Western novelist Richard Wheeler starts off his new blog by tackling the demise of the mid-list and the declining paperback market, hot-button issues that have been discussed a lot in the publishing biz. But Wheeler points the finger of blame where it has never been pointed before. Not at publishers. Not at distributors. Not at bookstores…
Is it possible that authors are largely to blame for the sharp decline in
fiction? Most authors would vehemently say no. Most would argue that fiction is
better than ever, well done, vivid, rich and compelling. It’s not the fault of
authors. Not the fault of all those mid-list people who have been bumped and can
no longer get contracts.
And yet, I wonder. The decline in readership of
novels has been going on for years, and began long before the upheavals that
affected the mass market distribution system. There was a time when this country
had literary lions. A time when an author was a celebrity. A time when a
best-selling novel sold in the millions. A time when even genre fiction sold in
the hundreds of thousands. Are we, who create the stories, who fashion the
product, ready to say that it’s not our fault that we sell in the tens of
thousands if we sell at all?
He believes that, by and large, books aren’t as well-written these days, that they are "technically elegant" but lack any real character.
I think ever since the 1970s fiction has been in
trouble, and that if we authors are aware of what factors are making us less and
less readable and compelling, we can, in our own unique ways, write more
compelling literature and win back some of our lost readers.
He promises to discuss these ideas in more depth in later postings. I, for one, will be eager to see what he has to say…