This is the most incredible time in history to be an author. Power, freedom and, yes, money, are there for the taking…if you get what’s really happening and are willing to act on it.
Doesn’t matter if you’ve never published or you’re an established author. Nor does it matter if you’re a writer’s writer or a business person wanting a book to use as a business card. You don’t need to censor, cannibalize or sell-out to benefit from the revolution. In fact, it’s more important than ever to write a phenomenal book.
Further down the page he stresses the importance of building an enterprise (more than what most call a platform) and learning to launch a campaign because writing a great book is not enough. If you are scanning his blog page fast you may miss when he says this
(Hack alert: this assumes you actually know how to write a book worth reading. Nothing will save a book that’s horrid).
I agree that this is the most amazing time in history for authors who grasp the part they must play in selling their book, but how do you determine if a book is worth reading?
Some pretty horrid books were forced upon me in college because somebody had decided they were great literature. I survived to go on and write some pretty horrid stuff myself, some of which a few people bought.
Who decides if a book is worth reading?
The road to writing success is paved with rejections. A few of these are legendary:
- Chicken Soup for the Soul books were rejected by more than 100 publishers before they found one who would print their book. They still had to create demand for the book, working everyday for a long time until their idea caught fire.
- Walt Disney was fired from a newspaper for lack of ideas.
- English novelist John Creasey got 753 rejection slips before he published 564 books.
- By the time Stephen King was 14 he had received so many rejection slips that they were too heavy for the nail holding them up. He replaced it with a spike.
- J.K.Rowling’s Harry Potter was rejected by 12 publishers and almost by a 13th publisher, who gave in when his daughter pleaded with him to publish the book.
These authors could have been rejected for many reasons, of course, but it’s clear that their writing was not considered worth reading.
Who decides if a book is worth reading?
Since a publisher takes a substantial financial risk in carrying a book to market, it’s understandable that they get to decide if a book is worth reading. Publishers don’t like taking risks. They are like banks that only want to loan money to people who already have plenty of it.
If a literary agent is being asked to shop your book around to find a willing publisher, it is the agent who quickly decides if she thinks she can convince a publisher to take on your book.
But what if the end user, the reader, got to decide what is worth reading. Wouldn’t that be great?
That is exactly where we stand now with blogs, ebooks and other digital products. Because the reader is free to read these types of writing directly from the author, it is the reader who decides if your work is worth reading.
No one is born a great writer
“Some critics will write ‘Maya Angelou is a natural writer’–which is right after being a natural heart surgeon.”
–– Maya Angelou
Like learning to play the piano, lining words up to convey our thoughts may come easier to some than others, but we all have to practice, refine and hone our writing skills. Who is to say when our writing is good, good enough or great?
Writing is a lifetime endeavor, in fact. Every time an author starts a new book, she is at the beginning again.
There is a point at which you must let a manuscript go, a point at which you must decide you’re finished. You remember that feeling when an assignment was due in high school or college and you had to turn it in, imperfect as it was.
Writers don’t have to be great to be worth reading
Changes in publishing have made it possible for anyone to churn out a book. Some may have to hawk their work directly to readers to find their audience. But every writer’s goal may not be to please a big audience or to rake in millions.
Take the poems I write every Christmas chronicling the year’s events in my family, for example. My audience is small. My poems are corny and the ryhming fractured. And yet, if one of my friends fails to receive his copy of my Christmas poem, he calls requesting it.
Since greatness is in the mind of the reader, I encourage writers to write, to rewrite, to read what they consider good writing and then write some more.
“If there’s a book that you want to read, but it hasn’t been written yet, then you must write it.”–Toni Morrison
If you intend to make your living from writing or will measure your book’s worth by how copies sold, then by all means you must turn substantial attention to marketing. Introvert or not you will have to hustle. The traditional publisher, even after you win his blessings, won’t be much help with this. Dan Poynter, Mr. Publishing, points out that whether you go with traditional publishing or self-publish, you will have to market your own book.
How do you write a book worth reading?
Write a book worth writing.
How do you decide a book’s worth?