When we talk about quality of books, we are talking about...
- characters that are real, three dimensional and that readers can truly connect with.
- original plot lines that have a purpose and a goal
- settings that are three dimensional that truly suck the readers in so we feel as if we are there.
- story premises that are not "manufactured"
- writing style and craft that truly demonstrates a writer's ability to be a true story teller.
But here is the thing I saw and heard though. It seems as if many writers are more obsessed with the platform and the delivery of the book. No, this does not mean they are 100% ignoring craft, but, regardless of all the things editors (both print and digital) and agents were saying, it seemed as if there was a belief that the platform was the key to the success and not the writing.
The type of delivery method we use to get the stories to the readers, as well as the tools we use to market books are certainly factors in the success of a book. But, when it comes down to it, the writing will still be a factor that makes or breaks that career.
As an agent, I do stress with my writers to get the word out about their books in every way possible. Social media, conferences, book signings and so forth are essential tools in their media tool kit. But we extend that even further. We do see the value of not putting all our eggs in one basket. A 100% print release of a book ignores the 100% digital people and visa versa. But we don't stop their either.
We focus on the quality of the writing. We want the best product out there and that is our central focus, as well as it should be for the other writers out there. Quit obsessing over the mode of delivery or the platform, focus on the book.
How has this worked? Here are some numbers for Greyhaus at the present moment. Greyhaus currently has 13 active writers. Out of those 13 only 2 are looking for that first contract. I will say, however, those 2 also have some great numbers. Both have editors VERY interested in their work right now and one is a Golden Heart Nominee. Last year alone, 4 of those authors relased a total of 24 books earning great reviews and many with scores of 4 out of 5 stars.
Have we had rejections? Sure, but I will say that rejections were not based on the quality of the writing, but the timing of the project. In other words, there wasn't a slot at that particular time for the book.
As a writer, it is crucial that you focus your attention on that current book. Don't obsess if you don't have a blog yet. Don't worry about your presence on Twitter, Pinterest, Facebook and so forth. Write that dang book and make it good. This is what will sell.