Is Writing a Really Good Book Enough?

I did a chat with the FFP gals last night and for the first time I was tempted to say one of the things I hear authors say that really annoy me.

One of the gals asked how to get published with Carina Press, because they’re really difficult to get in with. I wanted to say, well, they’re really picky and are pushing for a high-quality brand, so write something very good.

As regular readers know, I hate it when authors give publishing advice along the lines of “write a really good book.”

I dislike this advice for three reasons:

1. It’s self-evident. OF COURSE you have to write something good. Nobody tries to write bad stuff. Sometimes we don’t push the story or the characters as hard as we should. Sometimes we don’t revise enough, or polish enough. But everybody wants their stories to be good. This is akin to the advice to send in your best, most polished work. It implies that there’s some kind of external, quantifiable standard for that. Wouldn’t it be nice if writing was like chemistry and the document changed into a different color when you hit the correct amount of revision? Bing! Now it is GOOD.

Yeah, dream on.

2. It’s pompous. I know I’ve been on this tear lately, but it’s obnoxious when authors preen and suggest to the questioners that, to follow in the author’s footsteps, the would-be just needs to gain that level of awesomesauce. If you say “to do what I did, you need to write a really good book” implies that your talent and skill just rises above everyone else’s like it’s ensured by the laws of physics.

And it’s not true, because:

3. It’s not enough to write a really good book. It has to be the right story, told in the right voice, that pleases the right editor, who convinces the right marketers that the right readers are out there to buy it.

So, I restrained myself from popping out the easy answer. Instead I told them what kind of stories Carina likes. I told them what my editor looks for and what my process was. I offered some leads to research their acquisitions editors, because I believe knowledge and networking always gives more power.

And I’m going to work on that answer.

4 Replies to “Is Writing a Really Good Book Enough?”

  1. So true. Especially #3. And don't forget the element of serendipity — hitting all those things at the right time.

  2. Jeffe,I love that you're working on the harder answer, because I agree, I hate when industry types say that. Even though, in large part, it's true. Still, there are lots of factors and as Linda G. said, don't forget a little luck.

  3. Very true! So sorry that I missed the chat event last night but you've imparted some useful words of wisdom here. Thanks for the excellent post.

  4. Serendipity is so huge in this business, Linda – we should all be festooned with charms!

    Thanks, Evie – it's true. So many factors play in, including the elusive luck of the draw.

    Sorry you couldn't make it, Pamala, but thanks for popping in here!

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