THE BLOG
02/20/2009 09:39 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

Selling Cartoonish Characters with Wooden Dialogue

I often write about the publishing industry and most recently wrote here about its standards. Admittedly, I am rather vocal when it comes to self-publishing or print-on-demand. Nevertheless, in spite of the new publishing paradigm, there is still often a stigma when it comes to self-publishing. The idea that if a book hasn't been vetted, even though most print-on-demand publishers now do offer editorial services, then it is not worth time or money. With that in mind, let's look at recent feedback on some novels with titles I'll keep anonymous:

"Clunky pacing and cartoonish characters"
"reads like a superficial TV script"
"overall silliness and lack of credible characters"
"a mechanical plot and an improbable ending far from satisfy"
"descriptions of technology and applications are painstakingly overexplained"
"wooden dialogue"

No wonder an element of writers cannot find a traditional publisher! Savvy agents simply cannot sell a story with "cartoonish characters" or "wooden dialogue." Right? Actually, that's not quite true because all those reviews were from Publishers Weekly and were for traditionally published books, which makes one wonder about the nature of this business.

Recently, Stephen King was quoted as saying that Twilight author Stephenie Meyer "can't write worth a darn. She's not very good."

I cannot weigh in on this since I haven't read any of this best-selling author's books. Yet, why is it that some books, some less than wonderful books, capture the attention of an agent or editor while others more deserving by quality standards will never get the opportunity to be read by the masses? That's a question many authors looking for a book deal ask because had those reviews been for rejected manuscripts, the publishing industry would make more sense. Maybe though, it is why the industry, at least the traditional publishing industry, is hurting. I'm not sure what the editors saw in the aforementioned books with bad reviews, but whether traditionally or self published, our standards should be higher, not only for our readers but for ourselves.