Have You Ever Thrown a Book Across the Room?
I’ve belonged to several book groups over the years, and some time ago one of my groups started a new book that I hadn’t helped select. I began reading and quickly pegged it as a Really Bad Book.
Not that I’d tell anyone, of course. (Just you.) But I couldn’t stop thinking about how poorly the book was crafted, how I would have edited, how cheesy it was. Normally when I read for enjoyment, I’m fairly good at turning off my internal editor. But not this time.
Then I found out that Really Bad Book had been out for almost a decade, was a perennial strong seller, and had even been made into a movie (direct to DVD). Clearly others had a different opinion than I did.
How can this happen? How can such a badly written book (in my opinion) go on to such success?
It happens all the time—there are lots of books that you or I would consider badly written but sell boatloads of copies and even become movies. I struggle with it, as I know many of you do. I drive myself crazy wondering why I can’t sell some of my clients’ fantastic books when that stuff is getting published.
But then I have to take a step back and remember why I’m in this business in the first place. I love books. I love writing and I love writers. It doesn’t mean I have to love every book specifically; but I love the fact that there are so many different people writing so many different books. It takes all kinds, right?
And besides, I’m just one person with an opinion. Who am I to judge? Some of the books I love would undoubtedly be called Really Bad by others.
I’m so glad I have the freedom to choose which kinds of books to read, which ones to represent…and which ones to pretend don’t exist!
As for the
Really Bad Book Book That Did Not Appeal To Me, I tried to change my attitude and read it with as little judgment as possible, but I found it difficult. I couldn’t read more than a third of it. So for that particular book group meeting, I stayed unusually quiet, knowing if I opened my mouth I’d probably regret it.
How do you deal with the fact that there are so many books that you think are BAD? Does it cause you any frustration? Resentment? What helps you put it all in perspective? (Please don’t name any books in the comments.)
© 2011 Rachelle Gardner, Literary Agent. An earlier version of this post ran on my blog in 2009.