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How Do You Write a Book Worth Reading?

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This is the most amazing time in history if you want to write a book. Whether you want to write your life story in your own handwriting to be left behind with your will for your family, or if you long to write a fiction book that will be on equal footing with bestsellers, this is your time.

The tools are at your fingertips.

Your biggest barrier is you.

You fear that your writing is not good enough.

Good enough for what, I ask?

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 was 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 every day 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 at some point their writing was not considered worth reading. And yet, once published, they were deemed worthwhile.

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 who 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 so that both of them can make money.

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 professionally is a lifetime endeavor, in fact. Every time a published author starts a new book, she is at the beginning again, fighting back fear and uncertainty.

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 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 and they love me. My poems are corny, with forced and awkward ryhme schemes.  And yet, if one of my friends fails to receive his poem in a timely manner, he calls requesting it.

Since greatness is in the mind of the reader, I encourage anyone who wants to write, to read what they enjoy. Then write what they wish. Then rewrite, read some more, and 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 many copies are sold, then, by all means, you must become a serious business person and hustle.  But if you want to write your life story or a publish a book, then by no means don’t let anything or anyone stop you.

How do you write a book worth reading?

Write a book you enjoy writing.

How do you decide a book was worth reading? Tell us in Speak Your Mind.

Comments

  1. Flora, these are great thoughts. The writing of life story is often stalled by insecurities of not being a good enough writer. Every life story writing student I have ever worked with is a subject matter expert on their writing topic. Their truth comes out in a way only they can express it. It’s a sad thought that anyone who wants to write their life story would ever be inhibited by thoughts of not being good enough at the craft of writing. Thanks for this encouraging post. Hope you are doing well.

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