Publishing Money-Making Strategies I Hate

publishing

Between grad school and book blogging, I’ve learned a decent amount about the publishing industry for someone who does not work in the publishing industry. More importantly, it’s something that I pay much more attention to now. While, for the most part, I think this is a good thing, there are a few things that really get on my nerves. The three strategies I discuss below are clearly designed to make money for publishers and authors, but don’t exactly result in the best books. Which bugs me. A lot. Keep reading to see what they are…

Bestseller “Factories”. There is nothing that annoys me quite as much as the bestseller factory. There is a particular author whose books I refuse to read, because he does not write them. He writes detailed outlines of his books and then hands them off to other, lesser known authors to actually write. And then his “sellable” name is printed in large letters on the cover with (much) smaller letters revealing the “co-author”. With so many people writing for him, this author can publish a bestseller every month and make tons of money doing it. I just really hate the idea of this. It feels like cheating. Or like it somehow undermines the entire point of writing books. There shouldn’t be a monopoly on writing. I don’t like it. And I will never see one of these books (and they are everywhere) without gritting my teeth.

Replacing Authors (After They’ve Died). It’s always sad when a great author dies, regardless of whether or not they leave unfinished work. But it happens; that’s life. And I don’t think that makes it okay for publishers to hire different authors to pick up where that author left off. (Yes, I am thinking of that series you’re thinking of.) While I understand the desire, but I can’t help but feel like the publisher is exploiting the name of the author who has passed away. Plus, I refuse to believe the writing will be exactly the same. These books earn very strong eye rolls whenever I come across them.

Never-Ending Series. We all know those series: the ones that should have ended around book three – but wait! – got another four books in the series, yay! No. No, no, no, no. Particularly with young adult books, I see the appeal of continuing the story. They will sell, and readers will be excited about them. Here’s why I hate them: they inevitably kill the story. And there is an increasing trend to leave open-ended storylines in order to sell sequels (which another, awful, thing entirely), and, instead of a concise story that is actually good, we get drawn out pandering. Series need to end at a place that makes sense. Harry Potter = seven books for seven years at Hogwarts. Trilogies and duologies are short and structured enough that they usually work. But it’s rare that a story needs more than three books, and I rarely even get past book three when I attempt to read those series. It’s just unnecessary and results in a lot of mediocre literature.

Have you noticed these strategies in the publishing world? Do they annoy you as much as they do me? And would/have you read any books that utilized one of these strategies? Let me know in the comments!

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33 thoughts on “Publishing Money-Making Strategies I Hate

  1. It is really annoying especially when you start a long series and you have to wait until they are translated to you language and when you think it’s over and put it away suddenly out of nowhere you see another 4 books 10 years later

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  2. I’m not sure how many bestsellers I read in the ‘factory’ option … Certainly not a preference I have. Replacing authors and never-ending series are similar: in general I’m not sure I mind as long as it’s a matter of a trusted formula and the writing&ideas are decent. A bit like with the Bond films: just because Fleming isn’t around to write more books … For example, I wish there were more Phillip Marlowe books. That said, I tried reading “Poodle Springs” which was completed by Parker after Chandler’s death and I didn’t think it made the grade.

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    1. For me, I just don’t think they’re necessary. And most are very clearly published because they will make more money than a new story. I just think all stories need to end at some point before they are written to death. But I also understand that there are a lot of people who like when series continue for a long time.

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    1. Right? I feel like people are not aware of where his books come from. I see them constantly in Target and it annoys me so much. (Don’t even get me started on “his” venture into children’s books haha)

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  3. I get what you’re saying but I think some people just really enjoy having beloved characters in their lives for a long time. It depends on the genre maybe and of course popular series are good for business, but there’s more to it than money.

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    1. I completely understand that there is more to it than money, but I also think stories need to have an ending. Most long series (in my experience) feel unnecessarily drawn out. I get that people want more time with characters they love, but, for me, that’s just he nature of stories. They end.

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  4. The never ending series is something I will NEVER get into!! I don’t want to continue the series for the next 20 years of my life and still not get to the end. Enough is enough.
    Number 1 – hmmmm I think this starts with a “P”…… if I’m right then I’ve never read a single one of his books and don’t plan to either! Great post and couldn’t agree more!

