For years I have followed several authors that I called my favorites. Tom Clancy and Dale Brown are a couple of them. I do read just about everything I can get my hands on, but like everyone else, I have my favorites that I am always looking for. But then I started noticing a trend, and not a good one in my opinion. I started seeing Tom Clancy with some unknown writer. Dale Brown and so and so. I also started noticing a trend with the writing of these books. Yes the characters were the same, the storylines were there, but the quality of the work was not.
You get comfortable with an author because they lead you down a path and tell you a story that keeps you heading in the right direction. They guide you to an ending that either surprises or baffles you. So the more you read of a particular author the more you look forward to the next twist and turn in the path and seeing how they are going to mentally challenge you next. As a result you also look forward to that next tome in a series that follows a particular lines of characters. You get familiar with them, comfortable with them. You laugh, cry and root for them in the end. So when they change, you notice! When a new author writes about them you can tell, feel and see the differences. Even when the name on the cover is that same (at least one of them), you can tell something isn't right.
Why are they doing this?
Well the obvious answer is money! Do not get me wrong I am not claiming the authors are money grubbing villains here, though I am sure some are. I think it is more a testament to the publishers being a bunch of money grubbing thieves that are providing us with a deception ridden pile of novels that are no more written by the authors represented on the cover than Elvis is alive and well in Las Vegas doing Thursday night double headers at Caesars Palace.
These publishers are deceiving you into believing that your getting a true blue Tom Clancy novel, when in fact you are getting a Tom Clancy 'CONCEPT' that is written by some other two bit hack that the publisher was able to hire for pennies on the dollar. Ok, two bit hack might be a bit strong, but when I am deceived I get upset about it, and I want you to get upset too. There are obviously some good Co-authors out there or the novels wouldn't sell at all. But lets read their novels with their names only on the cover, not the duplicitous drivel the publishers are ramming down our throats as genuine top grade novels.
Pure Deceptions from the get go.
Take this novel 'Threat Vector' Sold as a Tom Clancy novel and co-authored with Mark Greaney. Right on the front cover in Gigantic letters, "Tom Clancy". Leading you to believe that Tom in fact wrote this novel. Underneath this prominent header in a font one tenth the size are the words "With Mark Greaney". Ok so now we are led to believe it was co-authored with Mark and Tom.
Here is where you picture Tom and Mark sitting at a table talking about plot lines and sharing ideas. Happily deciding which way to go with the next twist and double checking each others work. Which is a load of crap. These guys didn't sit down and co-author these books. Tom Clancy wrote down a page or two concept on an idea form. The publisher hired Greaney to WRITE the novel following the concept written by Tom. Tom checked off on it after the editors made it sound more like Tom's writing and the publisher cleaned up from it. You then paid Tom Clancy Prices for a new novel written
by a new novelist no one had heard of at the time. There may very well be some of Toms writing somewhere in the book to make it legally legitimate, but the best guess out there would be it is a LOT less than the 50% that the term Co-Author infers is written by him.
Are the co-authors any good?
The Short answer is yes the co-authors are good or at the very least passable authors. Mark Breaney is a decent author in his own right as represented by his best selling novel 'Dead Eye'
. But when he was relegated to writing what Tom Clancy and the publisher said he should write, the story lines were overly complex and fraught with errors. Reviews to this effect can be found everywhere on the web. The reason authors like Tom Clancy are so renowned is that they rarely make mistakes in story lines and plots. Names are not messed up between novels, you never find a story line that just end in the middle of no where, or never develops at all after being introduces.
Publishers also used to take their time and make sure their were no major errors in a novel. Oft time delaying the release of a book because of a last minute error that is found.
Other authors do not gain this talent, it is something you must have to start with. You can improve upon it by telling simpler story lines or having an amazing editor that catches such things. But in todays cookie cutter literary publishing system, it seems to be that more and more errors and lack of continuity are being allowed in return for speed in publishing. An author who doesn't 'publish' 3 - 5 books a year is not a good investment in the publishers eyes.
Realistic publishing numbers.
I did a little research, that showed me some things. I looked at Tom Clancy's publishing history. At the time of this writing I counted Tom released novels at 102 different items published from 1984 to 2014. Of those, more than half, 53 to be exact were published within an 8 year period, with a peak of 11 tomes in one year in 2000. The years before and after that era average 2 to 3 books a year on average being published. So are we to believe that in 2011 Tom gained super human writing ability and wrote more than every other novelist on the planet, or that he had this many novels stashed away waiting to be released? No, the fact of the matter is that the majority of those were written by Co-Authors. Steve Pieczenik wrote the majority of those 2000 released books. Jerome Preisler another. The only Novel I can find penned by Tom that year was "The Bear and the Dragon", and reviews of it were less than stellar.
Why buy into it?
The biggest problem in this situation is you and me, the readers. We keep buying this snake oil packaged as a miracle cure and keep shelling out our hard earned dollars, for in my opinion an illegal marketing technique that obviously confuses and deceives the readers.
So I call for a boycott of all Co-authored novels that are not equally billed on the cover. Start supporting the authors that actually come up with their own story lines, write their own words and do not try to deceive us. There are so many up and coming authors that tell amazing stories and they deserve your money much more than the ones who deceive us. Stop supporting the hypocrisy and read some good novels.
I also call for the Authors to stand up and stop the deception. We want books written by your hand, or typed by your fingers. we want the story told as it comes out your twisted, brilliant, strange or just wonderful minds. We do not want to or will we stand for being deceived by the practice of Co-Authoring. There is no such thing. I have yet to meet two creative minds that could ever agree on releasing the same thing, written word or otherwise.