Well – she be true. Lisa Kleypas, in case anyone had not known this, has left Avon for the greener pastures at St. Martins.
This leads me to another thought. Sybil and I had the same idea! I had this written and was just getting reading to post when I saw that Sybil also wrote an open letter expressing very similar thoughts. Whereas she addressed her letter to many publishers, I’m picking on – you guessed it! I’m sure you are all wondering if there anything that
Dear Avon Power People:
Stop making money your sole and only reason for publishing! Sure keep it a big one, even the main one; I’m a realist. But gawd only knows you’re making enough money that you can afford to branch out a bit experimentally. You guys used to be more daring. You used to publish the odd Western or Colonial book. Heck – you even let Lorraine Heath write a few before you shipped her off to Merry Old England. And remember Susan Kay Law? She wrote wonderful Westerns for you guys; even won some awards before you kicked her to the curb when she wouldn’t conform to your England and nothing BUT England format. And one time, in a reply to someone’s complaint (no – not mine) that there wasn’t enough variety, an Avon Author used Kathleen Eschenburg as an example that Avon also publishes other locales. I laughed – oh how I laughed at that one!! ONE book. One - in recent memory. And where is she now? Her one and only book you published got glowing reviews. I heard she got sick and isn’t writing at the moment – but is that really the case or did you short sited idiots let her go? Wouldn’t put that past you – you’ve done it before. Sure, sure – you’ll come back with the "well we publish medievals vis-à-vis Mary Reed McCall and Kinley Macgregor". Yes, you do. But what is the percentage of medievals as opposed to the historical huh? Answer me that one!
There are some wonderful writers out there that break the Avon mold that I’m sure are available. Alexisis Harrington hasn’t been heard from for a while – she has written some truly wonderful and heartwarming stories and I miss her. (Anyone who hasn’t tried her – you should). Sandy Hingston is another author who we haven’t heard from for a while and I quite enjoyed her books. And *hands on hips* what about Taylor Chase? Huh? Answer me that! She wrote a couple of extraordinary books for you before you decided that she was too “different”. It’s your loss but even worse it’s our loss.
Don’t accept mediocrity. Oh – I know your going to say ‘but readers don’t mind’. Goodness knows you have enough fan girls that haunt the Avon Message board proclaiming to each other and their favourite author that so and so rocks and they love her to pieces and she couldn’t possibly write anything less than perfection. Here's an example to make one gag “OMG, Susie Fangirl said everything I was thinking!! Finished the book today and absolutely loved it. Thanks, XXXX for a great story, fabulous hero, and beautiful, spunky heroine! I can't wait to read XXXX'X story. When do you expect it to be released, and what do you have planned after the "XXXX of ..." trilogy? "
Oh pulease! Can we say suck up any harder? While I might write to an author expressing how much I enjoyed their book, never would I put something like that out there for all to see!
So except for those caught up in the deep throes of Avon Author love I say horse hockey! There is this honest website you see – All About Romance – and while I haven’t been taking notes or anything, I have observed that they seem to issue more mediocre marks for many more Avon books than many other publishers. If you want I’ll see if I can get stats for you. But when I see a C grade for a historical, I check the publisher and dollars to donuts there is a good chance it’s a book published by you guys. Raise your standards for Pete’s sake. You are giving the whole genre a bad name. Right now you are publishing a lot of drek. And I for one can’t be bothered sorting the drek from the good so I just don’t buy.
And we can’t forget about your covers. I’ve complained to anyone who will listen about your truly loathsome covers so I’ll try to be brief. Why do you do such idiotic things as putting the shirtless hero in a cape in the middle of winter? And then there are the heroines. You dress them in skimpy cleavage revealing dresses that must come from the “I’m a sleaze and proud of it” wardrobe. Do you have any idea how ridiculous these look? Now I know there are some readers who aren’t offended by these – although I’m not one of them, but I’m willing to compromise. If you absolutely HAVE to have them, at least put them in a step-back format rather than on the front or back. Yes, this also applies to other publishers but you Avon guys are the very worst offenders. I for one don’t want to have to think about whether this is a book I would read in public. Sure it might cost a few dollars more but if you cared about your entire readership, you would consider it money well spent. How much have you lost when some readers refuse to buy books with man-titty, sleazella covers?
And finally, I’m sure you are too busy in your ivory towered ‘let’s make as much money as we can’ tower to pay attention to us readers standing below, but there is a growing revolt at the lack of editing in books today. Flame wars are happening on message boards and blogs across the land. Some readers blame authors, some authors claim it’s not that big a deal and readers get angry. To be honest it’s not that big a deal to me. I’m a skimmer and don’t pick up a lot of those details. But I know and appreciate there are those who are very bothered by the lackadaisical attitude that seems to becoming more prevalent. Invest some money! Hire some GOOD conscientious copy editors that can work with the authors as a team to put out a good product for us consumers. I don’t think it’s right to put the entire burden on the authors. They are the creative force behind everything but they also need someone to watch their backs.
So, if you want me back as a buyer of what you’re selling, you will pay attention to what I’ve said. There are a few more things that would help but I’ve given you enough to chew on for the moment.
A really want to be wooed back Romance Reader