World, Writing, Wealth discussion

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All Things Writing & Publishing > R u sure u know how to write? -:)

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message 1: by Nik (new)

Nik Krasno | 13129 comments When books don't sell well it could be for a variety of reasons. One of the possibilities - is that the author does not exactly know how to write -:)
Haven't you encountered doctors that were not too helpful or lawyers or plumbers even? Designers, photographers that you didn't like their designs/photos? In any profession and probably art too, there are best, middle and charlatans. In art - it's much more subjective, but still - the audience (or lack thereof) should be the judge.
Can it be so that after having published a few books one realizes s/he is not too good in writing? -:)
And how to know you are good?


message 2: by Eldon (new)

Eldon Farrell | 685 comments I think if you're honest with yourself it's easy to see whether or not you're a good writer. If you take the rose colored glasses off; bad grammar and sentence structure are easy to spot.

The trick is the first part; so many of us find it hard to be honest with ourselves unfortunately. This accounts for why all of us have read a book that just makes us cringe.


message 3: by Nik (new)

Nik Krasno | 13129 comments Sure self-deception can be a (major) factor and probably some use this technique -:) On the other hand, self-evaluation isn't an easy task. Don't we hear about the instances when great writers scrapped their work or refrained from publishing for years because of doubts and which later became canonical? And I'm sure the opposite also happens, where a newbie thinks he's written a masterpiece in a couple of weeks -:)
Wonder whether after a reasonable exposure sales or their absence should tell something about how good the book is?


message 4: by Segilola (new)

Segilola Salami (segilolasalami) | 405 comments sales or the lack thereof are not an indication of whether you know how to write or not. sales I strongly believe is a combination of several factors that cannot always be predicted. mass market appeal is one factor that cannot be accounted for.

take music for instance, I've listened to some songs and hated it the first time around. however, because the radio played it non stop, I found the track growing on me.

if one's ability to write is directly related to expected sales, then language professors should all be bestsellers.


message 5: by Graeme (new)

Graeme Rodaughan | 7100 comments I blame the cover.... (just kidding).

I figure that "Talent" comes into play in having something interesting to say, and "Craft" comes into play in how you say it.

To a certain extent Talent can be polished and certainly it can be fed by wide reading, experiences, etc.

To a great extent, Craft can be improved through dedication, hard work and constantly working to improve our skills with writing prose.

At least that is what I believe and how I approach it.

Before I started writing my second book, I sat down and listed five specific points of improvement based on feedback and observation.

The top three examples are.

[1] I had feedback that "Some of the dialogue (internal and external) didn't flow that well for me"

I set myself a goal of improving dialogue, and the technique I adopted to do that was reading each scene out loud. I believe that it has helped to improve my dialogue.

[2] I recently read this book The Devil's Mouth (Alex Rains, Vampire Hunter, #1) by Matt Kincade , the Devils Mouth by Matt Kincade, and I really liked how he would drop a single sentence into a scene to give a strong sensory feel to the scene. I identified this as an improvement, as I judge my own scene descriptions as quite sparse, and so I look for opportunities to adopt it into my own writing.

[3] Production values. My first book had missing words, bad grammar, etc... I am changing the way I review it before publishing, in an effort to scrape out all those sorts of errors before I publish.

The above are some examples of adjustments that I am making in an effort to make my current book my best book.

I will do the same thing with all my other books. I will look at feedback, I will identify issues and opportunities for improvement. I will identify changes to my writing practice and I will implement those changes.

I will also do the same with marketing.

If I fail to sell, it won't be for lack of effort to improve.


message 6: by Michael (new)

Michael Fattorosi | 477 comments Im a horrible writer. I have no misconceptions about that... lol

But Im a pretty good charlatan so I have that going for me!

Im gonna let the market decide though.


message 7: by Matthew (new)

Matthew Williams (houseofwilliams) Nope, not even a little bit. All I know is, I love to write, I love to create, I love to share, and I love it when people like what I share. And as I understand it, George Orwell stated that ego was the number one reason all writer's write. I have one, and I love it when it's stroked!


message 8: by Mehreen (new)

Mehreen Ahmed (mehreen2) | 1911 comments Matthew wrote: "Nope, not even a little bit. All I know is, I love to write, I love to create, I love to share, and I love it when people like what I share. And as I understand it, George Orwell stated that ego wa..."

Hahaha that's a good one.


message 9: by Mehreen (new)

Mehreen Ahmed (mehreen2) | 1911 comments Nik wrote: "When books don't sell well it could be for a variety of reasons. One of the possibilities - is that the author does not exactly know how to write -:)
Haven't you encountered doctors that were not t..."



