Author Topic: What is a "Good" Book?  (Read 8058 times)  

Offline BellaJames

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Re: What is a "Good" Book?
« Reply #50 on: June 17, 2017, 03:47:11 PM »
Sure it is. They're called audiobooks.  :)

I was going to mention the same thing. I love audiobooks and I can do so many things while I'm listening to one.

Offline Mercedes Vox

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Re: What is a "Good" Book?
« Reply #51 on: June 17, 2017, 04:00:12 PM »
I was going to mention the same thing. I love audiobooks and I can do so many things while I'm listening to one.

My hobby is cooking, so most nights I prepare fairly elaborate meals. I listen to audiobooks on my Kindle Fire using an awesome set of Bluetooth headphones, and all that tedious mise en place-ing passes by much quicker.

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Online Dpock

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Re: What is a "Good" Book?
« Reply #52 on: June 17, 2017, 04:08:57 PM »
Same boat here. I am stunned by the absolutely horrid writing, construction, and craft of most bestsellers.

I think Mercia nailed it: better marketing.  ::)

That's what stumped me initially when I started to study romance categories, then Rosalind J. convinced me to look deeper than the top forty (of the top 100) to find authors with evergreen chops whose books reflected the true nature of the genre.

I haven't studied other genres so I don't know if they have similar problems (a lot of not-so-great authors crowding the top of the lists).









Offline Laran Mithras

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Re: What is a "Good" Book?
« Reply #53 on: June 17, 2017, 04:27:58 PM »
That makes me wonder, Dpock. Despite the advice to write a good book, does it really matter when the readers are willing to suffer through egregiously poorly written nonsense to feel good?

Shouldn't writing to market be a bunch of "feel good" tropes poorly strung together so as to appeal to the basest instinct?

Why all this advice to "write well" or "write your best"?
 

Offline Captain Cranky

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Re: What is a "Good" Book?
« Reply #54 on: June 17, 2017, 04:53:40 PM »
That's what stumped me initially when I started to study romance categories, then Rosalind J. convinced me to look deeper than the top forty (of the top 100) to find authors with evergreen chops whose books reflected the true nature of the genre.

I haven't studied other genres so I don't know if they have similar problems (a lot of not-so-great authors crowding the top of the lists).

I can confirm (at least from my personal perspective) that it's not just romance. I'm finding some of the same issues in UF too. You make a great point about finding authors deeper than the top of the lists, who reflect the genre much better, it's easy to forget that you don't need to dominate lists to be making a decent income.

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Re: What is a "Good" Book?
« Reply #55 on: June 17, 2017, 04:57:44 PM »
Wow - such a shifting, moving, and flowing liquid is this question.  I don't think we'll ever be able to come up with a satisfying response because there is so much subjectivity in this loaded question, and what is considered good writing today may not be considered good writing five, ten, twenty years from now.

I love reading the classics.  However, if you look at much of classic literature, it doesn't follow today's "acceptable" standards of writing (POV, Show vs. Tell, etc., etc.).  But the one thing they had that has lasted throughout time is an interesting, engaging storyline that keeps pulling readers back in for more (as evidenced by the fact that they continue to sell a hundred years and more later).

I've read countless books from the big publishers to indie that were cleanly written, met structural expectations with POV etc., and were well edited - BUT they bored me out of my mind!!!  In my tiny little world, a story is good when my eyelids are glued open and to the page at 3:00 in the morning because I can't close the dang thing and put it aside.  For me, story always trumps structure (unless there are tons of mistakes on every single page that keep me from becoming immersed).

Is the ability to write an engaging story innate or can it be taught?  That's a question I'm not qualified to answer, so I'll leave it for better minds to quantify.  I just know within the first few pages if a story is for me or not, but I don't know if I'd ever be able to put a finger on exactly why.

Offline Dolphin

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Re: What is a "Good" Book?
« Reply #56 on: June 17, 2017, 05:00:07 PM »
I don't think anyone would say the 'Fast and Furious franchise' are oscar winning movies but they are so entertaining that they are good fun movies. Since the 5th movie, they have turned up the action, taken bigger risks and more importantly have focused on a supportive diverse surrogate family. They are no longer just street racing movies. They are emotional movies too. You start caring about the members of the team.

Yeah, one of the things that's interesting about those movies is that they're more than just action. They're filled with what Jim Butcher calls sequels, and not just [action] scenes. They're following the same fundamental story structures that you'd find in a cozy mystery or historical romance.

