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Old 03-11-2011, 02:35 AM
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Originally Posted by Gaines View Post
The biggest difference between a good writer and a bad writer is titles sold. That's how the publishers gauge it.
This does not apply when we are looking at unpublished writers. I can tell if a fiction writer is good or not by looking at the first page. If the story is "told" rather than "shown," or if there is a surfeit of mood-setting imagery without any action, I know right away that the writer is not a professional; or rather, that his or her style needs a considerable amount of polishing.

Remember that there is very little space at the very apex of the "published author" totem pole in terms of sales, and there are far more writers farther down. I haven't seen anything like this myself, but if somebody were to make a graph with sales on the X axis and the number of writers who sell X# books on the Y axis, it would probably look like the right side of a bell curve. In other words, the higher the number of sales, the fewer the number of authors, but the "mid-range" will be very thick, almost as thick as the lower end of the scale.

From this, one could conclude that while there are very few J.K. Rowlings, John Grishams, Stephen Kings, Stephanie Meyers, and Tom Clancys in this world, there will be almost as many Cormac MacCarthys or Neal Stephensons as there are "Joe Schmoe who went to Lulus."

Small-press and specialty publishers who cannot afford Stephen King's multi-million dollar advances have to "settle" for a large number of writers whose sales might not be stratospheric, but certainly are profitable.

Originally Posted by Mike C View Post
The higher up the best-sellers lists, the worse the writing. That's how the pretentious gauge it.
Well, the better the sales, the more major publishers start to view the work as "products" that need to be managed, rather than as works of art that need to be refined. While the writer's name might be on the cover, there are a lot of cooks in that kitchen, spoiling that soup. It's not all the authors' faults.
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Last edited by Another Editor; 03-18-2011 at 03:03 PM.. Reason: Even an editor can have typos :)
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