1. QuiIIroots
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    QuiIIroots New Member

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    I'm writing my first book, what are the odds of it being successful?

    Discussion in 'Publishing' started by QuiIIroots, Sep 30, 2009.

    Hypothetically lets say you have no prior published works. You write a novel that has the recipe for success. It is interesting, well written, has a catchy title, good cover art and a grabbing couple of paragraphs on the back. What are the odds of that book actually selling? Do most people have to build up a reputation before selling lots of copies? How important is the writing topic vs. quality of writing as far as number of books sold?

    If you could answer any of the questions or point me in the direction of a good link, that would be greatly appreciated. Thanks.

    :cool:
     
  2. TPie
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    TPie New Member

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    From my experience, the odds of your first book being successful are zero. Same with your second and third. And fourth. And likely fifth and sixth. A wise woman once said, "You have to write at least 1,000,000 words to be a competent, effective writer." I agree with this statement.

    While writing can be a paying profession, it is more often a hobby. If you start writing with the intent of a paycheck, you will likely only experience frustration. If you start writing with the intent of personal enjoyment, you'll find yourself a much happier person.
     
  3. arron89
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    arron89 Banned

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    Quality of writing is everything for most (respectable) writers. This is what critics will focus on, this is what will impress people, and if you want to be successful, the critics are who you need to impress. A lot of first writers are unsuccessful, because the vast majority of first time writers just aren't very good. Fact is, most writers just aren't good enough to achieve the kind of success you're talking about. If you sell well enough to make it a full time job, you're one of an elite few. If you get rich off it, and you shouldn't expect to, even if you're a prize-winning, well known author, then you're in a tiny tiny minority.
     
  4. A2theDre
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    A2theDre Active Member

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    Buy a lottery ticket...
     
  5. Eddyz Aquila
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    Eddyz Aquila Member

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    Then if the quality of writing is everything, how come we get horrible writers like Stephanie Meyer and Dan Brown earning 80 million dollars a year? :confused:
     
  6. Rei
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    Rei Contributing Member Contributor

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    Those are rare anomalies. It's also VERY good marketing.
     
  7. DragonGrim
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    DragonGrim Contributing Member

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    If you actually have a well written book, then I don’t see why you can’t make a little money. The problem is, most books are terrible. Most people who write a novel do so without any love of the language or any understanding of the craft. I read my grandfathers book. He’d read nonstop all his life, so you’d think he would have written a good one. Not so. The plot meandered. The characters were as flat as pancakes. And when I came across a rare metaphor or simile, it was boring. Also, the book seemed unrealistic. Don’t get me wrong, I’m glad I had the chance to read it, but I’m just picking on it because it is similar to most unpublished or self published books. I read part of my stepfather’s too, and it was the same way.
     
  8. Eddyz Aquila
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    Eddyz Aquila Member

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    Right, so why do we promote non values instead or promoting good writing? The Kite Runner is a book I've read lately, and it was brilliant. It is a best-seller, but it didn't get even a tenth of the attention Twilight or Da Vinci Code got...


    To the original poster:

    Do your best and keep writing. As long as it is a good writing, it will stand out by its own. Marketing will only push it so everyone can read it.
     
  9. HorusEye
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    HorusEye Contributing Member Contributor

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    Products that cater to the lowest common denominator will always reach out to more people. Sad but true. If you want to write bestsellers, give people exactly what they expect and nothing else :(
     
  10. Rei
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    Rei Contributing Member Contributor

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    Eddyz, it's not just about the lowest common denominator, and it isn't always that, either. Harry Potter isn't that great, but it's still relatively good writing and deserved success, if not the huge fandom it gained. Plenty of movies that gain huge success also don't do that. As well, it's not necessarily about giving people what the expect. It is about what people want, but we should never make assumptions about what people want. Some of the most successful books and movies were written/produced by people who were not just "giving them what they want." They were doing their own thing.
     
  11. HorusEye
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    HorusEye Contributing Member Contributor

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    The list of the most critically acclaimed movies, books and music albums is not identical to the list of the best selling ones. Of course, quality is a factor, but it's not the breaking factor.
     
  12. DragonGrim
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    DragonGrim Contributing Member

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    I think there is too much negativity placed on the popularity of books. The quality of the writing, plus the ingenuity of the ideas, is what makes a story attractive to readers.
     
