the subjective success of best sellers


Written on Saturday, November 01, 2008 by haleigh

So I've been looking for new authors in the romantic suspense genre. Seeing as how I write romantic suspense, I've been trying all sorts of new authors, new directions, seeing what's out there and what I like and what I don't.

There's one particular best-selling RS author several people have recommended to me. Just the sheer quantity of books on the shelves says she's popular (and no, it's not Nora!). So I give it a shot a few weeks back. At page 136, when the hero and heroine still haven't met, and I've read 14 different analogies about the exact shade of blue in her eyes, I chucked the book at the wall.

Last night I was too tired to write, so I thought I'd give this author one more shot. One more book, just in case I happened to pick up a dud the first time.


I made it to page 91 this time, and went through an insane number of descriptions of his "golden eyes" (whatever that means) and the exact scent of a Chinese cigarette. Now, I love detail as much as the next girl, but give me a break! I don't need every puff of 3 cigarettes from the chain smoker in chapter 1 described to me in great detail. Or even better, if you love that much description, find something else to describe! It's a cigarette - we get it. There's smoke. There's ash. Time to move on.

And for goodness sake, can you pick a head and stay there? In each paragraph, the same thing was described from a different character's point of view. For example: "He rubbed her hands up and down her arms, reveling at the smooth feel of her skin. She shivered as she felt his hands rub up and down her arms, comforting her....." Yeah, we got it the first time. There were hands, there were arms, they were rubbed. Great. (can you tell this book hit the wall with a satisfying thud as well?).

I will say, after giving up reading straight through, I jumped around in the book for a while, and there was a phenomenal sex scene (though I'm glad I didn't waste 200 pages waiting for it) filled with deep emotion, and a very satisfying happy ending.

At some level, I can see why she's popular. Hot sex, deep emotions, cool characters. But it's not for me. So as I add to my little list of "what I like and what I hate," we're adding head-hopping to the hate side (it was already there, just adding it again for emphasis) and endless description of the same item/acts to the hate side.

Anybody found a new author recently they love? One that's just not for them even though everyone else loves them? Anyone else awed (and terrified) by the sheer subjective-ness of the publishing businesses?

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  1. Kelly Krysten |

    There is an author that literally EVERYONE loves that I just don't get. Her books are told in a format I've never liked. Don't get me wrong, the prose is beautiful. It's just the actual stories that suck.

  2. Jessica |

    Hmmm, a bestselling amish author. I picked up her book and couldn't get past the first chapter. Very boring. But then again, it may not have been the author just the subject matter.
    so the subjectivity of publishing? Actually makes me feel better, LOL
    If I get rejected I can console myself that maybe I'm not a horrible writer, it's just the wrong time, or whatever.

  3. haleigh |

    Guess it just goes to show that there's something out there for everyone. Glad it's not just me! LOL

    Kelly - now I want to know who it is? *g*

    Jessie - I like the way you think. You're right - if you don't hit the right agent in the right mood, that's not the fault of your writing! It's their crazy system. And at some point, you WILL hit the right agent in the right mood and BOOM - your career is off!

  4. Marnee Jo |

    Hal - that's hilarious! :) I just read Lover Unbound by JR Ward and I haven't read her before. I wasn't totally diggin the BDSM undertones (or the overtones for that matter). But the black moment was awesome and the end was satisfying.

  5. haleigh |

    BDSM overtones? Yikes! That could be painful! lol. I haven't read her yet, but I might give it a try. Though knowing me I'll have to cover my eyes and peek through my fingers when the whips come out *g*


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