That makes me wonder, Dpock. Despite the advice to write a good book, does it really matter when the readers are willing to suffer through egregiously poorly written nonsense to feel good?

Shouldn't writing to market be a bunch of "feel good" tropes poorly strung together so as to appeal to the basest instinct?

Why all this advice to "write well" or "write your best"?

To me, what Dan is asking is what, precisely, is good about those books. You gotta figure out why they're working, and learn how you can apply that to your own work. That's what I've been trying to draw out. That's how we go from "Oh it's simple: write a good book," to "Here's what 'Write a good book' means in practice."

Otherwise, what's the point? If there's truly no redeeming qualities in those books, then why try? Why write at all? Clearly you won't succeed because of merit. Improving your craft is pointless, because nobody cares. If you do find an audience, it's probably because your work is [crap] too. It's all just luck and marketing and nobody gives a damn.

That worldview is useless. It's nihilistic, self-pitying, self-defeating nonsense. It's what Steve Pressfield calls "resistance."

They're good books, Bront. Figure out why.

For me, story always trumps structure (unless there are tons of mistakes on every single page that keep me from becoming immersed).

Could you expand on that?

To me, story is structure.

Online Dpock

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Re: What is a "Good" Book?
« Reply #57 on: June 17, 2017, 05:34:17 PM »
That makes me wonder, Dpock. Despite the advice to write a good book, does it really matter when the readers are willing to suffer through the egregiously poorly written nonsense to feel good?

Shouldn't writing to market be a bunch of "feel good" tropes poorly strung together so as to appeal to the basest instinct?

Why all this advice to "write well" or "write your best"?

It's good advice but not essential if income is your only goal.


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Re: What is a "Good" Book?
« Reply #58 on: June 17, 2017, 06:17:54 PM »
You see, what I'm reading is this notion that "what sells is crap and if I have to write crap to be a success I don't want to be a success."

You don't have to write crap to be a success.

Writing crappy fiction isn't want made those successful books sell.

It was other stuff. It was the story and how it was told.

Write well, but also write a great story. Make it so compelling for your genre and category that your reader can't stop turning pages and feels satisfied when they turn the last page.

It may be true that some or many of the bestsellers are technically or objectively not written well in the sense of prose or depth or whatever else you think qualifies as good writing.

Ultimately, it's the story and how it's told -- not the prose -- that matters.

Readers are not going to turn up their noses and well-writen compelling stories that hold their interest until the end and satisfy.

It's just that they won't close the book on a less well written compelling story that holds their interest until the end that satisfies.

Go ahead and write well, but make darn sure it's a great story and compelling!


Offline Nic

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Re: What is a "Good" Book?
« Reply #59 on: June 17, 2017, 10:48:49 PM »
That makes me wonder, Dpock. Despite the advice to write a good book, does it really matter when the readers are willing to suffer through egregiously poorly written nonsense to feel good?

Shouldn't writing to market be a bunch of "feel good" tropes poorly strung together so as to appeal to the basest instinct?

Why all this advice to "write well" or "write your best"?

I'd say "know your audience". There is an audience for poorly written nonsense and unfortunately this audience is so huge in numbers, that these books outsell the rest.

The movie example further above is perfect. The Fast and Furious franchise is so awful it hurts. It's geared to the tastes of the American teenagers and young adults bracket. It's a summer movie par excellence and would be so boring to me that I'd fall asleep in the cinema despite the noise. It doesn't have any artistic virtue at all and as storytelling goes it tells a story I don't care about. Now look again at what I said its audience is.

Both, in books and in movies - or in any other art for that matter - the success these franchises have because they have a huge audience doesn't mean they are good. They just sell well. I further above said that just because Big Macs sell well doesn't mean they are good food. In fact they are the very opposite of good food. They make you ill, if you consume them regularly, and they are a highly processed mixture appealing to your most basic food needs without actually giving you a good nutrition value. What's worse, they also don't educate your palate and your knowledge of nutrition. The exact same is the case for these poorly written books and awful movies.

So you can either decide to write to mass taste, or you can write to a much smaller audience of people who value, like and buy good books. Just don't expect any of these good books to end up on bestseller lists often. When they do that's a surprise and usually the consequence of superior marketing as well (a Nobel or Pulitzer prize will put many a good books on a bestseller list, books which few readers even knew existed before that).

