If you’re an author, or an aspiring one, you want to write books that are remarkable, of course. But how do you write a remarkable book? The answer is by knowing what the readers want and don’t want.
Remarkable books defined
A simple way to find out if a book is remarkable or not is by the review it gets on book review sites like Amazon and Goodreads. It should get a total rating of 4 out of 5 stars or more.
Readers are what matters most, period. It may be harsh, but unless they give us their honest opinion, what friends and family tells us doesn’t count.
It’s like the parents who tell their son that he’s the greatest singer in the world. He might be good, but not good enough for stardom.
I’m all for positive reinforcement. But sometimes, the problem is by telling someone that he’s good — when in fact he’s quite the opposite — is that he might stop improving himself because he was led to believe that there’s no need for that anymore.
The problem with fake reviews
There is some controversy about some books getting fake reviews in able to achieve a higher ranking in book review sites. We will only discuss the issue here because those instances are rare.
If you are an avid reader (all serious writers are), you can tell most of the time if a review is fake or not. It’s hard to explain but it’s our gut-feeling that informs us if a review looks suspicious.
In addition, a more logical approach to tell if a book has fake reviews is by viewing the reviews (and its comments) with the lowest rating first. If the criticism isn’t written in derogatory way (e.g., attacking the author personally) then perhaps there’s some weight to it.
How to write a remarkable book (or at least a book that doesn’t suck)
You can probably figure out the process outlined below only by viewing the image above (titled: Spreadsheet example (simple)). Here’s the steps anyway:
- Prepare a spreadsheet or simple text file with two columns: Do’s and Don’ts.
- Know the genre of the book you’re writing: Suspense, Romance, Fantasy, etc.
- Go to review sites like Amazon and Goodreads, then search for books belonging to your chosen genre.
- Read the reviews, both good and bad.
- Write the reviews’ good points in the Do’s column. (e.g., memorable characters, good use of quotes, facts well-supported, etc.)
- Write the reviews’ bad points in the Don’ts column (e.g., confusing layout, boring and unessential characters, overuse of colors, etc.)
- Optional: If you encounter the same item multiple times, you may also want to put a number next to the item. For example: facts well-supported (5). Or, better yet add a separate column to make them sortable.
- While writing (or revising) your book, implement the Do’s and avoid the Don’ts. Also, if you have written numbers next to the Do’s and Don’ts, you can also prioritize them by frequency.
What I outlined above is just one way to know what readers want (and don’t want). If you have the opportunity to interview avid readers of a genre of books that may also do. Or, maybe you’re an author who has a blog, in which case you can ask your readers for feedback.
In the long run, it’s all about the readers and their opinion.