Worst bestselling/bestseller authors? (And why?!)

A well-meaning friend once lent me a military-thriller novel called Nimitz Class by Patrick Robinson. It was so bad, so cheesy and hamfisted, the characters so clunky and one-dimensional, that I still can’t understand why the first prospective publisher who saw the manuscript did not arrange to have the author killed. And I have an even harder time understanding why Robinson is apparently a best-selling author with several other titles published.

What bestselling/bestseller* authors do you think are the worst? And what explains their success?

In this thread I was surprised to learn that in the modern publishing industry, a “bestseller” is not simply a book that sells many copies but a book in a defined “bestseller” genre. I’m asking about writers who qualify under either definition, as Robinson apparently does.

I nominate Robert Ludlum. I found that after I’d read three or four of his spy novels, all the rest were just ripoffs of the earlier ones. The plots weren’t surprising, the action was all thud and blunder, and the characterizations and dialogue were stiff and uninteresting.

Clive Cussler and WEB Griffith. Both suffer from roughly the same problems: wooden prose, characters of marginal interest and poor development, and a tendency to repeat themselves. In addition, Cussler suffers from a streak of ridiculousness in plot.

As for success, I assume that it is due to subject matter, as I can’t think of any other explanation.

To clarify: I’m asking about authors who are “bestsellers” either because their books made the bestseller lists, or because they write in the “bestseller” genre; not necessarily writers who (like Robinson) qualify under both definitions.

Here I go, once again, making more friends.

Stephen King, Dean Koontz and Dan Brown. They’re great for what they are; fluff. The kind of stuff you can read in one sitting and put your brain on autopilot for. Fantastic for after work when all you want to do is vegetate. Also, anyone who thinks that the Da Vinci Code is non-fiction should die. Now.

This, of course, is just my opinion. Please don’t eat my face for expressing it. :frowning:

Lahaye and Jenkins are the worst on the planet. Not even close.

I really cannot disagree with you on this, but please take some time and read “Deception Point” by Dan Brown. Perhaps you will then include him in the Top Three.

Robin Cook? I read a “novel” by him that so wretchedly awful that I kept reading it, marvelling how it could have been published.

Also, I literally (not figuratively, but literally) rolled my eyes so often while reading it, they began to hurt.

And I kept laughing aloud at the “prose” it contained.

Well, yeah, that one too. Unfortunately, I now hat to PIT you for bringing this up, after thousands of dollars of psychotherapy to erase Cook from my brain.

The perpetual success of Mary Higgins Clark just baffles me. I used to work in a used bookstore, and the Mary Higgins Clark stuff was in constant demand. The buyers seemed to have brains, too. Dunno what’s the appeal. Dull, poorly written, repetitive, unimaginative pap, it is. But that’s just me. Millions of folks obviously feel differently.

I second this whole-heartedly. I stopped reading her books when I was nineteen because I figured out the clue to all her shocking twist endings.

For those of you who don’t want to figure it out, here’s this handy little spoiler box.

It’s always the guy closest to the main female character.

That’s what I opened this thread to post. Jenkins a greater bad than LaHaye.

I can think of three best-selling writers whose lack of characterization skills really made me regret reading them: David Baldacci, the aforementioned Robin Cook, and Steve Alten (whose *Meg * had more personality than any of the human characters in the book).

In the horror genre, I will never again waste time reading a Bentley Little book.

Ah, Clockwork, you’re a brave one for listing King, but I absolutely agree with you about him, Koontz, Brown, and almost all the others that were posted.

There’s so much bad writing it’s scary. One reason I re-read so many classics.

I agree. Stephen King says Little is the best horror writer writing today (in a recent Entertainment Weekly column). “Best” has to be relative. Compared to the others, maybe Little is the best. How sad.

I tried to read a Danielle Steele novel, I really did. I’d always turned my nose up at them, but I figured, what the hell, they’re best sellers, how bad could they be? I’m just being a snob. I mean, I used to look down my nose at mystery novels and found out that a few of them were some of the best books I’d ever read.

Oh, man. I got up to about page 30 and just couldn’t take it anymore. What a cookie-cutter, fill-in-the-blanks, formulaic piece of crap. Don’t talk to me about Stephen King or Dean Koontz. These guys are Ernest Hemmingway and Eudora Welty compared to Danielle Steele. At least they can write well formed sentences.

I’ve never read LaHaye, and from I’ve heard, he may be the new nadir or bestsellers.

Jeez Louise.

“I’ve never read LaHaye, and from what I’ve heard, he may be the new nadir *for *bestsellers.”

It’s really Jerry Jenkins, not Lahaye who really writes the Left Behind books.

It seems very unfair that Lahaye gets co-credit just for telling him what will happen “apocalypticaly”.

Chris Ryan, Piers Anthony and Jean Aul are the worst authors I’ve encountered.

Egads, you need to read some of the others mentioned in this thread. I actually tried a Danielle Steele book. Once.

No way that even the most formulaic Xanth, or Ayla book can match that. None. (Well, okay - not the worst ones of each author that I’d read. I can’t speak for their most recent volumes.)