Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Tips on Writing Bestsellers


Robin Cook claimed to have analyzed the characteristics of numerous bestsellers before writing his own blockbuster COMA.

GalleyCat’s Infographic recently explored the anatomy of bestsellers. Here are some of their more interesting observations and statistics.

They found the length of the average bestseller to be 375 pages.

Books with a female protagonist are more likely to be successful.

But men are more likely to read a book with a male protagonist.

Main characters or protagonists in bestsellers are often lawyers or detectives.

Books set in America are most popular.

The number one grossing genre in fiction is still Romance.

Second is: Crime/Mystery.

Third is: Inspirational or Religious.

Fourth is: Science Fiction and Fantasy.

Fifth is: Horror (Stephen King eat your heart out!)

Personally, I would love to write a best-seller, a novel that is widely read and appreciated. However, I would be just as pleased to write a great novel, one that endures the test of time. Yet an article in a June 2016 issue of TIME Magazine observes we can’t really know which books they will be.

Moby-Dick, Herman Melville’s masterpiece, was not well-received in its day. Melville died poor and depressed. Poe died in poverty as well. Kafka was dead before The Trial was ever published. However, Shakespeare was a very successful and popular dramatist in his own day and has withstood the test of time.

In But What if We’re Wrong? Thinking About the Present as if It Were the Past, author Chuck Klosterman notes that works which endure are ones future societies find meaningful. Someone who is writing in obscurity today, who we have never heard of, could be the most admired author to future generations.

I believe the best approach is to write the work that we want to write, that is meaningful to us, and not worry about current trends which ultimately come and go.

My novel, THE INHERITANCE, will be published by Intrigue Publishing November 1st. It’s a cozy mystery as well as a romantic mystery novel with a female protagonist. Her love interest is a small town Midwest police chief. It’s also a “clean read.” Hopefully, this novel will appeal to many readers. Will it be a bestseller? Who can tell? I didn’t write the novel with that expectation. It’s now available for pre-order from Amazon, B&N and many other booksellers both in print and as an ebook:

 Any thoughts you might have about popular fiction vs. great fiction? Can a book be both?


21 comments:

  1. I agree, Jacqueline. Even editors say they don't know if a book will be a best seller or not, much less stand the test of time. What we, as writers, must do is write the books that are meaningful to us.

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    1. Maris,

      I think it does make sense to write what is unique to us as individuals.

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  2. Great post Jacquie! I pray your book IS a best seller!
    Good luck and God's blessings
    PamT

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    1. From your prayers to God's ear! Thanks, Pam.

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  3. Wouldn't we all like to write the "Great American Novel"? Can't wait for The Inheritance. Your depth of character and theme are, indeed, literary and lasting, in my view.

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    1. Thank you, Susan. Coming from you that is indeed high praise!

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  4. When you look at the number of books rejected by editors that have gone on to be best sellers it's obvious, no one knows. All we can do is write the best book we can and leave the rest to posterity.

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    1. That's a fact! So many great works were rejected by numerous editors who criticized by reviewers who just didn't get it.

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  5. Comforting words, Jacquie.
    "Someone who is writing in obscurity today, who we have never heard of, could be the most admired author to future generations."
    One can only hope. LOL

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  6. We never know which books or stories are going to be the ones that last. We can only write our best work, and hope we find a readership. Good luck with your new book.

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    1. So true, Susan. If we give our best work, there will be no regrets.

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  7. Interesting post, Jacquie. You asked if a book can be both great and popular. I think it can. Austen, Twain, Dickens--there are plenty of examples (though Austen is more popular in our day than she was in her own).

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    1. Excellent examples, Bonnie. I agree about Austen though. Wouldn't she be delighted to know how revered Pride and Prejudice is today?

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  8. Hey Jacqueline. Another nice post. I'm reading (or trying to read) "But What if We’re Wrong?" I'm guessing that's where you pulled your research for Melville, Poe, etc. I'm having a little trouble with the "what ifs" that keep turning on themselves. I guess I'm just not that cerebral. - DB

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    1. Hi DB,

      Thanks for reading and commenting on this blog post. I think the answer to the question is there's no real way to know what will surface as the best literature. But for sure the works will have to measure up to time tested criteria.

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  9. Just a quick note: A reader on Facebook requested more information. Here's the source of the research study on bestsellers:
    http://www.adweek.com/galleycat/the-anatomy-of-a-bestselling-book-infographic/122703

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  10. As Arte Johnson used to say on Laugh-In...Very Interesting.... thanks for sharing the data

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  11. As Arte Johnson used to say on Laugh-In...Very Interesting.... thanks for sharing the data

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  12. Enjoyed your post! Follow your muse and write what is in your heart. That's my motto.

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