I first read this blog when Dear Author linked to it. And I was appalled then, but hey, it was Christmas Eve and I couldn't muster enough book rage to post about it. Peace on earth, good will to misguided authors, right? Even when I saw well-regarded people in the self-publishing industry such as Joel Friedlander support her methods.
But then Dear Author linked to it again today. Including a comment from Debra Holland, the author who "inspired" C.S. Lakin/Charlene Whitman.
Warning: teal deer behind the pagebreak.
The premise of C.S. Lakin's blog post:
"Hey Gang! Want to write your way to riches? Just follow what I, C.S. Lakin, did! And don't worry, I'm going to SELL YOU A BOOK DETAILING MY PATH so, you, too, can make money off the hard work of others!
Step 1: Look at the genres that sell on Amazon. Then look at the sub-niches for that genre. Don't worry if you've never read that genre or if you are SERIOUS LITERARY AUTUER and therefore trashy books are beneath you - those dollars rolling in will make you glad you turned your MFA diploma to the wall!
Step 2: Buy - or better yet, borrow (why spend YOUR money on trash?! The idea is to get readers to part with THEIR money) the top-selling books in that niche.
Step 3: Go through the top-selling books and take copious notes. Make sure you have plenty of clothespins to hold your nose closed against the stench, however,
Step 4: 'Write' your own book using your copious notes. But do change the names, however. (Just sayin'. We all know YOU'RE much smarter (and a better writer) than the bestselling author in the first place, so don't worry about changing many of the other details.)
Step 5: Call up the best-selling author in your niche and beg her for the name of her cover artist. Then call up the cover artist and pretend you are friends with the best-selling author. Beg the artist to create a cover for your masterpiece, claiming that best-selling author WANTS your book to ape theirs.
Step 6: Make up a pen name, natch. You don't want your friends, family or readers of your SERIOUS LITERARY FICTION to know that you are rolling with the genre trash.
Step 7: Create a new Twitter account and Facebook page for your pen name. Pretend that you aren't really doing any social media promotion, but follow book bloggers and other authors in your chosen genre to pretend you are one of them. Then tweet incessantly about your own book, plus the REAL BOOKS you wrote under your REAL NAME, as well as YOUR SIDE BUSINESS AS A FREELANCE EDITOR. Do this, oh, say, 27 times in one day (Jan. 16, to be precise).
Step 8: Sit back and watch the dollars roll in from gullible, unsophisticated readers who eat up your write-by-numbers trashy pablum.
Step 9: Write a book about how you stuck it to the stupid masses who read trashy genre novels so that other LITERARY AUTEURS like you can finally make money off writing, even if you can't publish under your real name because, reasons. Like, you're WAY too embarrassed to cop to it. But use your real name when showing off how smart you were to run this 'experiment.'"
Word cannot express just how...revolting I found Lakin's post. She just drips with condescension for romance authors, romance readers, and the genre as a whole. Apparently, according to her romance can be written by numbers and have a love for or any kind of affinity for the genre just isn't necessary. In fact, one can hate on the genre but love the dollars that roll in.
Look, I get it. People want to make money. That's fine. We all need to do it (well, those of us without trust funds. In which case we read and write about them ;-))
And romance IS formulaic. Boy meets girl, boy loses girl, boy gets girl back, they live happily ever after, the end. Can't deny that.
But I vehemently disagree that a successful romance writing career can be built by aping one book. In this case, aping Debra Holland while using Catherine Anderson's Cheyenne Amber for "research," as C.S. Lakin admits in a comment on the Barbara Rogan blog post (*headdesk* Really? You're going to use a ROMANCE NOVEL for HISTORICAL RESEARCH?!?!).
Romance is about the "feels." Period. And those can't be half-arsed. While I applaud Lakin on finding people who paid for this book, I wonder how many will return for "Charlene Whitman"'s next book?
I know I wouldn't. I read the sample. It is a festival of telling instead of showing. The characters are little more than stereotypes. The hero is introduced with tears in his eyes. Characters such as the butler and maid are introduced and sketched out, even though we will never see them again. The mother compliments the heroine on her art and tells her it is good enough to hang in a gallery, but then later we're told the mother only wants the heroine to get married and be a good wife.
It's a mess.
But hey, go buy Lakin's upcoming book so, you, too, can learn to write like this and profit from the unwashed readers.