Site icon Joanna Campbell Slan

Could Anything Self-Published Be Worse Than This?

One of the big arguments against self-publishing is the idea that publishers perform a valuable service for readers by sifting through dreck. Supposedly, they only publish the best of what’s available.

Uh, not always.

Another argument is that self-published work isn’t always edited as well as it should be. The big publishers have fabulous editors working for them, and these magicians can turn a rough manuscript into a gem. Fair enough. I have the rough manuscripts to prove that!

Uh, sometimes but not always.

And finally, it has been said that NY publishing is better than self-publishing will ever be, because the people in NY really know what the rest of us want to read.

Uh, no. Not always.

Case in point:

A big New York publisher sent me a beautiful hardback book to review. The blurb by R.L. Stine said, “Here’s a book that truly deserves to be called horrifying…”

Boy, he hit the nail on the head. I want to shake that man’s hand. He tells it like it is. Notice that he didn’t say, “This is a fabulous book and you have to read it!”

The accompanying press release calls the book “disturbing.” Gotcha. There’s another truth teller at work.

Here’s the plot in a nutshell: Scientists use DNA sequencing to create a new breed of serial killer. When these monsters escape, it’s a battle of wits with a special ops soldier who’s tasked with rounding them up.

Fair enough. Sounds interesting, no? In fact, I’d love to read a book about that. A good book. This might even be the one, except…I put it down after the opening scene describing in detail how these little monsters brutalized women. Ugly, ugly stuff.

By page 17, they’ve progressed to flaying other boys, but still…that was given short shrift.

Today I got an email from the publicist for this book. She asked me what I intended to do with it. I wanted to say, “I don’t believe in burning books but for this one I’ll make an exception.”

Instead, I said, “Well, R.L. Stine was right. Lord love him, and this book isn’t my cup of tea. I think it’s best that I don’t review it.”

(And in my head, I thought: Thank God. I’m not that sick or perverted. Not yet.)

To me, reading is and will always be a pleasurable experience. Therefore, I’ll take a pass on images I don’t want implanted in my little pea brain. Particularly if their only purpose is shock value.

I doubt that anything self-published could be worse than this dreck.

So what do YOU think? Have you read/bought any mainstream books lately that you wish you could have burned? That had no redeeming value? Or that relied on gratuitous sex or violence as a hook?

Do the folks in NY really know what all of us want to read?

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