Offline BellaJames

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Re: What is a "Good" Book?
« Reply #60 on: June 17, 2017, 11:55:25 PM »
Somehow I deleted my own post on page 2.

The other thing with movies like 'Fast and furious', 'Avengers', 'Transformers' and 'Guardians of the galaxy' is that they have repeat moviegoers.
 They are so entertaining and fun that people go back to see them mutiple times. I saw one guy say he saw 'Pirates of the Caribbean, dead man's chest' 14 times. Another guy is going to see Fast 8 for the third time.

The producers, directors, screenwriters and actors behind the 'Fast and furious' franchise understand what their audience like and give them more of the same (family, crazy stunts) and then turn it up with every movie. The word family is used more and more in each movie. They introduced more characters that the audience could connect to in each film. They made the relationships between them more stronger.
 The bad guys have got more dangerous with every movie. The enemy used to be another street racer in LA who thinks he runs the local streets. It was also a local police officer (Brian). Now it's international high tech terrorist. I see people on youtube already talking about seeing fast 8 three times.


If you can write a book which readers say they enjoyed and they read again or want to read over and over again, then that is a good accomplishment.
I think it's more about mass appeal and how much a book grabs the attention of it's audience and entertains them. That book does not have to be the best piece of literature on the planet.


I think some authors are so stuck in their own world, that they cannot hear what their readers like and want more of. They write what they want to write and that's all good if you want to please you first and foremost. However, if you want to sell lots of books, wouldn't it be a good idea to open up and listen to your audience?

« Last Edit: June 18, 2017, 12:51:46 AM by BellaJames »

Offline EC Sheedy

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Re: What is a "Good" Book?
« Reply #61 on: June 17, 2017, 11:57:19 PM »
What makes for a "good" book? That's probably the toughest question ever posed to a group of writers. One we can chew on until our gums bleed. So, of course, I'll bite.

I think a good book is one that has superb pacing, intriguing characters, and most of all it avoids repetition. A good book offers the reader something new on every page. As a reader, I don't want to be reading about the same issue on page 178 that I was reading on page 9. Maybe that's just me. How have I come to believe this? Because I have a chronic case of repetitivism (new word!). I contracted it the day I had this epiphany. "Gee, I can switch POVs, change the setting, give the dog some think time, and say the same old thing!" I've been fighting it with the editing sword ever since.  :-[

Note: Excellent new non-fiction book, Deep Work: Rules for focused success in a distracted world, by Cal Newport
 

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Offline BellaJames

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Re: What is a "Good" Book?
« Reply #62 on: June 18, 2017, 12:48:01 AM »
I almost started a thread with this exact title a few months ago. I find it both amusing and slightly frustrating when I so often read advice like, "The first step is to write a good book."

Really? Gee, I'm so glad you told me that. The first thing I'm going to do now is throw out this crappy, horrible book I've been working on and get to work on writing a good book. Thanks, you're a lifesaver!

The other thing is that, like you said ... What does that even mean? I've seen some very popular authors that I've read their stuff, mostly to learn from them, and I can barely finish the book, it's so bad. I don't mean it's "not my thing," I mean that, to me, it's really poor writing and/or storytelling. There is one popular indie author in particular that I'm amazed how successful they are. To me, their books are cringe-worthy and read like a fourteen year old's rough draft ... but lot of people love them.

So what do I do with that? Try to emulate them because readers have loudly declared them to be "good books"? Decide that my writing opinions are different from the masses and just ignore it? Give up hope as a writer?

But as far as actually answering the question ...

I tend to like books that have an air of mystery to them; some sort of "secret" or only half of the story that makes me want to keep reading and find out what's really going on. For example, I like Liane Moriarty a lot, and The Girl in Cabin 10, because there are so many unknowns that need to be pieced together. There was a Laura Lippman book that was really compelling called What the Dead Know.

Or I like funny books, but funny is really hard to do well, IMO. I like Sophie Kinsella a lot, but don't like a lot of other books that are supposed to be like hers.

Even if a book will keep me turning pages though, I may not think of it as a "good" book, though. Just like some movies that are fun aren't really Oscar-material movies.

For example, I just finished reading The Silent Sister and couldn't put it down because of that "secret" factor, but the end was really stupid and somewhat unsatisfying. So to me, for a book to be truly "good," it has to resonate at the end. Some feelings I can identify with. I particularly like movies/books/etc that have some believable redemption or relationship healing in them. Or something I'm still thinking about weeks or months later, like an Anne Tyler or John Irving book. That doesn't happen too often.

