What makes a good book, good?

Is it the prose?

The grammar?

The originality?

Not really unless your into those things. After having a moment of insecurity and wondering if my stories have what it takes to be latched onto by the readers, I googled the question: ‘What makes a good book?’

Turns out, it’s all about the feels, man!

The first link that appears is a list of people saying that they want good content, to learn something, and to go on a fun adventure. But how do you achieve this? Most people will read a book and think of it as a whole entity, not deconstruct singular elements. That can make things difficult when you want to know the exact ingredients on how to create a good book.

To start to understand that it’s human emotions that is the umbrella of a good story, you need to understand people. People are driven primarily by their feelings, we are emotional creatures. We love, grieve, seek out pleasure, get envious of others. Yes, there is also a logical component as well, but unfortunately, that comes second.

So by looking at emotions, we need to look at what goes into them. Sometimes it’s relatable characters in situations that we may never realistically encounter. It’s people going through a change that changes them. It’s enjoying the adventure because reading is a safe activity. It’s learning something with the character. That’s what people look for in a good book.

This is where the more technical aspects come in. You also need to be competent, though not the best, in your sentence structure and grammar. If you as an author cannot explain clearly what you are writing, then your readers will not know either. You need to know things like where this storyline going? Where will it end? What scenes go in what order. How are your characters changing?

In my opinion, I’m starting to think that this part of the book creation is given the wrong type of attention. Articles on the web go on about the structure of scenes and your grammar etc, but it only works when lumped with a storyline with all the feels.

Remember this. Perfectly composed sentences do nothing for a boring book. But average sentence structure describing how your character gets thrown under the bus will keep the wheels moving. 

Reading other’s bad reviews helps me

Sometimes I like to read bad book reviews so I know what people hate about a particular story. Is it the characterisation, verisimilitude, basic sentence structure? Then I imagine that my books are getting these reviews and it prompts me to work harder so I don’t end up creating such a mess. I would be so embarrassed to have spent so much time on a story and publish it only for it to be completely shit.

Take the YOU out of your writing

Writing is personal, fun, private. Writing is professional, demanding, public. Above all writing is something that comes from inside us. Sometimes it’s shit, sometime’s is spot on, and most times it’s nothing overly special.

I’ve written shit, shit that hopefully will never see an audience. And in the future I’ll produce some tip-top stuff, but now most of it is nothing special. And it will be the same for you.

But don’t go and cry the afternoon away in you bed, contemplating your wasted existence. Most often nothing special is perfectly fine and accepted. Think of some writing/books that you think are shit, but people around you like. Not everyone can write a critically acclaimed piece, some settle for the average reading level and that is what gets published. Broadly speaking you only need to write well enough for the reader to understand your idea.

There is an article that asks people to take themselves out of their business idea(s) so that they can be able to objectively see if what they imagined is worth anything. And so should every person writing.

Yes that story you wrote is your baby and maybe it’s going to be your life’s work. But some babies turn into shit people and you your life’s work might never be of value to other people. The point of this comparison is that not every idea is good and if you took out your subjective and personal self from it then you’ll be able to see that. Some stories aren’t worth being told because, well they’re shit. They don’t have all the things that makes a good story. Things like;

  • character development,
  • reader engagement,
  • actual plot arc,
  • conflict,
  • other stuff that makes a story worthwhile.

Heard the phrase kill your darlings? 

Do it!

Look at you work and cut all that useless or boring shit out of it. If you have to re-write the entire thing, do it or ditch it. That novel you’re writing, has only enough content for a novella? Publish it as a novella. That one idea of yours doesn’t fit into that book your writing, well guess what? It doesn’t fit. Set it aside for something else. Think someone won’t understand that sentence, paragraph or idea written in front of you? Ditch it. Now you have no shit writing in front of you.

You can now proceed 🙂 Good Luck.

Does self publishing failure exist?

Just spent some time cruising through posts on the freshly pressed section of word press and decided to look under the search term ‘self publish failure’.

But nothing came up!

Does that mean no one can fail when it comes to self publishing? Or is that people’s ideas of failure is not that simple?

When to simply upload something online equals success then what equals failure?

Is it;

  • people not buying your work?
  • people not viewing your work?
  • people not caring about your work?
  • people not thinking it is not well written?

If fellow readers/viewers have this opinion or action towards your work then would you consider yourself a failure? Or would you consider someone else in the same position as a failure?

Some people would say yes others no. What defines successful self publishing?

Write what you think in the comments section.

It’s not self-published vs traditional published anymore, it’s professional vs unprofessional.

I came across an article called ‘How To Self-Publish A Bestseller: Publishing 3.0‘ by James Altucher. It talked about his recent success with his latest book ‘Choose Yourself‘, but that is not what I was mainly interested in. What I was interested in was that he mentioned today’s publishing isn’t divided between self-published and traditionally published books anymore, but divided between professional and unprofessional.

It got me thinking at how the industry has changed in recent times. While I’ve only recently come into it (last couple of years) I have not had the opinion that self-published books hold the stigma that seemed to come with self publishing simply because I entered at a time when there are good quality self-published stories that can be accessed by a large amount of people.

In the past people had the idea that the way a book was published dictated the actual narrative quality inside. But any person who reads a lot of books will come across traditionally published books and think ‘how did this piece of shit get published?’

I know I have.

It amazes me that such poorly written/expressed/edited or just plain terrible stories ever make it past the first round in a publishing house. Did everyone involved have a brain aneurysm or something? Come one guys! You have access to more resources than a single individual, and yet you somehow end up with dribble.

But in today’s world it is not where you publish or the platform that you publish on. It is how you publish it. Have you done it professionally or unprofessionally? Have you taken you time to edit and re-write bad sections of your novel?

Overall people now look at the quality of something, not where it came from.