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Self Publishing a good book

Posted by in Self Publishing on January 21, 2011

What do you think it takes to make a good book ready for self publishing.  The question is pretty much dependent on genre we know, but with all the fiction books out there in today’s market, there must be something that ties them all together under that one banner that says “This is a good book”.

I will refer to three main points that are essential in the production of any fiction book, and for a little fun we’ll see if we can find out which one of these is the fundamental factor that makes a book good; across the range that is, including all genres.


A good plot is of course important when you read a good book, but is it the plot that gets it jumping off the bookstore shelf and into your hand?  The plot is surely secondary and dependent on genre is it not?  You couldn’t very well have a murder plot in a children’s book could you?  So in relation to all other books in the bookstore, irrespective of genre, and despite how absorbing plots can be in many books, it cannot be the plot that makes it good.


Where the book is set and when it is set; is this anything to do with it?  Although some people may particularly like period novels or perhaps books that are set in another country or in a particular condition, but again, this cannot be what makes it a good book when it comes to all the other books in the bookstore.


Here we are then, at the end.  And I put it to you that character is the one thing that all books can share and what makes a good book.  If you briefly consider your favourite books, even over the last ten years and not in your lifetime, you will almost certainly be able to pull out the characters; and all good books have good memorable characters.

Take the BFG for example by Roald Dahl; this is a good book because of his character is it not?  And this book can be said to have a brilliant character much the same as Hannibal Lecter from Thomas Harris’s The Silence of the Lambs or Sherlock Holmes from Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s wonderful crime stories.  So irrespective of the plots and the setting and any other factor that contributes to the production of a good book, it is character in these books that make them good books more than anything else, simply because all good fiction books need characters!


So if you are a budding writer, out there in the realm of uncertainty about which factors of your book to pour your creative energies, remember this.  The characters are nearly always the most memorable thing in a good work of fiction.  You might remember parts of a book but you will always remember characters like Bill Sykes, and then perhaps Charlie Bucket, or Mr Darcy, even if you don’t remember which novels they featured in.  If you remember nothing else about a book, you’ll always remember someone created to be remembered.

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  • Sorry to kefuddle things, but I think the most important thing or rather things which make or break a good or a bad book, is the quality of narrative and dialogue. In my opinion, all other aspects are secondary to these. With exceptionally good writing, the subject matter is made interesting perhaps even gripping; we can see this more obviously in the world of theatre, where usually thought of trivialities are presented so well that the final product is sheer class, it is the same for books. I am sure ‘How a golf ball is made’, or ‘The collected minutes from meetings of the Patagonian sheep herders union 1892 TO 1901’ can be made scintillating by a John Le Carre or a Freddy Forsyth.