Sale of a book has nothing to do with talent. Pornography sells more than literary fiction. Are you going argue that those are better writers?


message 10: by Ian (new)

Ian Miller | 9266 comments Do you know what you are trying to achieve? What sort of book your are trying to write? If you can't answer that question, short of accidental coincidence, your writing won't be that good. If you do know what you are trying to achieve, is it worth while? Thus if you are trying to write pornography, you should not expect great acclaim from the literati. Finally, if you know what you are trying to achieve, and you think it is worth while, then step back and ask yourself, how close did you come to achieving it? If you cannot see any flaws in your writing after you publish it, then you really are not very good. If you can see flaws, do you try to do better next time? That would show signs of promise.


message 11: by Mehreen (new)

Mehreen Ahmed (mehreen2) | 1911 comments I know what I write. And I am a scathing critic of my craft.


message 12: by Michel (last edited Oct 15, 2016 07:10PM) (new)

Michel Poulin First, I love writing. Two, I have lots of imagination and thus have plenty of ideas for my novels (I write fiction, mostly sci-fi, time travel and historical fiction). Three, I write as a hobby and self-publish my novels for free online. I thus have no sales or promotional issues to distract me from the fun of writing. My only weak point is that English is a second language for me and, while I was told by a British friend that my written English is very good and while I have greatly improved it in the last few years, it is still not perfect and I make a few typos and grammar mistakes from time to time. I also involuntarily tend still to think in French, with my sentence construction sometimes reflecting it.


message 13: by Graeme (new)

Graeme Rodaughan | 7100 comments Hi Michel,

I think in English and I "make a few typos and grammar mistakes from time to time."....

I have a strange tendency to sometimes reverse clauses in sentences.

I will sometimes have to move a whole clause from the back to the front of the sentence.

Plus occasional missed words.

And missed punctuation, or simply unnecessary punctuation.

I have a recurring problem of writing "your" when I wanted "you're".

My errors are legion, my capacity to discover them is only so so.


message 14: by Graeme (new)

Graeme Rodaughan | 7100 comments Mehreen wrote: "I know what I write. And I am a scathing critic of my craft."

Sounds a little harsh.


message 15: by Zee (new)

Zee Monodee (zee_monodee) | 0 comments I think first an editor then readers will point it out to you if you're an awful author. Scathing reviews come galore when you have a 'bad' product out


message 16: by Nik (new)

Nik Krasno | 13129 comments Zee wrote: " Scathing reviews come galore when you have a 'bad' product out"

That if the reviewers get to read the 'product' in question in the first place -:)


message 17: by Mehreen (last edited Oct 17, 2016 02:50AM) (new)

Mehreen Ahmed (mehreen2) | 1911 comments Graeme Rodaughan wrote: "Mehreen wrote: "I know what I write. And I am a scathing critic of my craft."

Sounds a little harsh."


Harsher the better for myself. However, I'm just the opposite when it comes to writing a review for a peer, a fellow author.


message 18: by Melonie (new)

Melonie Purcell | 14 comments Nik wrote: "and how do you know you're good?"

Well now, that IS the question isn't it. And there is plain old *you suck* vs. *not the writing style for me*. How do you sort it out?


message 19: by Melonie (new)

Melonie Purcell | 14 comments Mehreen wrote: : "Sale of a book has nothing to do with talent. Pornography sells more than literary fiction. Are you going argue that those are better writers? "

Sooo true. There is a *dramatic reading* of an erotica book on youtube that is truly tragic. I then went and looked up the book on Amazon and it is killing it in sales. KILLING. IT. So there you are. That author isn't missing any pumpkin spiced lattes, let me tell you. And congrats to her/him!


message 20: by Nik (new)

Nik Krasno | 13129 comments Melonie wrote: "Nik wrote: "and how do you know you're good?"

Well now, that IS the question isn't it. And there is plain old *you suck* vs. *not the writing style for me*. How do you sort it out?"


Maybe multiple recurrent feedback of readers/reviewers/fellow authors clarifies things....


message 21: by Nik (new)

Nik Krasno | 13129 comments What makes you so sure?


message 22: by Ian (new)

Ian Miller | 9266 comments The individual author probably never does. In some ways, the easiest person to fool is yourself.


message 23: by Leonie (new)

Leonie (leonierogers) | 1579 comments I think the skill of writing is an evolving thing. There are the basic mechanics of the craft, spelling, grammar, and so on, but then there's the ability to evoke emotions and images in the reader, and to tell a story well enough that the reader is lost in the writing.

