Monday, January 07, 2008

Is Good Writing Really Enough

Whenever I’m on an agent panel someone will ask what we’re looking for, and almost always one person, or everyone, says, “A really well-written book.” But is good writing really enough to sell a book?

The truth is no. It’s not good enough to find an agent, sell to a publisher, or find a reader. I’ve seen lots of criticism on the blog lately, a lot of anger toward publishing professionals. Anger that we can’t look beyond the hook. That judging from a query letter alone isn’t enough and that what really makes a book good is execution. And yes, that’s right. What makes a book really work is execution, but a lot of things go into executing a good book and one of those things is a hook.

Agents and editors aren’t the bad guys here, folks. Our job is to try and bring books to the public that readers will want. Let me ask you this: How do you pick up a new book? One that hasn’t been recommended and one from an author you’ve never read before. I’ll bet it was the hook.

If it weren’t for a good hook new writers wouldn’t be discovered. It’s the hook that brings readers in and the writing and execution that keeps them coming back for more.

And I am curious. When was the last time you tried out a new author you’d never heard of and what was the reason for picking up the book?