  13. Eddyz Aquila
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    Eddyz Aquila Member

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    Rei, indeed it is not the lowest common denominator. It just seems to me that it is very unfair to marginalise good writing in the favour of what I call "scandal writing" (Da Vinci Code), "trivial literature" and everything else that's going to sell well such as Dracula stories.

    If it were for me, my world would have a combination of best sellers and good writing - Decline and Fall, Great Expectations, Old Man and the Sea, but even like today's literature such as Clive Cussler.

    I dont know, it just seems out of place to me that we have to promote this kind of literature.
     
  14. Rei
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    Rei Contributing Member Contributor

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    The ones I'm think of achieved both of those, or if they were not top sellers, gained a cult following.
     
  15. TWErvin2
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    TWErvin2 Contributing Member Contributor

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    The odds are very long for success, but unless you write, revise, edit and submit, the odds are absolute zero.

    Terry
     
  16. jwatson
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    jwatson Active Member

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    Terry's comment up there is important to keep in mind. And, it gives me a little bit of hope :p

    While some may think Rowling or Meyer or even Paolini are not the best writers, they still did a heck of a good job. Writing is a tool and the quality of writing is important. If you do not have the ideas set down or if you do not have the content to grasp the readers, whatever audience you're targeting, you're not going to be among the authors we call the "minority."

    This is keeping in mind that even if your novel is absolutely ingenious, the chances of joining the most successful are still slim.

    I read somewhere that Meyer wrote her book, edited it, and sent it in three months. Three months. I finished my first draft in three months and am still re-writing the damn thing. She finished quickly, and that earns at least my congrats. Although one may seriously dislike an author for not being a good writer, if they are successful, they must have done more than one thing right...
     
  17. The-Joker
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    The-Joker Contributing Member Contributor

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    You know why books like The Da Vinci Code and Twilight are so popular?

    Because they're brilliant... to MOST people who read them. Dissenters always ascribe it to the marketing, but unlike a movie, a book has to have something that grips people or they'll never buy the sequel. No matter the hype.

    I hated twilight. I didn't read past the second book. If most people shared my sentiment Breaking Dawn wouldn't be the money-spinning phenomenon that it is.

    I think its silly to call ANYBODY who wrote an international best seller a horrible writer. They achieved the end point and to do that at least one aspect of the book has to be exceptional, and every other aspect can be no less than adequate.

    In the majority of the world's opinion.
     
  18. DragonGrim
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    DragonGrim Contributing Member

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    Great point and well said!
     
  19. Eddyz Aquila
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    Eddyz Aquila Member

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    Exactly my point. The majority of people can't discern good from average writing, so how come when a lot of agents receive quality work they simply put it in the slush pile?
     
  20. DragonGrim
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    DragonGrim Contributing Member

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    But your point assumes that readers don’t realize it when they are reading a good book.
     
  21. Eddyz Aquila
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    Eddyz Aquila Member

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    Yes of course, but I'm continuing by saying implicitly that it's because of the agents who select these books. They are the filters, they are responsible for what we are reading.
     
  22. The-Joker
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    The-Joker Contributing Member Contributor

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    But is good writing not that which appeals to as many people as possible. It takes skill to enthrall the masses, and thats the only type of skill agents care about, because in the publishing industry its the only one that matters.
     
  23. Eddyz Aquila
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    Eddyz Aquila Member

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    How much of a skill does it take? Da Vinci Code had everything that the masses wanted - a bit of violence, a bit of occult stuff, lots of scandal and a guy who solves everything, a mastermind. Now, it ain't that hard is it? The only thing that differs is the writing style. And the agent's preference.

    A guy with a good, very good grasp of English can make something work out. A bit of luck, lots of marketing and VOILA - you got yourself a blockbuster.

    Now, I'm not saying that it's an easy work, writing a book ain't an easy work. I know it myself. But what I'm saying is that it's not quality writing, the scandalous and the "commercial appeal" as I call it override the writing skill, and the average reader will read it just to see how it ends.

    Just my 2 cents. Feel free to comment.
     
  24. jwatson
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    jwatson Active Member

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    Of course, I do agree. I mean, not to say that I can write better than published authors, but I'm sure there have been people who have submitted mss with better writing than a published author and their mss got thrown aside. I guess it is just a matter of whether or not the agent thinks your novel has potential to grasp a large audience's interest.
     
  25. TWErvin2
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    TWErvin2 Contributing Member Contributor

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    That is an important thing. I guess it depends on what you want to call "good writing" but writing that sells, in most circles is considered "good writing," at least by those that cut the advance and royalty checks to the author.

    Terry
     

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