View Full Version : Writing and books and using all the right words - if not in the right order.

Loose rivets
19th Sep 2016, 02:50
I was moved to join BookBub today. I filled in some stuff so as to promote my book. It certainly needs it. Anyway, after loads of ticking boxes, I turn the page and get to the submit bit. 300. Oh, F:mad:k off! I don't mind paying to get things done but I do mind being told it's going to be a fortune on the last line. Not one mention of cost prior to that. Here I should say, they are only going to GIVE my book away, not charge for it. That seems a lot to just put something on an existing database.

At some point, I noticed a remarkably forgettable book which I'll have to look in my Kindle for.

Noise of rustling keyboard.

Oh, yes. The Einstein Prophecy. Has anyone got time to pop into it and comment on the writing? You can do that by touching the front cover on the ad. I'm bewildered. I don't know about the story yet, but the writing is simply so bad that it takes my mind off any scene-setting.

Right away, it talks of radio being messed up by silver foil. I have a feeling that was confined to radar, but I may be surprised if I dig deep enough.

Anyway, the main point is writing quality and I'd appreciate some comments as it helps me to set a bar below which I must not fly.

In Geoffrey Archer's Clifton Chronicles there's a line: her lips parted as they fell on the bed.

There I was, getting all steamed up over this lovely Russian translator, and the imagery descends to Tom and Jerry level. Having said that, I rushed for the next volume for the first five. I suppose that's why he counts his millions in hundreds . . . and I don't. :uhoh:


Ali Qadoo
19th Sep 2016, 06:30
Even getting accepted by BookBub isn't easy. Their criteria are fairly arcane and not just down to the number and ranking of your Amazon reviews. That said, I hear that BookBub does get good results and you should (in theory) see a positive return on your 300.

As for the 'quality' of some of the books that make huge sales, remember that it's a 'best seller' list, not a 'best writer' list. Yup, it frustrates the heck out of me too when I see what I consider badly written dross selling in bucketloads, but the answer has to be, 'if you can't beat 'em, join em'.

19th Sep 2016, 09:03
Not the easiest reading style, although on the beach with nothing else to do I'd probably read it.

Foil would hinder radio, but it's not very practical as you'd have to drop a lot of foil over a big area to achieve anything. I suppose if you knew that an enemy agent was going to transmit from a certain area at a certain time you could saturate the area and stop him passing his message, but a bit unlikely.

As you say it was developed specifically to "foil" RADAR and that's probably what the writer meant, although technically I suppose the use of the word "radio" is not incorrect - as RADAR stands for Radio Detection and Ranging.

19th Sep 2016, 09:56
The mention of Jeffrey Archer, and 'badly made dross selling in bucketloads' made me think of an interview with Frederick Forsyth on the radio the other day. The interviewer asked him if he minded that literary critics tended to look down on his writing style. He said he knew they did and once asked Jeffery Archer if he minded the same thing. He said he did, and it made him cry - all the way to the bank!

19th Sep 2016, 10:37
Right away, it talks of radio being messed up by silver foil



Gertrude the Wombat
19th Sep 2016, 11:28
If your book is good enough there are people called "publishers" who will take it on, market it and pay you for it.

I am obviously not claiming that all vanity-published or self-published books are crap, but equally obviously quite a number are, and the buyer of such books is taking that risk. I bought a self-published book recently, and whilst the material was interesting and the writing was good enough not to detract from the material there were clearly areas of design and organisation that could have benefited greatly from the attention of a publisher. (Even I could have done better, having spent time hanging around with people in the trade.)

Sir Niall Dementia
19th Sep 2016, 11:29
I get a daily e-mail from BookBub that targets my chosen reading, I dread to think how much I've spent! My Kindle currently has 328 books on it and my Kindle account has another 800+ in storage.


19th Sep 2016, 15:05
If your book is good enough there are people called "publishers" who will take it on, market it and pay you for it.

J.K.Rowling's agents received rejections from 12 different publishers until Bloomsbury agreed to publish Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone . Her global sales now exceed 450 million. Those publishers must feel like Decca did after rejecting The Beatles and then seeing what happened.

Loose rivets
19th Sep 2016, 16:58
Yes, I'm aware of the joys of being published. I witnessed my D-I-L's Pathless Sky making her a real writer for the first time. Chaitali Sen was an American schoolteacher and now committed to being a full-time writer.

She set her book at about the maximum page count for an unpublished writer - despite having sporadic success in small publications. I, on the other hand, wandered off on my fantasy and needed 1,500 pages to contain it. I made the first book about 700 pages - about double the maximum for an unknown.

I simply had no idea how much more it cost a publisher to go to that increased all-up-weight.:hmm: As I've said before, the Rivetess recently enlightened me. I was astonished. I mean, the book, the cover, the art etc., is the expensive bit and a few more pages won't cost a lot, right? Wrong.

(sorry, I got thinking about life and where to go next, and I noticed I'd written this. One is obviously at a watershed period of life.)

