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  1. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    What will make your book stand out from the crowd?

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by GingerCoffee, Apr 17, 2015.

    I don't have the answer. This is a pondering out loud thread. Feel free to ponder with me, read my ramblings or ignore the thread as you please.

    So I look at my book and I'm very happy it's coming together quite nicely. I think it is definitely better than a lot of stuff I've read. I'm not worried about that part.

    But then GoodReads sends me the monthly YA news letter with book after book of popular works that are getting good reviews. It changes the game. Now I find myself looking at a sea of good books. Not a sea of best sellers, but a sea of books that are interesting and fairly well written.

    So my Universe contemplating is currently moving into, how do I make my good book stand out against a sea of good books?

    One thing I think does make my book different is, for better or worse, there are no mythical creatures, no magic powers, no big war or battles, no quests for power or other mystical thing, and while there is romance, it's not the focus of the story.

    So I have to spice my story up with other things that will make it stand out, make it a fun exciting world to delve into.

    When and how much should I exaggerate, and when should I stick with realism? You want the reader to feel the impact or your words. But you don't want them to balk because you stepped too far. I'm not a fan of Divergent. Those dystopias which give human beings a culture I cannot see evolution ever taking us don't appeal to me. Yet Hunger Games exaggerated class divides and that didn't bother me, perhaps because it wasn't a stretch.

    :pop:
     
  2. A.M.P.
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    A.M.P. People Buy My Books for the Bio Photo Supporter Contributor

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    I think it's one of those things where you just have to accept that you're different than others.
    Like you, I read all these stories by new authors that have a lot of action or seem focused on creating an experience to frame their moral/idea/value.
    They're interesting, and they're good, and even the blurbs for them sound pretty epic.

    When I look at mine, all I can think is "I don't write stuff like that. Would anyone want this?"
    And it's very disheartening because I fear I may be too niche or perhaps I am a very crappy storyteller and can't even realize it.
    Are my twists not really that twisty? Are my character's development more in my head than on paper? Is this plot boring because I know every inch of it or is it factually a snoozefest?

    I write rather good (I know, it's well. But dammit I prefer good. Also pun)
    but perhaps what I write simply isn't what people want or perhaps my skill at putting down what I see in my head simply not up to snuff.
    Maybe that's why I find that my stuff is too different.

    ... Spiral of depression.
     
  3. Ozzy
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    Ozzy Member

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    I have no clue. None at all. Honestly, all of this scares me (not the pondering, but the actively trying to get someone that isn't my mother to read it, and LIKE it).
    I love my characters, I love my story, but is it good enough to sell? I just don't know that right now.
    I'm with A.M.P on this...
     
  4. NiallRoach
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    NiallRoach Contributing Member

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    These are not the be all and end all. There are plenty of people who will read your stuff because you lack those things, not simply in spite of the lack.
     
  5. A.M.P.
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    A.M.P. People Buy My Books for the Bio Photo Supporter Contributor

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    You know how you read a story, whether it's complex or simple, and you love a character and find a kernel of meaning or something special about it that makes it so dang special to you?
    It's impossible to find them in your own work because you did your best to plant them there but you know they are there.
    The question is: will they grow to bloom for others when they read it or will they be frozen under the page?
     
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  6. Ozzy
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    Ozzy Member

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    I feel the opposite, actually. I know so much more about the characters that I write than anyone reading ever will. Not because I'm an ass and don't want to tell them, but because it isn't relevant to the story. It IS relevant to me, and how I build them from nothing into a person. I just wonder if the reader will root for them like I do (which is stupid, since I know who lives and who dies, who wins and who loses)
     
  7. A.M.P.
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    A.M.P. People Buy My Books for the Bio Photo Supporter Contributor

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    How's that the opposite?
    That's pretty much what I said.
    You wrote something, it feels real to you, and you did your best to put that feeling unto the page
    And you wonder if others will see it too.
     
  8. Ozzy
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    Ozzy Member

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    Sorry, I misread. Completely. I can't even begin to explain what I read the first time, because now that I look at it again (I read it twice the first time), I am reading it correctly
     
  9. A.M.P.
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    A.M.P. People Buy My Books for the Bio Photo Supporter Contributor

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    I swear, I didn't edit it :p
     
  10. Ozzy
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    Ozzy Member

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    I believe you! I promise! I was just thinking that if I can't read things right, I really shouldn't be writing at all :eek: That's why I have someone read my stuff a LOT before I put it anywhere public:D
     
  11. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    That would be the "for better". I consciously chose not to write in that story genre and I'm not bothered by the choice per se. I'm merely contemplating how do I make the ordinary less ordinary given I made that choice.
     
  12. Selbbin
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    Selbbin I hate you Contributor

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    Intrigue. People can't judge a book by it's cover but that is how we choose them. There needs to be something about the title, cover, blurb and sample that makes a person decide to buy yours instead of the others. The only way to really understand what that is is to observe your own habits of what hooks you and what helps you decide what to buy.
     
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  13. Lance Schukies
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    Lance Schukies Active Member

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    I have been giving this a thought, I come to the conclusion just write a good story, make sure it is edited properly.
     
  14. Mike Hill
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    Mike Hill Natural born citizen of republic of Finland.

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    Good story, good writing. Also marketing is something that might play a part. Or take something "taboo" like 50 shades of grey and then just make it mild. Or portray it in a light that people want to see it in.
     
  15. BayView
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    BayView Contributing Member Contributor

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    I think there's a balance between standing out and blending in. Especially in genre fiction, there are certain things that readers expect, and I think you need to be careful about how you "stand out" from those expectations.

