to publishing companies is to start caring more about the material. Start publishing books that will have a shelf-life longer than a carton of milk. Make the story your priority. Give us memorable characters. And please, please sign authors that don’t say things like, “Sympathetic. Word of the day… that’s a big word!”
Before you ask – Yes, I’m slightly bitter, but not because of what I’ve gone through. I don’t mind being judged by my talent. I am bitter because of what people like Snooki don’t have to go through. There’s only so much money in the publishing industry, and when they waste it on crap like this, I get a little ranty.