Writing a book: Why Greg’s book is pretty awful

Dec 9, 2013 | Writing A Book

Greg’s a nice guy and I liked him, but his book is simply dreadful. A mutual friend convinced me to talk to Greg because his mystery novel wasn’t selling. Greg was sure that all he needed was “some marketing tricks” to change all that.

Before we chatted, I took a look at a copy he had sent me. The concept was good, but the writing was bad. There were grammatical errors and a typo in the first paragraph. I skimmed a couple of chapters. Things didn’t get any better.

When we met I told Greg that he needed to fix the book before he worried about the marketing. He was several re-writes short of a final draft. Then he needed a professional edit.

Greg told me I was nuts. He knew good writing, he said, and his book was an example of good writing. I asked him how many drafts he went through. He told me he only needed one.

I asked if anyone else had read the book before he printed it. He said no. I didn’t bother to ask if he had engaged a professional editor.

Greg’s a nice guy, but he’s living in a dream world. If you’d prefer to live in this world and produce a good book, here are some suggestions so you don’t turn into Greg.

Plan on multiple re-writes. Work on chapters individually, then on the entire manuscript. Keep revising until everything reads smoothly and you make all the important points.

Get feedback. Have others read your book and tell you what they think. Include some people who will tell you the things you need to hear, not just what you’d like to hear.

Listen to the feedback you get. It’s your book, so you can choose what advice to take and what to ignore, but you should evaluate every bit of feedback.

Get professional editing help. Professional editors help you look good.

Bottom Line

Get the help you need and do the work you have to do to write the best possible book.

There’s information about how to choose an editor in the following posts

Choosing an Editor for your Business Book

How to find an editor who will help you look good