About every time I keep thinking about raising this valid question, I swear that the answers ought to run along the same lines of ‘Why didn’t the chicken cross the road?’ While there are a variety of humorous answers I can give to this question, I promise to keep the responses to a minimum. Now, I’m not speaking out of personal sales experience or success stories, but from a highly critical reader/editorial perspective. If you really want a sell, then there are a couple of pre-marketing factors that you need to consider: writing is one of them.
Why Doesn’t the Book Sell (Even @ 99¢)?
Short Answer #1: Because the storyline sucks.
Explanation: If the reader is going to take interest in your story, then you got to come up with something that’s worthwhile, given that the novel sounds memorable, catchy, and does not resemble a copycat story line (Thank you Stephanie Meyer). While the reader does want something that may involve a similar genre, he or she will not take interest in looking into a story that sounds like a repeat from a book previously read. Writers and editors call this i-n-n-o-v-a-t-i-o-n.
Short Answer #2: Your opening paragraph sucks.
Explanation: I think there are plenty of reasons to not make me want to read simple book such as yours and style is one of them. If there are too many dramatic pauses, alliterations, consonances, long sentences, misspelled and sesquipedalian words, etc., who would really want to look at your work in the first place? You sound like you’re going on a maniacal ego trip.
Short Answer #3: Your character sucks.
Explanation: I could not believe the amount of times I wound up putting down the book simply because the name of your character is unbelievably cheesy. Names like Jensen, Mister Ray, and Denny Banister are not going to interest anyone into reading the story. They sound all lame. I remember returning a short story back to the author simply because I did not like the name ‘Krystal Summers’ (as if author wanted me to detect the blatant symbolism).
Short Answer #4: You have a lousy format.
Explanation: I have no idea how many more times I am going to find another writer who submits a book (PDF/hardcover format) without at least including a page number and throwing enough space between the sentences whenever I’m reading a novel. This is probably the most annoying things authors do without really putting much time or effort into when they do write something like that. Not to mention that Self-published writers have this thing of peppering their books with bold, italics, and red underlines that do not make any kind of sense to the reader whatsoever.
Short Answer #5: You have a lousy viewpoint.
Explanation: Oh spare the agony of going through this part! This is probably another annoying factor behind when it comes to authors who submit their books to me. For some reason, I have been turned off with the amount of 1st person viewpoints. If you are going to pursue that style of writing, keep in mind that no one wants to hear the pronoun ‘I’ one too many times unless you’re John or Joseph Smith. Do you realize how annoying your book gets whenever you overuse this pronoun, not to mention how egotistical you come across as? Please spare yourself from the mockery. On second thought, using the 3rd person view would not be any better, especially if you sound like you are addressing a group of third graders. Be wary of how you come across in this form of writing.
Short Answer #6: Your punctuation sucks.
Explanation: This is self-explanatory; I do not need to explain all the missing commas, colons, and quotation marks. Figure this out for yourself.
Short Answer #7: Your word choice sucks.
Explanation: I know this is one of my greatest weaknesses because I am not always certain what the words I use imply. Oftentimes what helps me when it comes to structuring out sentences and dialogue is by having to use of a dictionary and a Thesaurus. I suggest for everyone to do the same.
Short Answer #8: You have a lousy dialogue.
Explanation: I remember one author getting upset because of the comment I made concerning his book. Without having the need of using the occasional speech and dialogue tags, he presented his work in hopes of getting a positive ‘5 star’ rating without realizing that no one would seriously look into reading the work if it was this confusing. Not to mention that the relationship sounded no better than going on a date with Steve Urckel. Mundane things do not need to exceed beyond five lines, keep it simple, stupid (K.I.S.S.)!
Short Answer #9: You have lousy figures of speech.
Explanation: The last time I address this issue was when I read a book by an amateur author who thought that using the phrase ‘Hooker’s Nightie’ and ‘Midnight Rot’ would be the best ideas to convey interest to the reader. Little did I realize that the first one was a sexual phrase the other well, I don’t know exactly what to make of the phrase. What is Midnight Rot? How does it smell?
Short Answer #10: You have no idea on how to be clear and your book cover sucks.
Explanation: The last of the biggies are the usage of clarity and how your book cover looks. Sometimes you can easily see that no one is going to go after a book if the cover looks worse than a 5th grade art gallery or, comes across as hard to follow. I had two authors try to tell me that I need to pay attention to their books more carefully for the less than ten word character introduction. Usually, I would agree to their statements, but if they do not make a proper execution of telling me who the characters are, then clarity is the problem, not my reading.