What Makes a Good Book? An Editor's View

Right, a quick blog on what makes a good book, prompted by an Irish Pen meeting last night. The following comments were made by the panel - Ciaran Carty, Patricia Deevy, Bob from The Gutter Bookshp and Margaret (a reader):

Ciaran Carty, ex film critic of The Sunday Tribune, has moved New Irish Writing to a new home at the Irish Independent. Good new for short story writers. He's looking for original stories with something special at thier heart - he said their is no 'type' of story he wants in particular, anything goes!

The stories will now appear on the last Sat of every month in the Irish Indo. New Irish Writing has been running since 1988 and it’s great to see it continue. It's a good shop window for new writers and people like Martina Devlin and Joe O'Connor and John Boyne are past 'New Irish Writers'.

He believes good books are made by good readers.

Patricia Deevy from Penguin Ireland was also most interesting.

She spoke as her role as an editor and what she is looking for in a ‘good’ book to publish. ON editing - she said that good writers are keen to be edited as they know it makes their work better – very true.

‘Writers must believe in what they are doing,’ she said. ‘They have to express clearly what they want to say and their book has to come from somewhere deep inside them.’

She suggested that the best books give readers an immersive experience – which is an excellent way of describing it. She also said that popular fiction is the result of a lot of hard work (hear, hear!) and that writers need to be ambitious and to push the boundaries. Above all she wanted to see original books. And no copy cat books please, or books written to a formula.

Patricia only took on one new novelist last year – one! Scary statistic!

Bob Johnson from The Gutter Bookshop said reading gives writers an understanding of how books work. He also said that originality is vital and he only accepts one in every ten books he is shown as a book buyer.

And a reader, Margaret shared her loved of Little Women and a book called South Riding. She said a good book is like falling in love – you want to spend as much time as possible with the object of your affection.

All in all, an interesting evening.

Yours in writing,

Sarah XXX