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.

The Problem with Notting Hill

I recently read a blogger’s takedown of “Notting Hill.” She had identified the Anna Scott character as being very shallow and self-absorbed. And since she was so flawed, Will Thacker should not have loved her. The author believes no one should watch the movie because it gives a bad example of relationships.

https://www.mamamia.com.au/notting-hill-sends-a-bad-message/

My thoughts…

If you look at this from a “story structure” point of view, you need a character to transform. In order to do that, you have to lay bare her flaws. Anna is self-absorbed and spoiled. And it’s Will and his ‘ordinary’ family that show her that she can be a better person. So Will is the change-agent for Anna.

It’s true that Anna is flawed and trapped in a world where she thinks she can’t escape. Will shows her a way out and she’s a better person when she’s around him. And *that* is the meaning of the story (whether you like schmaltz or not): when we find the right person, we become the best version of ourselves.