O My, Goodness
“There are books of which the backs and covers are by far the best parts.” Charles Dickens
UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) estimates that over two million new books are published worldwide each year. That’s about 5,500 books per day. Some 330,000 of those, over 900 per day, spring to life in the U.S. Given that fact, one would think it would be a piece of cake to get a book published. Well, it is and it isn’t.
With respect to fiction novels, the number of bad books on the market never ceases to amaze me; books with humdrum or unbelievable storylines and/or dreadful literary styles. Before I purchase a book online, I check with reader reviews on websites such as goodreads.com. If a large majority of reviews are positive (5 or 4 stars) and the subject interests me, I will buy it. More often than what one would hope for, the book evidences early on a poor storyline and bad – oftentimes atrocious – writing. How can this happen? How can such codswallop get published? Why do so many readers give said books such high marks? Many, of course, are self-published . . . but the poorly written ones still get high marks from readers.
Given the aforementioned numbers, one can generally get a book on the market by self-publishing or with any number of small, fly-by-night commercial publishers. But the possibility of getting one of the major publishing houses to accept a book is somewhere between one tenth of one percent and nothing. If there is any chance of that happening, the first step is to write a good book. Reputable, successful publishers know a bad book when they see one and won’t touch it with a three-meter pole.
What makes a good storyline and good writing is a long discussion. Whole books are written, and numerous websites address the subject. Key strategy: employ first readers, proofreaders, and copy editors. My first novel underwent six revisions with hundreds of upgrades due to the foregoing.
Authors write for manifold reasons. I did not write my first novel, Bazo, for commercial gain. (Although whatever might happen there would be a nice side-benefit.) I simply love the writing task and had a story begging to get out. But whatever an author’s motivation, utmost striving to make it a good book should undergird the process.