One of the greatest unspoken requirement of having a career as an in the author is probably the biggest, most important requirement as well.
Being able to write an interesting and compelling book.
All too often we talk about things like marketing, advertising and cover design, about strategies and longevity, but we ignore speaking of this requirement. Part of it, is the fact that most authors aren’t set up to critique another author. Doing so, is difficult. A lot of bruised egos and long term issues arise because of critiques. The other problem is that often, what one person might consider bad writing, is considered good by another. Or it just be a question of preferences. There are authors in my genre who have massive followings who I don’t like reading.
Is their work bad? Or is it just my taste that is wrong? The readers are the ones who decide here, not you.
Here’s a concrete example.
I don’t like Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings. I think large portions of it is just downright boring. Sam and Frodo’s walk through Mordor is an area that I have never finished reading. There are descriptions and descriptions of landscapes that I have no desire to read. Ever. And of course, the book has multiple endings. It’s something that has been commented on in the movie in particular, but the book itself is pretty bad.
Taking all that into account, it’s difficult to talk about craft. Yet, it matters. In LitRPG, we have a lot of beginner writers. Some of them are getting quite good, and some are still treading water, learning craft. Because the genre is so hot, beginner writers were still considered good and were able to make decent careers in the beginning. Now, look at royal road. What used to be acceptable on royal road and is now getting trashed, because there’s so many good or better writers coming, or just the books in general out there.
And then we get into existing genres, things like epic fantasy where other writers who have been doing it for very long time are being compared against new writers, the bar for excellence, the bar for success becomes much higher to cross. It’s stops becoming a minimum requirement but a necessity.
Sometimes, I look at some authors who complain about never having any success and I scan through their work. Sometimes, it’s cover or a blurb issue. That’s why they haven’t gotten any sales.
But sometimes, it’s a writing issue.
There’s nothing wrong with putting out your first attempt at writing for sale, but realized that a lot of times what we wrote in the beginning isn’t that good. Learning the craft of writing is important, and learning how to do writing as business is difficult. At a certain point, if an individual isn’t making it as an author, it just might be because they are not a good writer yet.
Note that yet.
Like anything else, writing is a craft and art form. There are those who start out with some talent at it, and then throw in the hours to become good. There are those who don’t have the talent but work at getting good, and eventually become better than ones who had talent. But, in either case, practice and words on the page are needed.
That’s why I think sometimes, the regular refrain that you should be writing and marketing immediately might be wrong. If your writing is not a standard, it doesn’t matter how many people come in and buy your work through a Facebook post or via an AMS ad. A look inside might drive them away, or they might never finish your book.
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