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  5. Oh I HATE never ending series!!!!! I can’t do it. If I know ahead that it’s going that way then I won’t even start it. And sometimes if I’m already invested and then the author announces that their trilogy will actually be getting a four book (or however many) extension then I usually bail or I might read to the end of the original trilogy and ignore that one loose string that allowed them to extend the series and I just pretend that everything ended as it should lol

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    1. I do that too! There are so many series I just can’t continue with. Or I’ve only read the original trilogy of and decided not to continue. I hate the open ended, “hey, I can write another book here” thing. It drives me crazy. Books, and series, should have an ending.

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  6. I’m with you on never ending series! I think duologies and trilogies are great, but anything more than three books gets a bit excessive I think (other than Harry Potter of course!). And I totally agree about the bestseller thing too, I’ve noticed that a lot with certain authors, which is so annoying because the actual authors barely get recognition

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    1. Exactly! I don’t have anything against long series per se, I just think they are very rarely necessary.

      And the bestseller thing brings up an interesting question. What should get more credit: the writing or the idea? (I guess it’s similar to ghostwriting in a way.)

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  7. I’ve noticed this three editorial problems, but what really troubles me are the strategies used when translated books are published. It’s really difficult to find never ending series in Italy (if they aren’t crime books), because it seems that the editor will finish the money after the third book. If the book published doesn’t become immediatly a sure bestseller, then it is abandoned: a lot of series were left alone for years after the first or second book was published. If we were lucky then three years after the third book was translated in an entire different edition, if we were less lucky the entire serie was published in a big volume, and you had no choice: or buy the volume (really expensive) or forget the serie. A lot of series have been simply abandoned.
    And then there is the case of A Song of Ice and Fire. Before the TV serie the books had been published, but every book divided in three smaller sections, each one costing around 11 €. The original volumes have been later published, with a cost of 15€ each. You can see the difference.
    The publishing industry in Italy has been in an economical crisis for years, but this doesn’t mean less books, it means only less quality. :/

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    1. That’s awful. I haven’t personally experienced a lot of international publishing issues, but I definitely hear about them all the time. I hope someday the industry will be more standardized.

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  8. Reading the comments I believe my guess about who number 1 is referring to is confirmed; his name popped into my head immediately (I’ve never read his books either, mainly for the reasons you listed). But I think you may have unintentionally undermined other besteller “factories” based on just one author. Stephen King also comes to my mind, and while horror is not my genre of choice, he has exceptional talent, he doesn’t employ those tactics you described for author P and frequently publishes new titles.

    I agree with your number 3 – I just finished the Poison Study trilogy, and while I’m intrigued that there are six more books within that world, I find it tiring just thinking about reading all of them! I don’t like when good series end but I respect the rationale of them having an end.

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    1. Thanks! I didn’t know there were that many books in the Poison Study series. Kind of makes me want to read it less haha.

      I don’t think of King as a bestseller “factory”, since he actually writes his own books. Yes, he writes a lot of bestsellers very quickly, but that’s hard work vs. hiring other people to do it for you. Though I can see how that term could be applied to him, I definitely wasn’t thinking of it that way. For me the term “bestseller factory” refers to a system in which more than one or two people churn out books “by the same author”.

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      1. Yeah, the three that come after follow a minor character, and then there are three more that return to the original story line. It’s dizzying, really. 😛

        In this sentence above: “With so many people writing for him, this author can publish a bestseller every month and make tons of money doing it” I focused too much on the post-comma part without considering your entire explanation. I rescind my statement of skepticism!

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  9. I definitely have seen these techniques used, the one I don’t mind though is when my favourite series gets more books as long as it works. For example, for me and I know this series isn’t for everyone but Throne of Glass by Sarah J.Maas, whilst I still haven’t read Tower of Dawn yet I’ve really liked all the books in that series and I think more than 3 was definitely needed because there is so much detail to the world. I’m not good with books which try to cram in so much high fantasy detail and history into a short space, it muddles me and this one worked for me.
    I’m not a fan of authors not writing their books and just using the ‘seller’ name. It frustrates me because it’s like I’m being conned as it’s not the work of the person you think it will be by 😫

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    1. The series one was definitely the most controversial on my list. A lot of people like to see more of their favorite characters. I think it’s fine, if there is a real reason for it. A lot of times, I feel like the books beyond the original trilogy or series aren’t as good. As for the authors not writing their own books thing, I definitely agree. Even when the real author is listed (usually in tiny letters), it feels dishonest.

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