Saturday, 5 May 2012

Sunday Special: Ten Commandments for Publishers

Some tips I wish publishers would follow! They're mainly inspired by specific books; I'm not suggesting any of them are common but they're all things that have irritated me over the last 12 - 18 months.

 People are more than welcome to guess which books I'm talking about in the comments section, but I'm planning on keeping my lips sealed! Also, if you're doing that, can you be careful with guesses for number 5 so you're not giving away spoilers, which would be very easy to do.

What do you think? Do you agree with them, or are there other things that drive you crazy? For that matter, are some of the below totally unreasonable? Would love to hear from you!

1. Thou Shalt Mention If It’s Part Of A Series – I love reading series books. I particularly love them when I get to start at the first book, then read the second, and so on. I’m less keen on picking up something which looks like a standalone when you look at Amazon, and finding out it’s book two or three in a series.

2. Thou Shalt Even Mention If It’s A Spin-Off Series – I can actually see why publishers don’t always follow this one, but it irritates me to no end. It seems particularly prevalent amongst YA series which are spun off from adult books – I’d rather start with the adult series if this is the case, and would like some indication.
3. Thou Shalt Make It Reasonably Clear Which Order To Read In – There used to be a wonderful trend of books in a series having numbers on the spine like 1, 2, 3 and so on, giving a helpful hint to readers. It was a fabulous, if simple, idea, and the amount of series which don’t use it – or something similar – stuns me.

 4. Thou Shalt Not Give Away More Than Two Thirds Of The Book – Preferably much, MUCH less. If I’m past the halfway point and still know things that are going to happen just from reading the back of the book, I’m starting to think I shouldn’t have bothered.

5. Thou Shalt Not Intentionally State Things That AREN’T Happening On The Back Of The Book – If you say on the back that the book’s MC is meeting XXX, they need to meet XXX. Simple.

6. Thou Shalt Not Pretend It’s A YA Book When It’s Not – Clue. If you have a 22-year-old MC who’s just left university, and no teenage characters in it, it’s not a YA book, no matter how hot the crossover market is at the moment.

7. Thou Shalt Have Some Sort Of Moral Standards – I can cope with bad guys ‘winning’, I can cope with bleak and harrowing, and so on. I find it difficult to read anything where there’s absolutely no redeeming qualities for any character, though.

8. Thou Shalt Not Cancel An Incredible Series – My ire over this one has been tempered by the fact that the said publishers later reversed their decision after a blog campaign. It should have been an obvious one to renew, though, surely!

9. Thou Shalt Not Release Several Awesome Books In The Same Month Every Other Publisher In The World Is Releasing Several Awesome Books – There are worse problems to have, but May is close to making my head explode!

10. Thou Shalt Carry On Releasing Great Fiction – Because, as much as I moaned in the first 8 points, I know that 95% of the publishers, 95% of the time, release incredible stuff and do a fantastic job. I love you all really!


  1. You're fairly dripping with frustration here, and I agree with you, although I have no idea how any publisher can help item 9.

    I am with so you on the book numbers if they're part of a series. I'm all for treating readers with respect, but numbers also make things much easier on us :-)

    1. Glad someone agrees - thanks Ebony!

      I should probably point out that 9 was slightly tongue in cheek, by the way! The others are definitely serious though.

  2. Haha, yes, the problem with blurbs. I'd add that books planned as trilogies should still read comfortably as standalones - or at least have satisfactory endings. But I'll disagree on the YA-crossover one though - I'm not sure if the age of the MC should be a rigidly defining hallmark of YA.

    1. It's an interesting one, and I was expecting that to be the one that people were most likely to disagree with. I find it difficult to class something with NO teenage characters as YA, though. (unless it's fantasy and they all live to be 250, in which case I could go with 30-year-olds.)

      The book was horrifically bad, as well, which didn't help, to be fair. A well-written one with at least one likeable character may have had more chance of me not throwing it out of my window!

  3. I'm actually in the middle of writing a blog post regarding point #1... so I'm glad it's not just me that has picked up on this! While I generally don't mind jumping into the middle of a series (it's happened a few times now), I would like some warning before I open the book!

  4. Agreed! With long series I'll occasionally start halfway through if I don't think I have the time/patience to read it all - but it's nice to have a choice about it!