    I think probably one 'unique' element is about all a book can handle. Hunger Games had the televised-battle-between-children twist, but a lot of the rest of it is pure YA tropiness. Tough girl with a heart of gold, love triangle with bad boy vs. good boy, makeover, etc. Lots of familiar stuff to give readers what they expect, with just a little bit of differentness to make the book stand out.
     
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  16. rincewind31
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    Lance has said it. You dont need monsters, magic or anything else, you just need a well written story. You shouldn't need to spice things up. If your writing's good enough you should be able to bring even the dullest scene to life. I think if you have a good well written story, a kickass cover, and the blurb is good people will always read your work.
     
  17. jannert
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    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    Yes, I agree with @Selbbin. It's not enough just to write a good story, because there are SO many books out there. It's actually overwhelming, to go and stand in a huge modern bookstore comprising several stories, coffee bar, etc and think ...shit, what the world really needs is another damn book! And the online experience is similar. So much to choose from.

    So what do you do, in that monster bookstore? You go to the SECTION of the store that interests you, and start browsing. You pick up a few that have intriguing titles, or seem to contain what you are looking for. You read the blurbs, look at the cover photos. You probably leaf through the pages to get a sense of style. Then you buy accordingly.

    I don't think you need to concentrate on writing a book in a particular way to get attention. (As long as it's written well, edited properly, free from mistakes and typos, etc.) What you need to do is aim for the audience who would like your book.

    It's often been said that you should write the book you would want to read yourself. If that's the case, then you should be ahead of the game as far as who your audience will be. What category would you go to first, if you were in a Borders bookstore? Or a Waterstones? What kind of a cover appeals to you? (What kind of cover puts you off?) What kind of a blurb on the back cover would induce you to read further? (In other words, craft a good hook to put on the back cover—one that will make your readers open the book in the first place.) See what you can do to get your book settled in the right place on those shelves.

    After that ...well, here's hoping your skill in writing your book will keep your new readers glued to the end.

    It's also an idea to try to get your book reviewed in a magazine or newspaper, by a reputable reviewer. That is worth gold, in terms of getting attention. Obviously the reviewer could rubbish your book as well as praise it, but in general most book reviews you read on these pages are detailed and positive. I think these professionals don't waste time reviewing books they hate, unless the books are written by famous authors whose 'bad' book might be bought simply because they've made a name for themselves in the past.

    It's nice when your self-pubbed book gets a good review on Amazon, but these reviews are suspect as to origin and reliability. However, the newspaper and magazine ones are usually worth taking into account. So if you've got print copies of your book, there is a lot to be said for mailing one to your favourite paper, magazine or literary journal, in hopes somebody will give it a whirl.

    I've just bought two books in the past few weeks, by authors unknown to me, based on book reviews in newspapers. So, as a sales technique, this does work.
     
    Last edited: Apr 17, 2015
  18. EdFromNY
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    EdFromNY Hope to improve with age Supporter Contributor

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    When I think of the books, from distant past or recently, that really grabbed me, what really grabbed me about many of them - maybe most of them - was not evident to me when I first bought them. Some were books that I bought because I had known of the titles for many years and thought I should read them. Some had intriguing titles or blurbs, but when I read the book, what really grabbed me had little to do with either.

    What will get our work sold, at least initially, is in the marketing. And for the most part, that is separate from the writing. Genre is marketing, not writing. It's the means by which booksellers help us sort out that sense of being overwhelmed that @jannert speaks of above. Most of the really great novels I've read can be (and are) pegged to a particular genre, but overlap into others.
     
  19. TWErvin2
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    TWErvin2 Contributing Member Contributor

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    There are many excellent books out there. Many have a host of positive reviews. EdfromNY has it right, in that marketing is a factor. With so many novels out there already, and so many new ones appearing each week, it's a struggle to get noticed, so that momentum can build.

    Of course, momentum cannot build if it's a poor quality novel. And having something unique or a bit different can help a novel stand out against others. My publisher has indicated he sees a lot of good novels, many publishable ones, but it takes that something extra, something a bit different that will get him to offer a contract. With mine, the element of WW II technology and magic, with my first fantasy novel was what made the difference.

    Some marketing factors would be an exceptional cover and a strong initial launch.
     
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  20. Ares Desideratus
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    Ares Desideratus Member

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    Originality, personality, coherency ... stuff like that.
     
  21. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    For the record, when I speak of spicing up this book, I don't mean adding superfluous content. I mean making my world building richer, more intriguing.
     
  22. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    I look at how many reviews are on Amazon. If it's only a few, they don't mean much to me. But when I see a couple hundred reviews it means more. I agree about the newspaper and magazine reviews. I hope to interest the local paper in doing a review, maybe being a local writer will be enough for someone at the paper to look at my book.
     
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  23. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    Marketing is something different than I was thinking about in this thread. Not that I mind people discussing marketing. Marketing is important to get one's book read in the first place.

    What I have been pondering is not getting readers so much as what elements make a book stand out among good books?
     
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  24. Ares Desideratus
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    Ares Desideratus Member

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    What some people think of as superfluity, others would think of as richness or intrigue. And vice versa. This represents one of my greatest fears in terms of publishing a book; the potential of the artist's self delusion. I'd hate to publish something thinking that it was great, but then when people read it, have it turn out to be not so great. On top of that I find it hard to trust anybody else's opinion, which makes it even more problematic from my point of view.

    Does anyone think like this or am I a bad egg misanthropic romantic moronic genius?
     
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  25. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    Oh, I go through that every time I come back from my critique group. :p It's not that they tear my chapter apart, they don't. It's that they often suggest an improvement that makes what I thought was excellent, only average. Then I make improvements and think it's good again. Then I go back to the critique group and on it goes.

    It's one of the things that made me start this thread.
     
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