Annual Best Book Ratings: Objective or Not?

In my opinion, a book should only be rated decades after it was published, when thousands of readers have lived through it and agreed: “this book has changed us”. Today, I would rather rate the books published in the 1990-es, that would be more objective.
Anyway, thanks to Publishers Weekly for the job of putting together and highlighting some information on the most recent publications for us. With all the mass of books being published every year, it is becoming almost impossible to pick out really good books without the help of such ratings. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Robert E McGinnis and the Secret of The New Cover — Neil Gaiman’s Journal

I’ve loved Robert McGinnis’s covers for a very long time. I remember the first one I was aware of (it was the cover of Ian Fleming’s James Bond book DIAMONDS ARE FOREVER, when I was about 9. They put the film poster on the book cover, which puzzled me a bit because the plot of…

via Robert E McGinnis and the Secret of The New Cover — Neil Gaiman’s Journal

Choosing a Title For Your Book

A few thoughts on choosing a title for your book

As a debut fiction writer, who has spent decades teaching science methodology and writing solely in the genre of science, I have been following writers’ discussions about creative writing lately with unspoiled curiosity of a child. There are dozens of topics in the world of fiction writing which deserve most careful attention, and one of the first among them is giving your book the right name. I find it as important as having a photogenic face for a photo model. The title is the face of your book, it can either help you attract potential readers or scare them away and make them run, mumbling under their nose, “if this is the cover, I’d better not look inside!”


No matter what genre your book belongs to, there are a few universal things which every author should keep in mind (and here the logic of a researcher speaks loudly in me): the title is an inseparable part of the book, which means it must

1) grow out of it (be consistent with it, if you like);

2) reflect the author’s principal message; and

3) identify the genre of the book.

Within a genre, there may be other rules and commonly accepted traditions, but the three above items are the identifying, basic principles for all books. If you call a romance novel “A Midnight Death In A Tunnel”, or call a detective story “My Sweet Emma”, your readers (not to mention the book store assistants and librarians) will be misled.

The title is supposed to set a tone for your book and create a certain expectation in the reader’s mind. A strong title is the book opener, which should entice the reader to look inside.

What is the trick of selecting the right name for the book then? I believe, every writer can help himself with the task by doing the following things.

First, you need to identify the genre of your book, because depending on it, you can set the right tone, or impression, or expectation. It is always a good exercise to put it down and take a good look at it. As an example, look a this: a romance novel “Rick, Deer Hunter” Does it look right to you? To me, it doen not. If my book’s message is to offer people more love and tenderness, I would rather leave this name to writers of adventure books.

To get the taste of commonly used names for your genre, look up a dozen of popular books in the same genre as yours. You’ll need to develop a feel for the most typical names in your genre. As soon as you do this, good names will start popping up in your mind right away.

Another good exercise to do is to write a list of keywords which characterize your book. They may be nouns, verbs or agjectives; they may be short phrases. They should not be the most comonly used words or names. The main quality of a keyword is to characterize your principal idea, the mission of your book, the reason why you spent months of your life writing it.

You may also make up lists of words which describe your main characters, or an important location, or a sensation caused by a scene. Take visual words or words that bring up emotions. You may find a single word whish would perfectly fit as a title, or select a phrase (preferably easy to pronounce and remember); after surveying your lists thoroughly, pick out the words which seem to fit your content the best. Compare your resulting list of titles to those of the popular books in your genre. I hope these exercises will help you select a good name for your book.

There are a few more things which I understood about book titles both, as a reader and as an author. First of all, I realized that a good fiction title always has a touch of emotional tension in it. Compare, for example, these titles:

Bill Murray’s Life (quite neurtal and plain: everyone’s got a life), and

Bill Murray’s Return (provides expectation of an unusual story), and

Bill Murray’s Rise and Fall (gives expectation of a fundemental life story, probably with a sad end), and

Bill Murray’s Revenge (creates expectation of an emotional story with elements of detective).

Comparing book titles is a very good exercise, because it reveals for you how powerful the name of a book may be.