I wrote a reply to you and I deleted it by accident.

I basically said, it is hard to hear 'write a good book' when a good book means different things to different people. I do think you can help yourself by looking at the 4 and 5 star reviews for your books and seeing if there is something your readers are saying they like or love. When you see dozens of people saying the same thing, that's something to note down.

I think one thing that many na and contemporary romance authors are really good at doing, is interacting with their audience. When a reviewer writes, 'I love that secondary character, I want to read his book', you often find that author listens and they produce a novella or novel with that character quickly.

Some authors say they don't know what to say on social media. Social media is not a store front. It is a place to be socialable and talk to people. So talk to your readers. It's one thing to ask other authors what you should do, what about asking your readers what they like and what they want more of. Do a survey. Have a chat with them.

I also think reading 4 and 5 star reviews for books in your sub-genre or books that are similar to yours might give you some ideas. What are those reviewers saying. You will often see the same things mentioned. Look at the reviewers who are getting 100 comments, there's a whole conversation about something that stood out in the book and excited those readers.

You can see that people have their own idea of what a good book is, however if you want to sell more books then write more books that your audience wants. Like movie franchises, I think the authors writing extra prequels and sequels and spin offs, understand that if they want book sales they have to give readers what they want.

Of course don't make yourself unhappy in the process. Don't try to write steamy romance with graphic scenes that make your cringe. If readers say they love romances where the characters take a little longer to fall in love (a slow burn romance), then maybe you could try that.
Most romance authors want to feel the chemistry between the characters, they want to feel an emotional push and pull. I said you will see this gif a lot on Goodreads http://i1.kym-cdn.com/photos/images/newsfeed/000/528/683/34a.gif

Struggling companies often go out and look at what successful companies are doing right in their field and try to incorporate it in their business. For example, my company just sent some of their marketing team to go and snoop around a competing company. They picked up a couple things that they were doing, that made them more successful.

I look at authors like Colleen Hoover and see how open and accessible she is with her readers. She knows what they like about her writing, that why she's keeps producing these emotional tear jerker romance books with a twist.

« Last Edit: June 18, 2017, 01:06:13 AM by BellaJames »

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Re: What is a "Good" Book?
« Reply #63 on: June 18, 2017, 01:07:11 AM »
I think it's also useful to look at the critical reviews. You might not agree with all of them and you definitely can't please everyone, but I've found many reviews have valid reasons for not liking the book that you could keep in mind for the future.

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Re: What is a "Good" Book?
« Reply #64 on: June 18, 2017, 03:21:43 AM »
I'm not going to get into the "it's the writing/it's the storytelling" argument because I think that's essentially unwinnable. Writers have been arguing about that for longer than I've been around, and it's still up for debate. It always will be.

But something I think is important that's seldom mentioned is the question: "What are you in the mood for?"  What may seem boring and stupid one time may be utterly engrossing at another. Not because of anything inherent in the work itself, but because the reader herself is at a different mental/emotional level. 

The first two times I tried "Catch 22", I quit before the end of chapter 2, utterly bewildered at the appeal. The third time I roared through the book, barely stopping for bathroom breaks. Wasn't the book, it was me. And it wasn't the only book for which I experienced that radical a difference in response.

I also think there are (for want of a better phrase) social forces that make a book un-put-downable today, and a waste of trees a year from now. It's not the book, it's what the readers are ready for...or bored with.

Offline Doglover

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Re: What is a "Good" Book?
« Reply #65 on: June 18, 2017, 03:38:24 AM »
I'm not going to get into the "it's the writing/it's the storytelling" argument because I think that's essentially unwinnable. Writers have been arguing about that for longer than I've been around, and it's still up for debate. It always will be.

But something I think is important that's seldom mentioned is the question: "What are you in the mood for?"  What may seem boring and stupid one time may be utterly engrossing at another. Not because of anything inherent in the work itself, but because the reader herself is at a different mental/emotional level. 

The first two times I tried "Catch 22", I quit before the end of chapter 2, utterly bewildered at the appeal. The third time I roared through the book, barely stopping for bathroom breaks. Wasn't the book, it was me. And it wasn't the only book for which I experienced that radical a difference in response.

