I don't claim to be a brilliant writer. But I really try my best to raise my level of writing to a professional level. Like many of you, my work has been rejected countless times by agents and publishers. Penguin Books were interested in one of my novellas, but they expected me to re-write it into a local setting. I turned them down!
Now I'm about to publish the same work through KDP (the way I like it!). Yet a lot of the writing I come across published by independent writers seems amateurish. I've spent at least twelve years honing my writing skills and expect to reap financial rewards for my hard work.
Am I missing the plot somehow? I've always assumed that the better written your book, consumers will take note of it. Conversely, books not written that well (not for lack of talent, but simply not crafted well enough), tend to be ignored. Is there still a market out there for really well-written books, or is the water becoming increasingly muddied?
Would be interested to hear what some of you folks out there think.
My view is: the more time you spend writing, honing and revising, the better chance you have of readers taking you seriously as an author!
Part of being a good writer is having good technique and that's what gets better with experience and practice. Put enough time and energy into any endeavor you can get better at it.
You can have great technique and write an extremely boring book. Books that sell well have a spark that makes people want to read it and I don't necessarily think that spark gets all that better with practice and effort. If that spark is present a lot of readers (not all) will forgive poor technique and still buy it and read it.
Bias obscures reality and it's impossible for an author to be unbiased about his or her own work. If your book isn't selling, it may not be your technique that's the problem. Your book may just be boring. Any book that sells well by definition has something in it that people want to pay for to read--regardless of whether or not it has bad grammar and a multitude of typos.
By all means every writer should hone his craft, but craft alone won't make you a successful writer. Whereas, a really entertaining book with a lot of writing mistakes can still and often does sell a lot of copies.
In my opinion, Dan Brown's [i]Da Vinci Code[/i] was poorly written and even had a disappointing ending, but something about it caught the public's eye and it was a smash hit.
I guess you just have to have a certain magic, which you can't describe until you find it. Plus a bit of luck.
Like you, I made the commitment to produce the best work I can at any given time during my writing career. To constantly strive for improvement.
Also like you, I've had moments of 'WTF?' upon coming across poorly written stories that are hitting Top 10/100 lists had have scads of glowing reviews.
I've come to the conclusion there aren't any set rules concerning 'taste', and maybe I'm just missing something when it comes to the poorly written stories I come across.
I mean, Twilight? I give the author kudos for creating characters I loathed at first sight, but good night, I wanted to throw the book at the wall by page 6. And I LOVE vampire stories.
Then again, I loved the Harry Potter series (as did my two kids), and there are a lot of people who think it sucks, who complain that it's a rip-off of just about every other fantasy tale in existence, and that the writing is terrible.
I agree that trying to improve is a solid habit to build into your work. But success is mainly in luck in my opinion. The Da Vinci Code was controversial and at just the right time. The Twilight series simply recreated the ideal of eternal love for a new young generation. Taste is everything and taste is impossible to predict. Write well. write often. But most of all - just write.
Vampires Suck was so much better, if that tells you anything.
I wouldn't call it 'bad', so much as extremely frustrating to read. Bella remarks that Edward is looking at her like he wants to kill her at one point, and for some reason, instead of running screaming away from the psycho dude, she instead dangles herself like bait in front of him continuously.
And he's a freakin' stalker, sneaking into her bedroom at night to watch her sleep, and then he becomes her over controlling boyfriend that she just can't live without.
It's disgusting. It's not a romance. It's the teenage girl's guide to finding a man who will victimize her.
Ahem. I may have rather strong feelings about that particular book. Sorry.
Just wanted to respond to the one comment I wholeheartedly agree with, bestnamestaken. Da Vinci Code, while compelling conceptually (and NOT Brown's original idea) is the most atrociously written novel I have ever read. His style is sophomoric and his dramatic choices just plain stoopid.
I liked the movie mostly because I didn't have to sit through Brown's inane prose.
I hate to be a wet blanket, but unfortunately whether or not we can sell our books is not governed by whether or not they are good or bad writing.
The issue we face here at amazon/kdp is a marketing one.
Think of amazon/kdp as a book shop the size of superbowl. How is anyone ever going to find YOUR book?
As more and more commercial publishers load up the book stands with name authors and known titles, the self publishers, the writers who are the backbone of the industry (not the increasingly VERY few who get published commercially and in print) are being pushed out the gates and into the carpark.
THIS IS THE ISSUE WE SHOULD BE ASKING AMAZON/KDP TO ADDRESS!
What we need is a level playing field (instead of little old you and me trying to compete with JK Rowlings - I mean, what chance, really?)
BUT that won't happen if all of us 'indies' sit back and moan about it.
Are you serious, or just a moaner?
Okay, let's find out.
I've just set up an email address solely and only for you to register your wish to petition Amazon/KDP FOR THAT LEVEL PLAYING FIELD.
I don't want your life stories. I just want you to say
"Put me on the list, I want a fairer deal from Amazon/Kindle"
Leave your name, your book title(s) and your contact email.
If enough people respond, we can get a plan together to approach Amazon/KDP as a group. Remember folks, strength in numbers.
Am I legit? I hope so. Google Bruce Gregor Hodge or Scarpthorne. I think that should prove it.
Here's that email address