By C. Hope Clark –
Nathan Bransford wrote recently about the randomness of bestsellers. In other words, there isn’t some magical power that preordains the qualities of a story that breaks records and defies the odds. Sometimes a perfect storm just comes together. Like the mega waves he describes at sea, the ones that appear from nowhere and make a huge impression in that vast, monstrous water, they just happen and can’t be fore casted.
And yet, we keep trying to understand the process. What’s worse,in my opinion, and this is a BIG gripe with me, is that we also bash traditional publishers for producing books that do not do well. That’s talking out of both sides of our mouths.
We try to think we can duplicate bestseller status, and really learn how to define the path to such a level, as if there was a manual somewhere. That logic should also mean that if we can predict great books, then we know enough to avoid a bad one.
The deal is, people, is that we can only write our best.Publishers can only attempt to predict what will sell. eaders can only pretend to recognize a debut book as a bestseller.
The fact is that nobody has mastered how to make a bestseller.
There is no “HOW TO WRITE A BESTSELLER FOR DUMMIES.”
Just spoke to someone this week who justified self-publishing by saying that he’s read bad books by traditional publishers.
He’s only trying to assuage his own conscience, the one that’s attempting to rationalize into a hazy reality that he probably has no chance with traditional publishing. So he says they’ve lost touch, can no longer produce quality material, thus leaving him no choice but to proceed with self-publishing since it has equal credibility.
This is my reality . . . and my explanation of publishing:
The more seasoned, experienced people who lay their eyes and hands on your manuscript, the better the book.
Note, I did not say traditional or self-published. Multiple layers of review and decision making goes into traditional publishing. If you self-publish, make sure you put the same degree of attention into your manuscript as a traditional publishing house would put into it. Hire editors. Hire a cover designer. Hire a for matter. That is, unless you are experienced yourself. That doesn’t mean read instructions and learn as you go. Sure, you CAN learn as you go, but do not go it alone. You’ll never see the landmines, no matter how many blog posts you read about the business.
This business isn’t about randomness. It’s about diligence and focus to detail. Nothing is fool-proof. Failure exists. Less than satisfactory happens. But your odds improve the more experience you put into your book’s development, writing,and promotion.
Instead of trying to orchestrate a bestseller, just write your best. Then recognize what you should and should not do.
Be daring in your writing. Be grounded in your publishing, no matter which route you take.