Good vs. Bad book? Don’t Judge

(loudandcleargraphics.co.uk)

K.M. Weiland is an excellent resource for writers of all types. Her website Helping Writers Become Authors should be on everyone’s short list of helpful websites. Also, her books on writing are excellent and merge well with Agile Writer theory. But, in a recent site article by Katherine Marsh entitled “Why Do So Many Bad Books Sell on Amazon?” steps over the line from advice to judgement. Let me explain.

In the article Marsh explains that Amazon has started promoting eBooks that are newer – like only 30 days old. This has allowed ‘ghost writers’ to churn out new stories using a template from a previous book (replace princess with enchantress, replace castle with mansion, etc…). Thus, these writers are producing a book a month and getting (presumably) good sales.

What Ms. Marsh argues is that this promotes ‘bad books’. At Agile Writers the definition of success is getting your book into the hands of readers who want them. If readers are buying these copycats, then they are probably satisfied. Otherwise, they’d return them (you *can* return eBooks, you know). Therefore, these are not bad books. They are finding a home with people who crave the same plot lines with different characters and locations. The Romance genre is rife with this sort of churning.

And that’s, Okay.

It’s the responsibility of the author to work the system – to play the game – to get their work into the hands of readers who want to read it. Knowing how the game is played and then playing the game well does that.

Ms. Marsh goes on to lay out a plan to deliver *good* books (in her estimation) by splitting a novel into segments that are released every 30 days. This is a brilliant strategy the uses the Amazon system to the author’s benefit. There is no need to qualify ‘good’ vs. ‘bad.’

The READER determines what is good or bad, not the author – and not the algorithms at Amazon nor the publishers in the ivory towers of the Big Four publishing houses.

I heartily recommend Ms. Marsh’s article because it lays out the information you’ll need to get your book in front of more readers’ eyes.

However, this should be only one arrow in your quiver of promotional tools. Remember – Amazon is a *destination* site. People go there because THEY KNOW WHAT THEY ARE LOOKING FOR. Impulse buys on Amazon are far less likely than in a bricks-and-mortar store like Barnes & Noble or Books-A-Million. People go to bookstores, newsstands, drug stores, and others without knowing precisely what book they want – if any.

But because the self-published author doesn’t have the advantage of in-store sales, we have to rely on self-promotion. And by self-promotion I mean social media and search advertising.

Learn the rules of the game. Then play the game well. The definition of a ‘good book’ is one that finds its reader. Make sure your book finds its home in the hands of the reader waiting for it.

Speaking at “Awesomize Your Life”

I just found out about Shawn Furey’s “Awesomize Your Life” seminar next week (March 23rd, 2019) in Augusta, Maine. Shawn is a leader in the heroism science community and applies his special knowledge of Joseph Campbell’s Hero’s Journey to help facilitate psycho-educational groups and provide one-on-one counseling to people in recovery from opioid addiction. He’s a true hero.

So, he asked me if the Agile Writer Method could be used in autobiography and memoir to help recovering addicts and others tell their stories. And I said yes, and many people at Agile Writers have done just that. The Hero’s Journey is superbly attuned to just such stories.

So, I signed up for Shawn’s conference and wouldn’t you know it? He asked me to speak. I’ll be presenting alongside other hero science luminaries as David Rendall, author of the book “The Freak Factor” and Dan & Carrie Chavanne who stopped a shooting at a Wal-mart in Augusta, Maine.

I’ll be talking about how we use the hero’s journey to write autobiography and memoir at the Agile Writer Workshop. I hope you’ll drop by Shawn’s web page to learn more and take a look at his Facebook group “The Hero Science Think Tank” where many people in the hero science community gather to share thoughts, opinions, and research on heroes and heroism.

 

 

https://success4.com/blog/the-hero-forge-shawn-fury/

On Awards Shows

Why Watch Bad Films

Every year, my writing partner on ReelHeroes.net, Dr. Scott Allison and I discuss the idea of reviewing films on the Golden Globes and Oscar nominations lists. Scott prefers to review movies he knows are going to be of high quality, whereas I like a sort of random draw – reviewing both bad and good movies. I find I learn more from a bad movie than a good movie. Scott’s position is pretty pragmatic – he just hates to spend money on bad films.

