When I saw The Wedding Date at Target, I picked it up. The premise was a trope I have always enjoyed–a fake date that turns into a real relationship.
When Alexa meets Drew, it’s in a hotel elevator that has stalled. Drew is there to be a groomsman at his ex’s wedding. Alexa is at the hotel visiting her sister. They get to talking; sparks fly. That she is black and he is white does nothing to the story. In fact, because the author does not use the character’s skin color as neither a negative or positive plot device, I forgot by the middle of the book they are even different in that way. I didn’t care, anyway.
Drew and Alexa are from different California cities, and throughout most of the book, they are flying back and forth to see each other on the weekends.
Drew is a pediatric doctor, and Alexa is the chief of staff for her city’s mayor. Their occupations are thrown into the plot as little side bits in an attempt to deepen their character arcs, and it doesn’t work that well. (More on that later!)
As most long-distance relationships go, there are disagreements and misunderstandings, and I have to admit by the middle of the book I started to skim.
The book ended how I would assume a romance would–happily ever after. And no, she didn’t relocate–he did. As a romance writer, I can appreciate the author made her male main character give a little, as a lot of times in books it is the woman who makes the compromises to keep the relationship going.
But also, as an indie writer and self-published author, I have to ask, “How the F did this get published?”
This is probably one of the most annoying things about traditional publishing. Traditional publishers can publish crap, while good indie writers can’t get an agent to save their lives.
I’m not saying this book is crap or didn’t deserve to be published–but I am saying this book could have used a lot more editing.
One thing that turned me off almost from the start was the use of repetitive words and phrases. As an indie, we’re taught word needs space–but this also includes phrasing. Can your female main character look up at your male main character 10 times a page?
Does it read well?
I would have loved to get ahold of her Word document and do a search for a list of “naughty” words.
Someone needed to because Drew kept putting his arm around Alexa’s waist, and every time I read it, it made me itch.
The story itself began to grow repetitive and mundane, and like I said, about the middle of the book I began to skim. There were only so many times I could read about them flying back and forth, having sex (that mostly faded to black, so I didn’t even have the sex scenes to look forward to) and taking the texts they sent each other when they weren’t together in the wrong way.
The ending came out the way I expected, but Alexa’s job, her sister’s backstory, and a kid with cancer made the plot some kind of soupy mess.
I want to be clear here. I am not blaming the author. She had a good premise, and she put forth a good effort.
Who I am blaming is her publishing house and the editing they failed to give her.
There are a few reasons for this:.
- They wanted to push the book out for marketing reasons or to catch a trend.
- Maybe the editor who acquired the book left the publishing house and little attention was paid to the book after that. (After listening to podcasts about the publishing industry I am surprised at how often this happens, and how much this hurts the author and the book.)
- The editor the author was stuck with was new or had too much on his or her plate.
No matter what the reason, however, it is frustrating for an indie author to buy a traditionally published book full of mistakes we are told to stop doing in our own work.
And it’s frustrating to know an author can get a book deal when indies who have stellar books in their possession can’t find agents.
There are probably reasons for this, too. She knew someone in the industry and she used her connections. She may have won a contest. Or simply, she just got lucky.
But that won’t give me my $13 back plus tax.
And I suppose the one thing that makes me the most upset is that the midlist is shrinking. Big publishers go for the big books, the books that will bring in millions like James Patterson’s and Bill Clinton’s The President is Missing.
Few midlist books are printed every year. In fact, there are imprints who publish digital only books like Carina Press. This is disappointing to an author who hopes to see their book on a shelf. Any shelf. Even Target. Maybe especially Target. It’s not an accident the book section is across the aisle from Toys.
What can a writer hoping to query and publish a book take from all this?
That the publishing industry is broken?
We knew that already.
It says to me I may never want to be a part of a traditional publishing industry.
Because I expect that if Roxane Gay, who is a New York Times bestselling author, would be willing to blurb a book, and that book is a Target Club Pick, it’s going to be good and worth my money.
And again, this isn’t a blast on the debut novelist. It’s a blast on the publishing industry that would publish a book that needed so much more work.
I know books aren’t for everyone and this particular book, or perhaps even author because I’ll never read her again, just wasn’t my cup of tea. (I drink coffee anyway.)
But a scan of reviews on Amazon told me it wasn’t a cup of tea for others as well. (Who also may only drink coffee.)
Even someone reading The Wedding Date as a reader and not a writer can still say a book grated on their nerves even if they can’t pinpoint why.
I don’t expect to like every book I read–that’s a given. But with the resources of a large publishing house–this book was published by Jove, an imprint of Penguin–I shouldn’t dislike a book because of the editing or lack thereof.
I wish the best to Jasmine Guillory. I hope she can come into her own as a writer without help or she seeks it out on her own (if she happens to read reviews) because her publishing house certainly isn’t going to give her any assistance.
What do you think of the plight of a first-time querying author? Do we have a chance, or should we just give up?
Let me know!
I’m going to reference this blog post the next time my writing group has a discussion about trad v. indie.
It couldn’t have been said more eloquently.
Thanks. It’s difficult to criticize without appearing to attack the author. And I hope I didn’t come across like I did. A trad-pubbed book has many eyes on it and there’s no excuse for poor editing. 😦
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