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Debut authors are all the rage right now: publishers and marketers are enamored of them; readers build Goodreads lists around them. And while many authors have stunning debuts (I understand LOOKING FOR ALIBRANDI is pretty great), there’s a disturbing trend toward “hype” that’s unproductive for the craft. Learning to write is a lifelong process, and you need breathing room to cultivate it, not pressure to produce Part Two in less than a year because your first book sold at auction and you’ve contracted for a series. Seasoned authors like Marchetta (and Megan Whalen Turner, and Tobin Anderson, and Philip Pullman, and…) have blessedly had that breathing room.
When I replied to Elizabeth after receiving her post, I told her that I never really thought much about the popularity of debut authors nowadays. There have been some debut novels that I’ve thoroughly enjoyed reading – like Saving June by Hannah Harrington and Something Like Normal by Trish Doller – but in general, I don’t think my blog focuses on them. Or on new releases either. Why? Probably because I buy most of the books that I read and I tend to rely on recommendations and reviews to help me decide what to get. So I wait for feedback from authors or fellow bloggers before I purchase a book. There are exceptions to this, of course. There are times when I get lucky enough to read a galley weeks or months before a book’s release date. I also have several authors on my auto-buy list and I grab their books as soon as I can get my hands on them.
Looking back on my reviews, it does seem like I read more older titles than new releases. Honestly, I haven’t really noticed it before. It’s not like I make a point of choosing novels that haven’t been released recently. It’s just that love hearing about other readers’ old favorites, especially when I feel like we share similar tastes in books. I also love pimping my own favorites, which is why I enjoy participating in the Retro Friday meme hosted by Angie. I get to promote older titles that way.
As for hype surrounding books, even though I’m not an author, I do agree with what Elizabeth said about writing being a lifelong learning process. I really hope hype doesn’t contribute to the pressure that authors feel to produce a new book as fast as they can. And I think most of us are wary of hype anyway, which is why we wait for reviews from bloggers we trust before we dive into a hyped-up book (or at least that’s what I do).
What about you, have you noticed the trend for debut authors? Do read a lot of debut novels or would you rather read older titles? And what do you think of the hype surrounding books?