This article in the Boston Globe only highlights what I've been feeling for the last three years:
Essentially, top selling authors are being pressured to churn out a book a year, because more and more it's becoming about putting all your publishing eggs in one basket. Many publishers are dropping authors that they don't believe can produce the mega-seller, resulting in publishers throwing all their resources at those who are proven best sellers. Which is nice if you're one of the chosen few, but it means cranking those suckers out. I should say that several authors go on record that this isn't a problem for them, while others feel that it seriously compromises the quality of their writing.
Coming at this from a reader's POV, I can see the difference. I'm reading authors that I've loved for many years and encountering plot busts and errors that are NOT characteristic of these authors. I think it would be one thing if most publishers were pushing their authors and then offering them the support vis a vis Herculean vetting of their manuscripts. But that's not happening either. True, being an author I have a built-in radar for plot busts, but my husband isn't an author, and he and I regularly discuss what we see as disconnects and out and out eyebrow-raising plot machinations to get from Point A to Point D. If an author had six months more, I think a lot of authors would have an opportunity to "clean-up" these glitches.
I also should state that my publisher is a breath of sanity in this strange new world. They believe in publishing books, not widgets. The love of words is still out there, but it's getting harder and harder to find amidst the hard sell: of widgets that happen to have words.
This article also has stats in the decline of book sales, and I wonder if it ever occurs to large publishers that maybe their sales are declining because the quality and diversity of their selection is declining. Hmmm? Possible connection? Inquiring minds want to know!
I know that I now think twice about shelling out $25.00 for a book when the previous book in this series had a serious plot bust and a tired feel to it. As in, it READS like the author had only a year to produce it.