I also think there are (for want of a better phrase) social forces that make a book un-put-downable today, and a waste of trees a year from now. It's not the book, it's what the readers are ready for...or bored with.
That is very true. It is like planning your menu for the week; I have to wait and see what I fancy before I decide what I'm having for dinner tomorrow. I never could get that through to my mother-in-law!

There was a time when I read everything that Stephen King wrote, absolutely everything. I used to order his books in advance; I couldn't even wait for them to come out in paperback. Then I went off him and I thought he'd lost his touch. But I realise now it wasn't him, it was me. He is not the only author I have abandoned because my tastes have changed, either.


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Online Jena H

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Re: What is a "Good" Book?
« Reply #66 on: June 18, 2017, 05:22:45 AM »
I'm not going to get into the "it's the writing/it's the storytelling" argument because I think that's essentially unwinnable. Writers have been arguing about that for longer than I've been around, and it's still up for debate. It always will be.

But something I think is important that's seldom mentioned is the question: "What are you in the mood for?"  What may seem boring and stupid one time may be utterly engrossing at another. Not because of anything inherent in the work itself, but because the reader herself is at a different mental/emotional level. 

The first two times I tried "Catch 22", I quit before the end of chapter 2, utterly bewildered at the appeal. The third time I roared through the book, barely stopping for bathroom breaks. Wasn't the book, it was me. And it wasn't the only book for which I experienced that radical a difference in response.

I also think there are (for want of a better phrase) social forces that make a book un-put-downable today, and a waste of trees a year from now. It's not the book, it's what the readers are ready for...or bored with.

Your Catch-22 story is also true in the reverse.  When I was a teen, I read a book that I thought was great, would have made a great movie (I knew who should star in it, too!), and all the rest.  Many, many years later, I found this little-known book again and eagerly sat down with it.  It was junk.  Well, maybe not junk, but certainly not the riveting tale which held a special place in my memory for all those years.

So you're right, there IS a case to be made for reader's 'mood,' or what's popular at the time, or whatever other factors shape trends.  What consumers (readers, moviegoers, etc) want during times of peace & prosperity may not be what they're looking for in times of social/political/military unrest.  Or as audiences age.  Or during certain times of year.  Any number of factors can alter our perceptions of what is 'good' and 'bad.'  So yeah, I guess "mood" is one word to explain it.
Jena

Offline dgrant

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Re: What is a "Good" Book?
« Reply #67 on: June 18, 2017, 06:30:40 AM »
Which is the highest praise for your book?

"Your book is a contender for this year's Pulitzer prize."

or

"You made me forget I was on chemo for a couple hours, because I was too busy hoping everything'd come out all right for Dick & Jane."

...

And that's why we'll never have a unified agreement on this subject. Because there are literally billions of humans out there, and they want completely different things. And that's all right, and as it should be.


Offline rikatz

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Re: What is a "Good" Book?
« Reply #68 on: June 18, 2017, 06:39:19 AM »
I was good friends with the Vice-Chairman of the English Department at the University where I worked. I once remarked to her that despite my undergraduate degree in English, I never once had a professor talk about what makes a "good" book. She smiled and said that she would never consider discussing such a thing. Thus was my decision not to seek and advanced degree in the Humanities confirmed.

The basics of good writing are always the same, regardless of genre: plot, theme, characterization, style. If it has an engrossing plot, well rounded, interesting characters, ideas and themes that resonate with real life and a style that at least does not distract from the rest of it, then it's a good book.


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Re: What is a "Good" Book?
« Reply #69 on: June 18, 2017, 06:57:29 AM »
I'm reading "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest" now. Many writers I know would not categorize it as a good book and could point to countless reasons based on today's writers' conventional wisdom.

It's a great book.

Offline RBN

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Re: What is a "Good" Book?
« Reply #70 on: June 18, 2017, 07:00:37 AM »
What stands out to me in the original post isn't the titular question but the frustration that top-selling books aren't subjectively (or so adamantly subjectively you believe it's objectively) "good."

I haven't seen a reminder yet that writer brain is a reading disability. When you grab a book because its most attractive property is its sales rank and analyze it for the purpose of discerning secrets you can use to usurp its position, your "reading" in no way resembles that of the readers who put that book at the top of the charts.

It can be difficult to overcome writer brain. I read like a normal person only when a book is so mind-blowingly fantastic I can't find fault with it. That's happened once so far in the first six months of 2017, versus the 100+ books that have made me scream "I can't read one more word of this garbage!" before I got through the first act (if there even were acts, which is doubtful).

