As a writer who is new to the publishing industry, I struggle to determine which is more important when it comes to sales. In fiction, the quality of the writing or the appeal of the storyline? In non-fiction, the caliber of writing or the subject matter? Even in the music world, which sells more CD’s: a beautiful voice or the melody sung by an average singer that begins to repeat in the listeners’ heads?
Of course, in an ideal world, these artistic creations would be an excellent blend of both factors. How often does this really happen, though? I have been noticing lately, some novels selling very well that are not as well-written as they could be. They may be grammatically correct, but have inappropriate voice changes or shallow characterization, etc. It makes me wonder what the average modern reader really cares about.
Perhaps it has something to do with e-books vs. hard cover books. Maybe because the e-book reading may be done more often in noisy places, awkward positions, or poor lighting, not as much attention is paid to the writing quality as when the reader is curled up with a hard-cover book on a winter’s night in front of a roaring fire. Or is it because the “old-fashioned” reader paid more for that hard cover book, so he or she expects more? Could it even be that the societal trend toward instant gratification sells or encourages “quick reads” that don’t allow time for attention to writing detail?
That being said, as a writer, do you sacrifice what you really want to write for something you believe will be more popular? I find it hard, at this point, to write what I don’t feel passionate about. I keep reading that writing from your heart is what touches others and gives them the emotional experience they are seeking. It would be difficult for me to do otherwise.
I don’t believe there are any easy answers to all of this. Regardless, I would love to know your thoughts, as a reader or writer, about what qualities you think sell? What do you personally pay attention to when you read? What leads you to feel that satisfying experience after you’ve read an article or a book?