One of the things one sometimes hears as he visits the blogs of writers is the lament that, too often, "good writing" doesn't get published, but a lot of "bad writing" does get published. Often, this lament is frequently followed by a rather bitter assertion that this situation just isn't "fair."
The fact is, publishers are in business to make money. The way they make money is when books sell. They are not in business to publish "good" writing or "bad" writing; only writing which sells.
Let me tell you what kinds of books I buy: I buy books that I find interesting. Others also buy on this basis, as well as buying whatever is on the best-seller list, regardless of whether they like it or not. I'm not sure of the psychology of the latter, but it is true.
I don't really buy books based on whether or not they are "well-written" when compared to the standards or the Classics, or the talents of past "great" writers. Nor do I NOT buy books because everyone says they are garbage and shallow, poorly written and mistaken in their theses. I simply buy books which look like they would be interesting and/or are on a subject I want to know more about.
If you were a publisher, would you put up the money to publish and publicize a book because it was written well? Because it was authoritative? Or because your experience told you it was salable? Which would be your primary criterion?
And so, a lot of books that are disdained by literary professors as simply poof and puff get published and make millions.
Is this "fair"? If not, why not?
This doesn't apply only to books and publishing. There is a huge amount of crap being sold today. It's plastic. It's made in China. It isn't hand crafted and polished "good stuff."
None of us demand the "good stuff" when we select our politicians. You don't believe me? Look around you.
Shall we talk about "good" movies? Some people love the Sense and Sensibility genre, but more go to see Harry Potter and Avatar. And, collectively, even more still will go to see blood and guts and things being blown up. True or false?
Who gets to tell us what we should read, what we should go see, what we should eat? Who among you are the quality police? McDonald's is crap, according to the nutrition police. Why do they sell so much of it? Because lots of people like me like it a lot, that's why. Cheap, too.
I think the answer, in all cases, and in all of these examples, is simple: PEOPLE WANT IT.
All markets, food, cinema, toys, BOOK SALES, are driven by what people - buyers - want to buy. Give people what they need and you will do well. Give them what they WANT and you will make a killing.
True, sometimes something sells because of its packaging or because it is well hyped. A lot of people take things at face value and buy simply because it glitters, or because everybody else is buying the thing. Later, after you have made your purchase, you find the thing is not as advertised, or that it is found wanting in substance or performance. Barack Obama comes to mind. So does George Bush and most of congress. But it is up to you to investigate before you buy.
Is this "fair?" Damn right it is. If you want to write to please yourself, fine. If you want to make money writing, then write what people want to read. I wish I could.