Have you noticed that what’s being served up as basic storytelling these days has traveled very far away from what was once considered entertaining? The same is true, to an even greater degree, in literature.
Agents read with an eye to what will be published. Publishers choose manuscripts based on what they think will sell – and what will be acclaimed by critics. And, having read every book ever published, critics have already seen every plot twist, character quirk, shocking moment and convoluted timeline written. So, in fact, have the agents and publishers. Transgendered protagonist? That’s so 2002. Orphaned siblings flee war-torn third-world country? It’s been done. Disenchanted businessman who wants to pack it in and move to Tanzania but whose wife has mesothelioma? Try again. Billionaire bondage-lover? We’ve all read that one (raise your sorry hand if you read the whole trilogy).
Readers who love good fiction, however, may not have the same jaded palate. In fact, I’m willing to go out on a limb here and suggest that maybe a lot of readers out there are getting tired of wading through the new book section looking for one book that simply offers them great characters and a compelling plot line. Great descriptive narrative, some humor and a deeper message would be pretty fabulous too. But good luck finding that.
I’ve read a couple of really excellent books in the last few years, and you probably have too (email me any suggestions; I’d love to have them). But they are getting more and more difficult to find.
That’s why all the new self-publishing utilities are a real gift to readers. While there are surely masses of mediocre fiction out there in the do-it-yourself world, there is also the potential benefit of that gem just waiting to be found – a great piece of fiction that has little-to-no chance of being published as it breaks no rules, bends no boundaries and offers no more than a beginning-to-end good read.
And with the ever-growing sophistication of search, and the extremely low cost of e-books, you can enjoy the quest of finding a delightful novel that no one you know has read.
Or publish your own novel that’s languished for months (years?) on your hard drive. Go on, do it! And send me a link. I’d love to read it.