The misery that sell.
It makes no difference that they are poor written, the only thing that matters is that they have to be true, and horrible. What is it that entices all these readers who loves the genre “a true story”? And what responsibility do the publishing house have towards them that retell what has been the most terrible thing in their entire life?
In real life there aren’t many that have the energy to listen to what they have to say; The victim of the child-abuser, the drug addict, the one who’s mental problems cause problems for her next of kin or the physically abused wife… But safely in a well-packaged book their life’s stories are turned into gold. Self experienced difficulties of different degree of difficulty sell like butter and if the title page says “a true story” you can be sure that, if not to the high culture in the daily magazines, this book will with greater safety anyway reach the bookcases of the grocery-store… Only in my home country ,Sweden, the hundreds of readers can be counted. A survey about young readers habits shows that these types of stories are the one that, outstanding, are borrowed out the most in the libraries. The more shocking a story is, the more tempting it is. Abuse sell, abused women even better and tortured children the best. No history seems too terrible for telling, if you give it a crumb of hope in the end.
Before people wanted to read stories like Pollyanna and stories by Astrid Lindgren, Sweden’s most widely read author. Now they want to read horrible stories about a little boys growth, that is what really tempts these days. One example of this is “A boy called it” by Dave Pelzer, a hair-raising tale about the authors’ growth and his sadistic mother.
An awful experience is today popular like never before, the reason is perhaps that people wants to read stories about people who had worse then them, but still have made it threw. Because it’s important: there are always a way out of the misery. Another angle of the fact that people wants to read stories about them who have worse then them is pure egoism...
It doesn’t have to be well written. Rough, straight and dramatic doesn’t need manner and high standard. If you want the readers to weep bitterly or be breathless then all you need to do is to play on the strings that already exist. “Mom, please don’t!” or “If you blab then I will kill you!” is effective and very used, both in the dialogue of the story and as the title of the book. If the readers seem ready to chew in the most hair-raising narrative and language then they will be almost oversensitive on another point, ant that is: the veracity of the story itself. The smallest cue about that these shocking stories, might not be true, will end in a boycott of it….
Many people can have – and have – objections towards these harsh reality stories, but money speaks for them. No one begrudge someone who has experienced this, some coin for her tragedy. However you can ask yourself if all those who choose to open themselves up for a publishing house really can see the consequence of it. Is the girl who have been batter by her father and the boy who was sold to a filthy old man, prepared to, as an adult, face the sensational journalism that are hungry for news and the surroundings curios gaze? And are their family’s really ready for it? It’s a incredible walk of a tightrope/ balancing. The same time as you want to earn money on the deal, you need to make sure that the people involved isn’t going to get harmed in the run. No one should have to be sacrificed for the miser of the publishing house.
This is worth considering.
- Do you think that stories like these, stories about misery, are necessary?