experience, attitude, enthusiasm, and boundless optimism

Do I Grade on a Curve?

sophie-kinsella-twenties-girlSo I recently finished reading Sophie Kinsella’s novel Twenties Girl, which I enjoyed (and stayed up late finishing), though I felt it suffered, at first, from some of the same problems I find in Kinsella’s insanely popular Shopaholic series. Namely, that the main characters seems SO CLUELESS at times that you want to reach into the pages and smack her upside the head, or in some other way, stop her from making a HORRIBLE decision.

That being said, I still finished it, and after I got past a few of those horrible decisions, I really enjoyed the book, and was, perhaps, even more pleased at the happy ending.

But I have to wonder: if I were reading this book as an agent — if the opening chapters came to me by submission — would I have kept going? I don’t know. In my pleasure reading, I think I do “grade on a curve,” somewhat, in that I trust a published book has gone through a rather vigorous vetting process. An agent liked it, sold it to an editor whose acquisitions board agreed, got their sales and marketing team behind it, a book store agreed to stock it, as did my local library, etc. etc. That’s a lot of hoops to jump through, and I have to trust that those hoops make the book better.

Which isn’t to say I haven’t been disappointed by published books in the past. I know that some authors at a certain level of success have their books published perhaps more quickly that a new author might, without the close, careful editing that a debut might receive. I’m not knocking editors at all — I know hordes of brilliant ones, who do amazing things with their titles — but sometimes a book may be delivered and published with a shorter turnaround that makes it hard for editors to do the jobs they’re hired for. Some authors may even believe their words can’t be improved by an editor’s hand, and don’t let their books be edited.

Anyway, all this is just to note another Recent Read, and open things up for discussion — have you been disappointed by published books, maybe by authors you’ve loved in the past? No names, please, but I’m curious if you kept reading them.

Full disclosure: By my nature as a literary agent, I get a commission on sales of books by my clients, through any eventual royalties. My links to any Amazon pages also earns me a small fee, if you click through and buy a copy. Though you should also feel free to support your local library — which is where I got my copy of this title.

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