Most of us start with some kind of grasp of the mechanics, and at least some ideas of how to tell a story, but whether we actually do that well is another thing.

For myself, I'd say that I have a reasonable grasp of the basics, and that I can tell a decent story. My writing as such, is improving, or at least I like to think I've improved.

Having said all of that, most readers will have a preferred style of writer. (As do all of us.)

I also think there are writers who are wonderful story tellers but not necessarily astounding writers. There are also wonderful writers who struggle to tell a story. To do both together is to truly be gifted. Most of us will sit (hopefully) somewhere in the middle.


message 24: by Nik (new)

Nik Krasno | 13129 comments So how do you know, u r an excellent writer? -:)


message 25: by J.J. (new)

J.J. Mainor | 2112 comments I set up a Patreon page earlier this year to distribute a book Amazon wouldn't publish, and I've been using it to give patrons looks at the rough draft as each piece is completed. What boosts my ego is seeing people register on Patreon just to read my work...


message 26: by Ian (new)

Ian Miller | 9266 comments That sounds good. Well done.


message 27: by J.J. (new)

J.J. Mainor | 2112 comments I have someone from Saudi Arabia asking to get one of my books. Patreon is blocked and I'm guessing because I have the book rated adult, it's blocked from Amazon too...I'm trying to figure how to get him/her a free copy because I'm feeling a little subversive. So If I stop coming around, it's because I've been Khashoggied...


message 28: by Roxanna (last edited Apr 25, 2019 12:18AM) (new)

Roxanna López Segilola wrote: "sales or the lack thereof are not an indication of whether you know how to write or not. sales I strongly believe is a combination of several factors that cannot always be predicted. mass market ap..."

I totally agree with you.

And to elaborate, think about all the awful books that were big hits, (e.g. Fifty Shade of Grey) or the books that are just OK but are all-time best sellers (e.g. the Harry Poter books). I find that when people like the topic and the book is simple enough, writing skills are secondary, the book will find its audience. If the target audience is the lowest common denominator then the book has the broadest possible target audience.

Another thing to consider is that, to be truly innovative in any field, one is always going to receive some amount of resistance.

Some writers cannot truly write or they do at the most basic level but the audience like them; some others write like the angels themselves but they can't find their audience easily. As an independent, writer I would be happy to be somewhere along that continuum.


message 29: by Roxanna (last edited Apr 25, 2019 12:24AM) (new)

Roxanna López Nik wrote: "So how do you know, u r an excellent writer? -:)"

Because my writing is just freaking awesome! LMAO. :-) And because when I can convince somebody to give a chance to my book and they come back quoting passages and with faces full of enjoyment, I know I got to them. And because I see myself improving as I write.

But I guess there is no sure way to tell; I just have to do the best that I can and keep writing and purosely practicing my craft, and hope for my writing to find its audience one day.


message 30: by Ian (new)

Ian Miller | 9266 comments J.J. wrote: "I have someone from Saudi Arabia asking to get one of my books. Patreon is blocked and I'm guessing because I have the book rated adult, it's blocked from Amazon too...I'm trying to figure how to g..."

If it is an ebook, you can always email it. If it is dead tree, why not post a copy? If you are giving it away it is easier than trying to sell it.


message 31: by J.J. (new)

J.J. Mainor | 2112 comments Ian wrote: "J.J. wrote: "I have someone from Saudi Arabia asking to get one of my books. Patreon is blocked and I'm guessing because I have the book rated adult, it's blocked from Amazon too...I'm trying to fi..."

I'm guessing email is monitored by the government as the person seemed to prefer getting the pages 1-by-1 through Twitter's DM...


message 32: by Nik (new)

Nik Krasno | 13129 comments Roxanna wrote: "....because when I can convince somebody to give a chance to my book and they come back quoting passages and with faces full of enjoyment, I know I got to them...."

Yes, external feedback should be a barometer


message 33: by Nik (new)

Nik Krasno | 13129 comments J.J. wrote: "So If I stop coming around, it's because I've been Khashoggied..."

Pls, keep your iwatch on, so the Turks could record and let us know with a sufficient delay.
Hope you'll find the way to deliver to the Arabia... As it's the biggest importer of American arms and ammunition, maybe you can ask Pentagon to add a book to one of the boxes going that way?


message 34: by Scout (new)

Scout (goodreadscomscout) | 5206 comments Aptly stated, Roxanna: "If the target audience is the lowest common denominator then the book has the broadest possible target audience.

Another thing to consider is that, to be truly innovative in any field, one is always going to receive some amount of resistance."


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