After a long first chapter, I launch into an even longer post-funeral scene. It had flash-backs with flying, but the people and the emotions were the main issues to get across. One chap on a physics forum (with a Sci-fi discussion section) said he really disliked the chapter and that he'd sat at his computer for half an hour trying to think of a way to say just how much he hated it. It's a chapter I loved, and somehow couldn't bring myself to cut a single word from. Perhaps I should have listened because a writer you'd all know told me recently that he had talked to his agent about it and they both agreed the time where nothing exciting happened was way too long. People don't want to pay for nothing happening :p I suppose the meaning was either too deeply hidden to be apparent to the disappointed and consequently impatient reader, or they just don't like hanging around in timeless old English rectories. Shame.

Recently, one of our newish members, a professional guy, gave me a lot of feedback on the issues that made my book technically faulty and indeed, hard work to find any literary value. But then he wrote something that made me think it might just be worth a rewrite. That's a year's work, and with the sequel, a full two years before the novel is truly complete. I'm not sure I have time.:uhoh:

(quoted with his permission)

The Perfect Code
There are two kinds of fiction books: those which might be very fast-paced and entertaining but really are very low on soul-nourishing content and leave a somewhat hollow feeling when finished, and the other kind, maybe less fast-paced and not always a page turner, but which are able to give something else to the reader. THE PERFECT CODE clearly belongs to this second category of books. It's not fast-food, it's quality slow-food.
I would still call it a science-fiction book, even if the metaphysical aspect is strong. It not only opens up philosophical questions about the existence as such, a possible pre- and afterlife, and the workings of good and evil, but also introduces a more advanced set of physical rules and a hypothetical alternative theory of creation/evolution. Therefore, I would call it a metaphysical science-fiction story with strong family bonding, a touch of nostalgia, very well described flight action and very detailed world-building. Virtually all characters are friendly and sympathetic, almost smiling a tad too often. There are two antagonists: a rather weak one which manifests itself as an intrapsychic conflict in the protagonist ("Will") himself, and a very strong one, who influences the action from a hidden place and is only brought to the front as the story progresses.
What I liked about the book was its nice writing style and realistic detail, the very consistent emotions, a nice set of characters featuring a very well-crafted main character and his family, the metaphysical aspect intermingled with some authentic facts which can be googled and some aspects of which were new to me.

The language is very British featuring a plethora of idioms and phrases. Being a non-native speaker, this slowed me down a lot, but it was a welcomed opportunity to enhance my vocabulary.

Two things I did not like so much: First, the book is rather slow-paced. Out of 40 chapters (including prologue and epilogue), only about 5 chapters feature mind-gripping tension where I would not put the book down. Suspense builds only slowly; it is not the main driving force to keep reading. What kept me going was my curiosity about the world-building process. The main character slips into the role of a neophyte and, together with the reader, discovers the workings of a unknown set of rules and a new reality. This introduction is masterfully done, albeit sometimes a bit too slowly-paced for my gusto.

Why not 5 stars?
The intrapsychic conflict of the protagonist could have been more prominent and his supervisors could have been somewhat less lenient on some aspects of his behavior... It's just a bit too friendly with family bonds everywhere. Also, in this context it would have been nice to have a philosophical discussion among the crew about dealing with evil versus the policy of non-interference. Maybe we'll see some of that stuff dealt with in the sequel...?

19th Sep 2016, 19:40
If your book is good enough there are people called "publishers" who will take it on, market it and pay you for it.Not really any more. A typical advance in North America is a couple of thousand dollars, and many publishers don't give an advance at all, just pushing out books by new writers as ebooks and paying them a percentage of sales. Just a worse percentage than Amazon would.

And that's after you've found an agent and given them 15% of any money you make, or found a publisher who'll read your book if you don't have an agent.

Unless you're the rare newbie who's offered a six-figure advance, I can't see any reason to send a book to a traditional publisher any more. Even there, a writer who got a big multi-book deal for books that were later made into movies was sued by his publisher recently because they didn't want to publish his most recent book and wanted the advance back.

There are a handful of newer, Internet-savvy small publishers who treat writers well and have the fan-base to sell a lot of books. That's about it.

Effluent Man
19th Sep 2016, 20:19
It's a myth that the best books get published. It's the airport buy, holiday read that publishers go for as it's simply about figures. That us why you get pulp novels with celebrity names attached. Having said that I read one by Richard Madely and it was quite good.

Loose rivets
24th Sep 2016, 01:47
I'm feeling guilty now. I'm reading the Einstein Prophesy and quite enjoying it. There's a lot of the same kind of hanging about that people complain about in my book, but I have often argued how important it is to linger in a very slow scene.

The faults in the writing are there. Broken - throwing in another subject altogether sometimes - lines that are so detached that I - while I'm sipping my tea - that comes from India - and eating a biscuit - forget what was going on.:}

But all in all, I'm intrigued enough to be fighting sleep at nearly 2AM so that I can get into the next, and the next, and the next, chapter.