At the same time, the title should be short, simple to pronounce and easy to remember. It can contain a one-word description of a story in action, like- The Intervention, A Breakthrough, or Reunion. It may contain a key word and one more descriptive word (name) to clarify the general mood of the book: My Passionate Diaries, or Darkness At Noon, or The Age Of Innocence. The title may also contain a geographical name, but then, for sure, it should create an image (or a sensation) in a reader’s mind, like these names: The Maltese Falcon, Appointment in Samarra, An American Tragedy. Well, of course, there is an endless variety of names to choose, which only makes the choice more difficult. Still, every writer should keep in mind a few basic things

Whenever I need to give a name to a work of writing, I prepare a little checklist of questiond for myself, no matter wht genre my work belongs to. Here is the list:

– Is the title consistent with the contents of my work (or at least with a part of it)?

– Does the title create an expectation of a particular genre in which the work is written?

– Does the title sound (look) clear and simple, is it easy to remember?

– Can this title entice a reader to open the book?

– Is there at least one special word in my title that can attract my particular readers’ audience?

If I answer all five questions right away and am satisfied, this means I have selected a good title.

Writing In the First Person

Share love. Educate. Inspire.

I just read a nice article by Mia Botha The Pros and Cons of Writing in First Person at Writers Write. Mia feels there is no right or wrong in this question, but there are pros and cons, which depend on the writer.

I agree: full responsibility for deciding how to write the book lies on the writer.


On the one hand, it gives you as an author unlimited access to the character’s thoughts and feelings, but it also limits you in describing thoughts and feelings of other characters. Writing in the first person sets out the main character, opposes him/her to everyone else. It is up to the author to decide whether to allow this to happen or not.

In her article Mia notes, and this is a great observation, that writing in first person gives the author a deeper insight into the main characters’ thinking process, but at the same time, it limits the…

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Being a general in the army of letters

Here is a little note from There is nothing special in these tips, of course, but still- it drives my attention to my little faithful soldiers – commas, full stops. semicolons, articles. I look down at them like a general looks at his army from the top of a hill. I talk to my “soldiers” while I work, I give them orders: “Stay here!” or “What are you doing here? Move to the end of the sentence!” This is my way of surviving through the boredom of proofreading. What is yours?
Five Mistakes To Avoid in Your NaNoWriMo Novel Infographic

Good writing formula

Litcritics love talking about the role a writer / poet may have in a reader’s life. Talking about it has become a banality, but we’ve got to admit: the role IS big. A good book picked up in the right time can make a teenager quit smoking (unlike parents who always turn up in the wrong time), or provoke a woman to take a new look at her life (and probably run to a hairdresser), or push a shy guy to change his attitude to that bossy boss, or even help an old man stop feeling lonely (really hard task to do).

In this connection, I’ve been thinking about a good writer’s role in a life of another writer. To me, the role is massive, not because we are also readers, as many critics say. No, I dare to argue that.

As soon as you start writing, you never read books with the eyes of a reader anymore. Other writers’ writing bangs into your face every couple of minutes, yelling “This is the way you should have described that storm (that room / that person – whatever)!” Then, as a rule, you grow upset (which is good, because it means you are finally assessing yourself objectively), but you still go on reading and occasionally (only occasionally) you say to yourself, “Well, my scene was not that bad, either-” and then the next stage comes: imitation. Every author goes through this stage. Inevitably. You proceed with your own writing, but the hum from that beautiful book is still very fresh in your mind, and you catch yourself on writing “a bit like that talented guy” It pleases you (because you think you can do it) and irritates you (because it is not totally your writing)- and here the most important moment comes: you either quit writing that stupid story or make a committment to yourself to finish it anyway.

There is just one positive moment in all this process: whether you want this or not, your mind is learning. Yes, this is the nature of the learning process: we analyze what has been done before us and then we go on from there. I daresay, immitation is good. It is just a necessary step towards developing your own writing style. And then, if you are talented, plus inspired, plus patient, plus devilishly hard working (only the four items together, this is a formula!) can bring you to the right result: your own good writing. So, to me a formula of good writing looks like this:

Good Writing = Talent + Inspiration + Hard Work +Patience

Yes, It is as simple as Einstein’s theories. Come on, dear Colleagues, stop reading this stuff! Get back to your work. It is waiting.

bored of writing

Book Previews Service on is great.

Just created and published my first book preview at  Not a rocket science, of course, but it gave me that nice feeling of making a little step forward…

Here’s the preview link:

Wish my book a lucky journey, please!

Wish me good luck. please!

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