What do Readers Like?

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I’ll be honest; I have not read Fifty Shades of Grey. I’ve talked to people who love the book and others who hated it, and I’ve also read reviews online that seem to indicate that some people think that the actual wordsmithing in the novel isn’t up to par or that it’s poorly edited. But despite these things, people seem to love this book. What gives?

That got me thinking about something I heard on a self publishing panel at a writer’s conference last year. An agent was talking about the rise of independent publishing and how people in traditional publishing were surprised that “poorly written” books or books filled with grammatical errors were still selling well. Or more specifically, that (some) readers just don’t care about that stuff.

That doesn’t really surprise me. I don’t think that all readers care if your sentences are long and flowing and elegantly crafted or even, if you put your commas on your nose. All they care about is the story and getting to the end of it, and for some readers, bad grammar doesn’t get in the way.

I think the fact that some of these books that would have been rejected by traditional publishers are actually doing well just proves that no one really knows what readers will like. It also proves that no matter how bad people think a book may be, there there is an absolute market for everything.


4 thoughts on “What do Readers Like?

  1. This is such a great post, Quanie! It’s SO true. As a writer, I find books full of typos and grammar errors (ones that could be easily fixed with a cursory glance by a professional editor) to be highly unattractive and something I just don’t want to read. But then these same books will have lots of genuine, high-star reviews! It’s just the weirdest thing.

    When I read 50 Shades, I did actually enjoy it. And by “enjoy it” I mean “I read the whole thing in a weekend and felt like I was covered in grime the entire time.” Like, as I was reading it I was conscious of it being somewhat poorly-written, but also being surprised by how insightful and well-written it occasionally was.

    It’s like ordering onion rings, right? They are delicious but you know they’re probably not good for you. No, DEFINITELY not good for you.

    Doesn’t stop us from spoiling ourselves once in a while.
    Kiersi recently posted..5 Tips for Improving Your Novel’s MiddleMy Profile

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