The other day I received an e-mail from an author friend. The e-mail included a link to an article about an indie author who had written a book so bad that it had displaced all other claimants to the crown. The article cited some excerpts from the book, and I must agree the writing, grammar, spelling, and punctuation were all equally execrable. The author of the article was having a great deal of Simon Cowell – type fun with this. He righteously dripped with sarcasm and condescension. This book is a prime example of the kind of writing that causes such sturm und drang in the indie author community. None of us wish to be even loosely associated with this type of “author.” The thought that some might paint all indies in the same light as this fellow induces a collective cringe throughout the indie community. The writer of the article then went on to quote some of the reviews of the book.
Yes. People bought and read and liked and reviewed this horrible embarrassment of a book. The reviews were written by people evidently as illiterate as the author of the book itself. His sales are evidently quite good—I daresay they are likely better than mine. Perhaps his sales are better than yours as well.
His target audience is evidently the people who write as he does. Here are excerpts from some of the reviews:
“This is a book. And Also its a Good book, one to read. The auther who goes by the Name of [AUTHOR”S NAME REDACTED] really has a nack for Good science Fiction telling. Also the Story.”
“Heres the problem with all these supposebly great authors — none of them writes the way Regular People talk and write on the Internet. But! now along comes a book that not only does that but also solves the other big problems with literater.”
“From the riveting opening paragraph, to the riveting dialog, to the riveting final events in the master peace: [TITLE REDACTED] will keep you on the edge of you’re seat.”
“I cannot recommend this book highly enough. Of all the books I’ve read, this is certainly one of them. Some books are really great and some are not. This book falls into that category. If you read it, I’m sure that you will feel the same way as I do about it.”
It goes on like this. How many 5-star reviews does your book have on Amazon? Mine has eight. His has seventy-nine 5-star reviews out of 103 reviews on Amazon. His book also costs more than mine.What’s the deal? Is my book not riveting enough? Is it because I use words like “execrable?”
This guy is the Forrest Gump to our Lieutenant Dan. He prospers while we flounder. We take great pains to produce quality writing that captivates readers and enchants reviewers and critics while he vomits some words out on a page. What happens? We get the Purple Heart and Forrest here gets the freaking Congressional Medal of Honor.
It is hard not to resent the successes of people who seem to bumble and stumble into glory and fortune. Lt. Dan certainly resented Forrest. That’s not the end of the story though. Lt. Dan worked through all that and learned something from Forrest. It changed him. It made him happier. It made him better.
We may not like it, but this guy has something going. He has accomplished something I have not. He has found his target demographic, and people are actually buying his books. I don’t know the reason people buy his book. Perhaps they are buying it as a lark. Perhaps some of the reviews are jokes. It may be that both the author and his fans are a damning indictment of the state of education. None of that matters. What matters is that he has succeeded where so many of us have failed. It is no good to shake our fists at the heavens and proclaim life unfair. There is something to be learned here if we are not too proud to ask the question. I am not suggesting for a moment that we emulate his style and try to penetrate the same demographic. Yet, as he did indeed find an audience, so must each of us.
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