Since the Ebook Revolution has taken off, there’s been no lack of supporters and detractors of it. One of the things I read repeatedly from the skeptics is that, “…most indie published stuff is trash – or crap…” Those same skeptics go on to state, “unlike indie ebooks, traditionally published books and novels are polished, professionally vetted and edited”.
Watching Good Morning America, they were talking about this years ‘Hot Summer Reads’. In showcasing the new thrillers, Tom Clancy’s ‘Against All Enemies’ caught my interest. I enjoy Clancy’s work, but I haven’t read one of his novels in a long time.
I went to my Kindle and looked up Against All Enemies. A few things turned me off. First, the price of the e-book is $12.99. The hardcover is $15.38. The second thing I noticed is that Tom Clancy and Peter Telep authored the book. Collaborations are nothing new, but when I saw that the book had a two star rating (41 one-star vs. 11 five-star reviews), I knew something was up.
Reading the reviews, it was evident to die-hard Clancy fans that this book “was not written by Clancy”. The style and voice are very different. More telling was that several reviewers stated that the military technical details of the story were incorrect in several areas. Anyone who knows Clancy knows that detailed military technical knowledge is his expertise. It was suggested that Telep wrote it and Clancy just put his name on the cover (without proofreading it) to make it sell.
Here are some of the comments:
“I made it to page 2 before seeing proof that this is another non-Clancy work. Here’s a part of a sentence describing the Pakistan Special Service Group: (it isn’t dialogue)
“…an organization similar to the U.S. Navy SEALs, but, ahem, their operators were hardly as capable.”
‘Ahem’? Amongst non-dialogue description in a book not written in any 1st-person narrative? C’mon. I stopped reading at page 14, and I’m returning the purchase…”
“The style is very different, there is none of the descriptive writing that is Clancy’s style. The writing in fact is very poor and vague.”
“Why Tom? You surely don’t need the money? Why do this to your fans? To treat people who’ve loved your work like this is worse than low, it’s just crass.
And Putnam? This is a disgraceful act from a book company, supposedly staffed by people who care about books. Was Sales & Marketing in charge of this debacle? Figures low this year, were they? How did the book lovers in your company let this through? Did anyone in Editing put up their hand and say ‘Ah, guys…’ Because edited, it was not… Basically, I’m thinking everyone just threw up their hands and said, ‘Too hard, 5 o’clock, I gotta train to catch.’
A shamelessly cynical exercise, and a sad day for novel lovers. Shame, people, shame.”
In looking at other Clancy novels published over the past few years, also with two star ratings (see Dead Or Alive and Teeth of the Tiger), I saw similar complaints, “shabby”, “needed editing” , and “horrible writing”
I wonder what those who are traditional publishing proponents would say?
Whether Putnam is having sub-standard writer’s pen the books and using Clancy’s name to sell them, or releasing poorly written books by an author who has for whatever reason, lost his edge – is this no less “trash” or “crap”, but at a much higher price? Who is truly doing the reader a greater disservice?