This does not apply to the phenomenal triumvirate of John Grisham, Dan Brown and James Patterson who must be responsible for the deforestation of half the planet given their combined sales.
Are the general reading public morons? Or do the publishers just treat them as such?
If I could make three wishes to help improve the quality of the books being published what would I wish for, and could anything bring about a change for the better?
The situation to me seems governed by the publisher's fear. Fear that if they don't pay the well known author an obscene advance, and in the process reject those superb books from aspiring writers, he or she will go elsewhere. Fear that if you tell them their last five books were really absolute tosh and they should take a look at their own early books to see just how far their standard has fallen, they will go off to a rival firm.
This is the same argument that is used to justify the top banker's huge bonuses. We only lost 250 billion dollars with you running things so you must be absolutely vital to the bank.
So here are my three very simple wishes:
1] Publishers should be brave. "Hang on Dan, I recall I read all this plot about 20 years ago and the name Leigh Teabag just won't work."
2] Blurb writers should actually read the books. Blurbs should be subject to the Trade Descriptions Act, and this might prevent the nonsense that entices the reading general public into the spider's web of the big name writers. Those gushing reviews that compare the writer to everyone from Ernest Hemingway, Eric Ambler, Enid Blyton and the Venerable Bede should be banned.
3] All property and house renovation programs on the television should be replaced by book programs that educate the viewer. If Richard and Judy can push a complex novel, such as The Interpretation of Murder by Jed Rubenfeld, into the best seller lists it is clear the public will buy good books if they are put in front of them.
This would at least be a small step to a situation where good writing is rewarded and the reading public would buy books based on their quality rather than on just name recognition.