Monday, January 09, 2012

Writing a best seller

I've heard of three people who set out to write best-sellers and actually did: Ian Fleming, Robin Cook -- a doctor who measured his own pulse as he read best-sellers to see where it rose, and now, Amanda Hocking.

Amanda Hocking, according to that interview on NPR, had written about twenty novels, but was unable to get them published -- she thought maybe she was writing the wrong kind of book. So she went to Walmart and studied the best-sellers to see what sold well that she would be good at and enjoy writing. She came up with para-normal romance and has now joined that small group of authors whose books have sold over a million copies.

The analysis she did, I'm guessing, was only one (fairly small but maybe important?) part of her success. She sounded like a born storyteller--and certainly a hard, hard worker.

But the idea of taking that realistic look at what's selling and matching it up with your own writing strengths sounds like a really good one to me!

Even if most of us did that, we might not sell that many copies--I think to do that, you need to be not only gifted when it comes to creating characters people really care about and coming up with stories that keep readers turning the pages (those seem to be the main thing books that have sold super-well over time have going for them) but be lucky with your timing. It seems to me though that her analysis took some of the luck out of that: she didn't just keep writing -- she matched her strengths to the market and I think that was smart.

BEST SELLING BOOKS OF ALL TIME (impossible to know for sure--this is just one person's guess/estimate)

The Daily Telegraph's List


Marjorie said...

Yes, that is interesting. And presumably her pile of other unpublished manusripts has also gone down since? I hope so. I will seek her out.

And how about Walter Scott as an early example of someone who set out to write a best-seller - well several really, and the process killed him in the end...

Libby Koponen said...

I didn't know that! Thanks.