Fortunately, the internet is full of gathering places where readers talk about reading. If you can't participate like a reader, lurk and mine the gold you were unable to extract from those books you hated. Readers will not only reveal the secrets of what they love and hate; they will tell you why, which will help you avoid pitfalls you otherwise wouldn't see coming and subvert things readers think they hate and make them love those things instead. That invaluable resource is available to you for free -- use it. It will get you much further than meaningless abstractions like "good" and "resonant."

Topic change: Storytelling in nonfiction

Storytelling isn't about make believe and enpurpling prose. It's largely a matter of organization to achieve effect. Facts can be presented both accurately and in an order that creates escalating tension and revelations that slingshot readers into the next paragraph (AKA "storytelling"). OR, as in the case of a biography I sampled a few days ago, in which "the big secret" of each life phase was spelled out in the first paragraph of each chapter, facts can be presented so they sit on the page like dusty old rat pellets. The facts needed no embellishment to be interesting; the writer simply chose to arrange them in interest-killing order because he doesn't understand and/or respect storytelling. I ended up not buying a book about a subject of interest to me because the facts were told badly. "Good" storytelling is never out of place.

Offline TobiasRoote

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Re: What is a "Good" Book?
« Reply #71 on: June 18, 2017, 07:41:59 AM »

When you grab a book because its most attractive property is its sales rank and analyze it for the purpose of discerning secrets you can use to usurp its position,


That has to be one of the saddest things I've read on here.


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Offline Shelley K

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Re: What is a "Good" Book?
« Reply #72 on: June 18, 2017, 08:10:00 AM »
That has to be one of the saddest things I've read on here.

Market research makes you sad?

Offline TobiasRoote

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Re: What is a "Good" Book?
« Reply #73 on: June 18, 2017, 08:33:34 AM »
Market research makes you sad?

Yes, people are on here every day trying to find out HOW they can write a bestseller, HOW they can 'Game' the system into writing a bestseller. It's sad.

Those that are saying ' just write more interesting books' are being ignored, or put on the back shelf because - it's either too hard, or not interesting enough to do it the' right' way.

There's a massive industry out there feeding off the writers obsession with writing bestsellers, but guess what. Those bestsellers are only successful because the writer wrote their own book. I wrote a bestseller, I haven't got a clue how I did it, or what I did right or wrong. I've tried to analyse it, but it comes down to one thing. The book was interesting.

It was badly written (it was my first book) it wasn't edited (it was written and published in 30 days) It was full of mistakes (some funny, others not so) and it sold thousands. I never read a book or a post anywhere about how to write a book. I just did it. I wish I could keep on doing it, but since then I've been through the mill with editors, proofreaders, critics, beta readers, soul searching, blog reading, articles on 'how to', and endless posts on KBoards. Now, my writing is much better, my back story is good, my pace is great, my characters are likeable and the plots are exciting. The SF is innovative and original and the books don't sell as well. Go figure.

Sometimes, I look back and think 'maybe, I should just write like I did on the first book. Not giving a sh&t about the structure, prose or the technical aspects. A real 'seat-of-the-pants' book that just writes itself without any thought about being a bestseller or even a 'good' book. Maybe I will, tomorrow. :D


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Offline Perry Constantine

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Re: What is a "Good" Book?
« Reply #74 on: June 18, 2017, 08:37:20 AM »
A good book is one that has beautifully constructed prose and the author describes everything in minute detail.

A good book is one where the author writes economically and allows the reader's imagination to do the heavy lifting.

A good book is plot-driven.

A good book is character-driven.

A good book is one you can't put down while you're reading it.

A good book is one that makes you think deeply about its themes.

And so on...and so on...and so on...

Basically, a good book is whatever the reader thinks is a good book. Something that engages the reader and makes them want to keep turning the pages.

How do you do that? Good question. There's no one right answer because there's no one type of reader, nor is there one state of mind for a given reader.

In regards to the whole "only crap sells" argument, that's a tired one. I think Twilight is terribly written, but you know what? There's something in those books that connected with those readers and made them keep coming back.

There's never going to be a universal definition of what makes a book good. All you can do is put out the best book you possibly can and then hope readers connect with it. If they don't, then you have to try again.

Yes, people are on here every day trying to find out HOW they can write a bestseller, HOW they can 'Game' the system into writing a bestseller. It's sad.

Market research isn't about gaming the system, it's about seeing how readers respond to popular books and seeing what you can learn from that.