Monday, March 28, 2016

How Commercialism Is Destroying Fiction

This is not a blog post where I make fun of genre writers and praise literary fiction. I love genre fiction. I read romance and fantasy novels all the time. This is a blog post about how the publishing industry is slowly getting rid of legitimate authors (both in genre fiction and literary) and replacing them. We're not being replaced by machines or artificial intelligence. We're being replaced by people who don't care about words and never read any books. We are being replaced by people who couldn't care less about the publishing industry and don't know that the phrase isn't "could care less." We're being replaced by models, reality stars, and actors.

This truth first hit me when I realized how many of the Kardashians are NYT Bestsellers and how few of my author friends are. Khloe Kardashian is the most recent bestseller. I was at Barnes & Noble on saturday and saw how her book "Strong Looks Better Naked" had officially reached the NYT Bestseller list. They had a display for her and her book, proudly presenting these facts to everyone.

She is not the first Kardashian/Jenner to achieve this status. Her mother has done it, too, so has Kim Kardashian, although Kim's book is just a bunch of pictures of herself. Because celebrities don't even have to write any actual words anymore to have a bestselling book. Her younger sisters, Kylie and Kendall Jenner also have a book, a scifi novel, actually.

The reason this makes me angry is because it's ridiculous. I could never be a model or reality show star and I don't want to be. I won't be getting lip injections like Kylie Jenner has any time soon. I don't plan to do waist training like Kim Kardashian to see if I can make my butt look even larger in comparison to my stomach. I don't have make-up artists or stylists. The Kardashians do. They live, breathe, and survive on being beautiful.

Well, I live, breathe, and survive on words. Part of the reason I am even writing this blog post is because my kindle is out of battery, so I have to let it charge for awhile before I can goof off and read some romance novels later. I'll probably write a chapter or two of something later today and procrastinate for a little while on doing housework. Because I live off of words. Other people's words written into books and mine fashioned together into novels as well. But I don't expect to be treated like a model. I don't expect my picture to grace magazine covers. Because I don't focus on any of that stuff. My passion is for books.

So why are a bunch of reality stars all NYT Bestsellers?

Would you buy a tomato that Kim Kardashian personally planted and grew? Would you purchase only food cooked by Khloe Kardashian? When you buy tampons, do they need to have Kris Jenner's face on them? Do you choose your doctor based on only people Kourtney Kardashian recommends you see?

No. Because the Kardashians are reality stars and models. They don't know anything about medication, tampons, or food. They know how to look pretty and be on television. They can teach you how to pose for magazines. So why in the hell are all the bestselling novels written by people like them?

I know people get all uppity about genre fiction. They get upset about books like Twilight because they feel like the writing is beneath them and girly and blah, blah, blah. But at least Stephenie Meyer cares about words and fiction. At least you know she sat around, poring over exactly how to write each page, obsessing over every word and learning how to be better at grammar.

The Kardashians didn't do this. Publishing companies beg them to write books, not the other way around. I've seen them go to their big publishing houses on their reality show. They get red carpet treatment. Everyone kisses their butt and praises all their ideas.

To the Kardashians, writing a book is a quick burden that they shuffle off onto some ghost writer or editor and care very little for. It's like taking a breath. It's just another bottle of perfume to them or shade of lipstick that they have to approve and then they're done with it.

I'd take genre writers over that any day. Because they care. Because they try. Because they study so much and re-write over and over again.

But we live in a world where all that matters is what will sell. While I agree that we should write things that please readers, I am upset by the fact that we are all no longer taking quality of fiction into consideration at all. If you poop on a page and it sells, then that's the important thing, right? As long as it's in pretty enough packaging to appeal to everybody?

Imagine a world where everything was dictated by the same idea. Where people wouldn't ride an airplane unless they knew it was personally designed by Kim Kardashian. Her idea of a design would probably be a picture of a pink airplane with a smiley face on it. I'm not saying mine would be much better, but that's because I never went to school for that and I don't have a passion for it. Neither did she.

So why are we letting people who never read or write take over book sales? It's going to make literature in this culture crash and burn like Kim Kardashian's pink, smiley face airplane would crash and burn if it were to ever fly. I don't like it at all.

5 comments:

zenandtheartoftightropewalking said...

I couldn't agree more; you've said what I have been thinking. I personally think ghost-writing ought to be illegal and that however small, the name of the actual author MUST be on a book somewhere.

E.B. Black said...

I would very much prefer that. How horrible it would be to have written a NYT times bestsellers for a celebrity, so technically you wrote a bestseller and not being able to tell anyone.

RVR said...

Great post, thank you.

E.B. Black said...

Thanks for reading. :)

Anonymous said...

If it's any consolation, the ghostwriters hired to write their books are *real* writers. And the paycheck for ghostwriting a book for a celebrity is at around $150.000 to $750.000, so it's not like those writers are being scammed or anything.