I know. It seems like a no brainer. Of course good writing will be noticed. Good writers get the award nominations, the six figure publishing contracts, and interviews on morning talk shows.
That’s true some of the time. Those are the things that popular writers get. Sure, most of them are also good writers but sometimes hacks receive those accolades, to the bafflement of many, and the definition of what good is will change from audience to audience, genre to genre, and reader to reader. Favorable reviews in publications like Publishers Weekly and Locus are fantastic and can curry favor with the lords and ladies of publishing but that doesn’t necessarily translate into sales because those publications are primarily read by people in the industry. They’re (generally) not read by the people who buy and read your books — and their opinions and reviews are what influence sales.
So how do you know if your writing is good enough to please the readers? Well you can send your work out into the world and wait for the Amazon and Goodreads reviews to appear. Some have found success that way. However, I’ve always thought of it as a Hail Mary pass. Your effort is spiraling through the ether and you’re praying that the right person will catch it so you can ride home on a sea of applause. In my opinion depending on divine intervention and luck isn’t a good business plan. They don’t hurt and I’ll take as much of both as I can get but there is a lot that writers can do to improve their writing.
A lot of writing blogs will tell you if you want to be a good writer do this, or don’t use pronouns, or sacrifice a latte to the this deity. Some of the advice is really good, some of it won’t apply to the genre or style you’re writing, and some of it is worthless bunk. Which advice falls into what column is all up to you. That said, there are three bits that I find are universally helpful.
1) Know your target market. If the people who read your genre devour action packed pulse pounding adventures, then you might want to replace that love triangle with a few more fight scenes. If the people reading your genre tend to be young moms needing an escape from reality then you might want to keep your chapters short so they can read one while the kids are napping.
2)Don’t try to be something you’re not. We can’t all be Hemingway or Tolkien. Be you. Find your voice and don’t be afraid to use it.
3) Become a better writer. Find out what your weak points are. Is your dialogue choppy? Are your characters one dimensional? Do you use the same plot twist over and over? Once you know that you can study and practice in order to turn them into strengths.