Sharing An Editor’s Perspective On the Quality Debate: Meet Jamie Chavez

Jamie Chavez
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As one who is hellbent on making sure my points, my theses, are all thoroughly clear and understood, I find that when evidence suggests I’ve not succeeded, I occasionally go overboard with “clarifications,” addendums, updated material, etc., in a quest to correct the problem. What I discover is, more often than not, there really is no problem, just the dissent of those who do not share my opinion (sometimes with horribly bad manners!). So when a tweeting follower sent me an article that supported a controversial theme I covered recently, I paid attention.

When I published Dear Self-Published Author: Do NOT Write Four Books a Year, a strongly worded (I’ll admit 🙂 ) opinion piece about the “quality vs. quantity” debate that inspired prodigious pushback from angry writers, I considered that I’d taken, perhaps, too broad a brushstroke about who ought to publish in volume (those who vigilantly take the time and care to put out excellent work regardless of how often) vs. those who shouldn’t (anyone who doesn’t). But no amount of clarification would mollify the angry mobs who found my theory heinous, so I left it where I could and got on with my life.

Jamie Chavez

Then this article was sent my way, That’s Not Writing–It’s Typing, and I felt the writer, developmental editor/writer, Jamie Chavez, not only echoed some version of my thesis, but very possibly did a better job of articulating the issues. Have a read:

A good friend of mine proofs for a small firm that publishes category romances. Her social media commentary about it is hilarious (and most of it unprintable in a family blog like this one, though recently I learned the word throbbing, among others, is currently out of fashion in the romance novel biz).

It’s a time-honored, legitimate publishing endeavor, the writing of romances—and whether they are PG or sexy or hard-core, there’s a huge fan base of smart, savvy romance readers out there. Don’t believe me? Check out the Smart Bitches Trashy Books website, which has been doing a booming review business for ten years now.

If you’re a writer, then, this is a huge market you might want to tap, n’est-ce pas?

Oui. As Entertainment Weekly notes, “Romance novels were once the book world’s dirty little secret. No more. Thanks in part to e-readers and Fifty Shades of Grey, they’re now the hottest fiction genre going.” Even Jane Friedman, to whose blog I subscribe, wrote a piece about a highly successful self-published author, Bella Andre, and what other writers could learn from her path to success.

Who is this Bella Andre? I wondered. EW says,

In 2010 Bella Andre was dropped by Random House after her firefighter romance series failed to generate sales. She’d spent the previous seven years shuffling between publishers, and now it seemed that her career was over. … Some friends and romance readers encouraged the writer to self-publish. So in July 2010 she uploaded the fittingly titled Love Me—a sequel that her then publisher, Simon & Schuster, had never wanted to put out. She sent personal notes to every fan who’d ever contacted her during her career, urging them to seek out the new book on Amazon. “I probably made $8,000 that month, which was bigger than the advance of $5,000 I’d been offered by Plume, and I retained all the rights,” she says. Five months later she self-published another sequel, and within weeks she became the first self-published author to hit the top 25 on Barnes & Noble’s Nook best-seller list, selling 1,000 books a day.

I didn’t know that when I read Friedman’s piece, though. So I looked up this woman’s best-selling books. They must be good, I thought. And I bought one, in spite of the dreadful cover. (That should have been my first clue.)

Continue reading full article….

Excellent piece. Excellent points. Thank you, Jamie, for your wise, experienced, and useful contribution to the debate.  

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2 thoughts on “Sharing An Editor’s Perspective On the Quality Debate: Meet Jamie Chavez

  1. Brenda Perlin

    Thanks for sharing. And you both articulate very, very well.

    I love, “None of them are typing out six ‘books’ a year. They are writing; they are sweating the details. All of these authors work with editors to shape their manuscripts to standards they can be proud of.”



    1. Thank you, Brenda. And I agree about that line. So important, I think, for writers to hold themselves to the highest standards, whatever genre, whatever volume. It will be interesting to see if the pitchfork crowd that railed after me on the same topic find her piece, but it’s a shame that any advice that promotes respect for quality is ever excoriated or dismissed. We can always learn a thing or two!


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