Uh. All of ‘em.

I’m really being serious. Loooooong ago, I had a prof for an intro to lit critique class. He told me that analyzing a piece had nothing to do with good. Other people with better credentials than some lowly college student had already decided the works I was reading was “good” or worthwhile. They were in the canon. My job, he said, was really to figure out why. 

Fast forward a few years, and I’m deep in the midst of trying to sell my first book (a task that took more than 7 years of full-time effort). I remember what that prof said. And I start reading all the latest releases that way. Every single one. I’d tell myself, “Somebody invested in this book. Why?”

I do it to this day, even with indies. Especially popular indies. I ask myself, “This book has an enormous following. Why?” Of course, Amazon reviews offer some insight. But I challenge myself to find something to admire in every book. Every single one.

The thing is, when you’re trying to sell a book and are up to your hair follicles in rejections, it’s easy to go negative. The negativity can be internally targeted (telling yourself “I’m not good enough”), or it can be externally targeted (telling yourself “All anybody acquires is crap. And of course, I’m too much of a genius for anyone to want to buy my books”). 

Neither is true. I guarantee it. 

Look, every author finds their path. Maybe it’s not even traditional. Maybe you’ll wind up going indie. Who knows? But if you’re on the trek to becoming an author, I HIGHLY recommend my trick. Find something positive and admirable in every book you pick up. It doesn’t matter if you like the book. Or finish the book. Find something to admire. Positivity breeds more positivity. 

After a while, positivity even bleeds into your work. 

In a way that makes your readers smile. 

And THAT’S the kind of work that winds up opening doors for authors.  


  1. I love this idea Holly. It is so easy to list what we don't like about books, but I am sure I've learned something from the books I didn't finish. I am going to try and make it a point to see the positive in the books I read. Love the question WHY IS THIS POPULAR?


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