Why are poorly written books so popular?

This is a re-post of my answer in Quora.

When I crack open the books my kids read and even re-read, I’m appalled. These are books that are published, and sell. They’re full of too many characters and everyone “smiles happily” or “grins.” All the time.

Is there more to it than dumping endless barrels of money into marketing?


I have a circle of book-loving friends who are never able to recommend books to one another. Most people find this strange until I ask this question:

What matters to you in a book?

  1. The plot.
  2. The characters.
  3. The writing.

Each and every single person in my circle answers this question differently, and I suspect it is also the reason why these “poorly written” books have become “so popular” (I put these adjectives in quotes as they are quite subjective, which warrant a separate question).

Once while reading a popular YA novel I had to stop because of a page where the author couldn’t seem to decide whether she was writing from a first or third person point of view.

I thought, Doesn’t this author know what she’s trying to say? What kind of editor lets a book like this get published?!

For reference, I’m a writing >> characters > plot type.

I asked a friend how she managed to survive reading the same book, and her answer was she was too engrossed in the story to notice the tiny stuff like I did.

She’s a plot > characters >>> writing type.

These popular books probably have plots or characters that appeal to a large audience—the kind that thinks good writing is “the tiny stuff”.

So in a way yes, it is marketing. There’s a market out there for readers who don’t mind good writing as much, and publishing houses are selling for that market.



Read Danna Lariba‘s answer to Why are poorly written books so popular? on Quora


How to write like Hemingway

The elevator doors close.

I look left, and see a familiar face. The way his stoic face breaks into a smile tells me I’m familiar to him too. We exchange pleasantries, and talk about the great past time of adulthood: work.

The elevator goes down. My eyes try to maintain eye contact, but keeps going to his hands instead. Rather, that thing in his hands. That thing I only ever see in bookstores. On the reference shelf, which nobody cares for because the Internet exists.

Ding! Ground floor. The doors open.

If I don’t ask now, I might never know…

We’re just about to part our ways.

I break down. Continue reading “How to write like Hemingway”

The Ideas Behind the Idea Bank

I am not an original thinker.

I borrow other people’s ideas, mix them with others’, change them to suit me, and improve on them… until I toss them out for a new idea.

That’s pretty much how my idea bank came to be.

What is an idea bank?

An idea bank is a repository for ideas.

  • I deposit ideas into the idea bank whenever I get them.
  • I withdraw ideas whenever I need them, such as when I need to write.

Those withdrawals are the substance of my blog posts. It’s a great way to ensure I always have a  topic in the pipeline, and so I won’t forget about something worth sharing. Right now even if I don’t come up with any new topic ideas, I should have enough blogging content to post twice weekly for the next year.

It’s also a great way to gather the little notes I have scattered all around the place in a desperate attempt to NOT forget an idea.

It is in no way original though.

Continue reading “The Ideas Behind the Idea Bank”