I think everyone should know what the Golden Globes and Oscars are really about. They’re not necessarily the best films – just the films that industry insiders think are good. This doesn’t mean that you, the viewing audience, will enjoy them. It’s just that their peers think they did a good job.

Golden Globes

In particular, the Golden Globes are awarded by the 93 members of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association. Consider this for a moment. There is an entire awards show that influences the purchase of tickets by the viewing public by a very small number of people.

Do *you* really want to go to a movie because 93 photographers and journalists from 55 different countries liked it? In my estimation, that’s a lot of power for a very small pool of individuals about whom I know next to nothing and may not even have the same cultural sensitivities that I have.

Academy Awards

The Oscars, on the other hand, are awards given by peers of the artists creating the films – as many as 8,000 members. One thing you may not know is that to qualify for an Oscar in 2018, the film had to be released in a certain number of theaters (in Los Angelas, CA)  before December 31, 2018. And, the Academy tends to favor films released near the end of the year. So, very often, Oscar-worthy films are not released until December, and then only in limited release.

The Oscar nominations are announced in late January with the ceremony about one month later in late February. This means that many of the films and artists nominated are for films most of us never saw in theaters.

The voters are grouped in branches or divisions. The actors number about 1300 members and are the strongest influence on the award. The voting is highly political and often sentimental. So, if an actor or director happens to be unpopular among their peers, they may not get up-voted – despite having created great art. Likewise, an actor who has contributed a long life of excellent work, but has never won an Oscar, could be voted an award despite a lackluster performance – just out of sympathy.

Also, the studios will spend millions of dollars sending gifts and advertising to the voters to influence their vote. Very often, the film that most successfully courts Academy members with pre-release copies of the film and bling can win – despite the public never really having seen the film.

So, just because a film wins a Golden Globe or an Oscar doesn’t necessarily mean that *you* will enjoy it. In fact, there’s a good chance that you won’t. Because the films aren’t graded on their entertainment value for a mass audience, but on an elite cast of players’ opinion of the artistic merit of the cast and crew of the film.

Rotten Tomatoes

In my humble opinion, if you want to know if a film is any good, or if you’ll enjoy it, check out two metrics that I look at. The first is box office performance. Generally speaking, if a film tanks at the box office, there’s a very good reason for it. Secondly, I find RottenTomatoes.com is a great reflection of how an audience responds to a film.

Rotten Tomatoes has two ratings. The first number is an aggregation of what professional film critics think of the film. That may not be useful to you. Like the professionals of the Golden Globe and Oscars, critics often look for things a mass audience doesn’t care about. The second number is based on audience members who saw the film and either up-voted or down-voted the movie.

I find this second number very telling. For example, Adam Sandler movies are often panned by the critics because the quality is very low and critics don’t appreciate sophomoric humor. However, the audience scores will be significantly higher – because Adam Sandler knows his audience and he plays to that crowd.

Recommendations

So, if you want to determine if a film as going to be entertaining, especially if you have tastes that swing wide from critics’ views, check out the Rotten Tomatoes scores. And after you’ve watched the film, check out our review at ReelHeroes.net where we review films based on the quality of the heroic elements of the film. See if you agree with us and let us know what you think.

Greg Smith, Agile Writers

Greg Smith founded Agile Writers in 2011 with the mission of finding a new approach to helping beginning writers complete a first-draft novel in 6 months. Greg created “The Agile Writer Method” based upon the writings of experts in mythology, screenwriting, psychology and a little project management.

His seminars on the Agile Writer Method have informed and delighted hundreds of writers, scholars, and university students. Since 2011, Agile Writer authors have completed over 50 first draft novels, a dozen published novels, and the annual Agile Writer Conference for Beginning Writers in Richmond, VA each final Saturday in January.

You can learn more about Greg Smith and Agile Writers at http://AgileWriters.com.