There are many judges when it comes to deciding whether a book is “good” (or not). First of all, do you, the author, like what you’ve written? Or was it just labor? Second, did you use an editor? What did he or she think? Finally, there’s the consumer. Did you get any direct feedback? Were any sales “good”?
Here are some judgment questions you might think about before you get into the publishing step.
For a “good” book:
- Does your work have literary merit; i.e., is it professional-looking and well-written?
- Is there evidence that you thoroughly thought through the material?
- Is the work fresh and unusual? Does it have something new to say? Does it have a sense of style? Is it relevant? Does it have a contemporary feel?
- Does the work have an element of controversy or some definite opinions?
- Does the work have clarity, sincerity, factual accuracy?
- If the work is fiction, does it have a good story, with good characterization and lots of action?
- If the work is nonfiction, does it have a solid, balanced treatment of topics of interest to the reader?
- Will the work make the reader feel some emotion; i.e., will it make the reader laugh or cry, feel tense or anxious? Will the reader learn something new?
- How wide an audience will the work have; is there evidence that the author knows the market? Could the work still be popular 10 or 20 years from now?
For a “bad” book:
- Is your work inappropriate for publishing? Does your writing contain any evidence of sexism, racism, or stereotypes of any kind, unless intended and appropriate to the text?
- Is your work shallow or does it contain only a few ideas? Is your work too cute; does it attempt to show off? Does it contain poorly done fantasy that goes nowhere? Does your work contain humor that falls flat? Does it contain heavy-handed morals, preachiness?
- Is your work in the same class as other books that have not been very successful? For example, is your work an autobiography that’s not likely to be interesting to anyone but you and your family?
- Does your work get off to a long, slow start? Is your work boring; does it contain useless digressions?
- Does your work show signs that you didn’t taking the writing seriously? Does your work demonstrate ignorance of conventions that are appropriate to the genre you’re writing for?
- Does your work demonstrate sloppy research methods?
- Does your work show signs that you expect an editor to clean up your writing?
After you finish writing your book or other work, and you’re ready to have it published, THINK LIKE AN EDITOR. Try answering the questions above, and make appropriate corrections before your submission.
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