Why do people buy books? It’s a valid question, when you’re trying to write one and especially when you want an agent or a publisher to take a chance on you. You are not one of Buddha’s special snowflakes. Your excrement has as foul an aroma as the next wannabe writer’s. There is nothing amazing about you. Now, why should someone buy your book? Well, the only answer is: because they think that they’d enjoy reading it.
When you grow up and become the next Stephen King or Dean Koontz, that decision will be (for most readers anyway) made by just having your actual name on the front of the book. People will forgive their favourite author a shitty cover, a boring blurb or (in the case of Stephen King’s Insomnia) a massively rubbish whole first half of the book. That’s the reader faith you build up from years of dishing out the fuck-yeah-awesome.
Until then though, you may have to resort to actually writing something great, in order to catch the eye of Johnny Reader, or Bobby Agent. Or Mary-Jo McPublishinghouse. And by ‘great’, I don’t mean that your writing has to be as good as James Joyce or Herman Melville. Because what even the fuck is good writing? It’s like beauty- it’s subjective. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but there’s a consensus on Hideously Ugly. It’s the same with writing.
There is a standard of competency below which everything is Bad Writing (EL James, Dan Brown, Stephenie Meyer). Above it, everything is Not Bad Writing. And being Not Bad At Writing really guarantees you fuck all. Be it from agents, publishers or the lady in Barnes & Noble with her purse open. Notice how my three examples of writers below the line of competency are world famous, multi-fucking-platinum selling uber-authors.
It doesn’t matter if you can’t write, as long as you have a great idea. Sure, every agent will turn you down, and your book will never be published. You’ll still have a great idea though, and if you wish hard enough, one day you will be JK Rowling. And then you can buy a gold toilet, and some Mexican slaves. The trick is to believe in yourself, because literally NO ONE else does. Reach for the sky. Push the envelope. Push the envelope into the sky, so that other people can’t reach for the envelope.
I think the point I’m making, if any, is that it doesn’t matter who hates what you do, as long as someone loves it. Anyone who sits in judgement over your book or story and tells you in great detail why it’s well written, is usually talking out of his or her arse as much as the people who sit there and tell you how shit it is. No one is qualified to give these critiques (I’m looking at you, 4chan /lit/ board), and they really don’t matter. All that matters is: did you like it? Yes or no. If it’s no, then that’s unfortunate and sad, but I have to move on. I don’t need six paragraphs of guff to qualify what is essentially a matter of taste. I know that I can write, so you pointing out anything technical to me is a waste of time. I won’t respect it. I’m better than you. You’re not going to dissuade me from pursuing this as a career.
I’m only half-serious, obviously. I welcome critique from all quarters. As long as it’s 100% positive, praising and encouraging; contains no negative views about me or my abilities, and has at least a paragraph devoted entirely to praising just how smooth and non-veiny the shaft of my penis is. Once you understand those rules, I’ll throw open the floodgates and let you all have your two cents worth.
Remember: smooth and non-veiny. With a taste not unlike sorbet.