Sunday night I wanted a quick, non-mind taxing read but I wanted a good giggle too, so I started a new Janet Evanovich book and series. I should have just gone to bed early and fell asleep, it would have been more entertaining and a better utilization of my time.
The Stephanie Plum series by Janet Evanovich has long been funny because the characters in the books. There are no deep thoughts just impossible situations that Stephanie and LuLu find themselves in. It is a tried and true formula that works. Yes, the books are predictable but they are fast and easy beach reads that don’t require anything more from the reader than a couple of hours and several laugh out loud moments.
Unfortunately, just because the formula works on one series doesn’t mean it translates into another novel by the same author. Evanovich tried moving the formula from New Jersey to South Beach and it doesn’t work. Writing style is too familiar but the characters are even less fleshed out than those in previous works.
Janet Evanovich isn’t alone in suffering from this problem. I think all authors that sell millions of books find it too easy to churn out books every year. James Patterson and Robert B. Parker are authors that also immediately spring to mind for being in the same boat. The sheer number of books they manage to “write” every year is an indication that they aren’t actually writing them, even though most of the time they fail to list the ghost author on the cover of the books.
Everyone has their favorite authors and genres and falls back to familiar choices when taking a chance isn’t in the deck of cards for that day. But personally, if you didn’t write the book then for the love of all that you hold sacred, give the author that wrote it for you credit where credit is due. It is hard enough writing a book and even harder trying to secure a publishing contract. But when you have ghost authors plugging stories into your “winning” formula, have the common decency to let those of us that purchase your books and line your pockets with cash that you didn’t actually write the book. And creepy sales pitch ads on television are even less appealing from authors like these.
Publishers want winning formulas that guarantee a return on investment and thus we see endless streams of plug-and-write novels coming out year after year. The situation will only improve once readers stop purchasing familiar crap (guilty of it myself) and takes a chance on a new author or genre. The current glut of crap lining the shelves of libraries and bookstores (brick and mortar and electronic) is the fault of readers. It is time we started giving new authors a chance to tell fresh stories and introduce new characters. Who knows what gems we are missing.
I’m off to go pick a new author and try something new. I’m going to make it a goal to do that at least once a month.