Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Best Sellers

“A best seller is a celebrity among books. It is a book known primarily (and sometimes exclusively) for its well-knownness.” Daniel J. Boorstin

In the much talked about Stephen King interview with USA Weekend, he said, “The real difference is that Jo Rowling is a terrific writer and Stephenie Meyer can’t write worth a darn. She’s not very good." I have not read the Twilight series so I have no comment on Stephenie Meyer’s talent. However, I did wonder how it’s possible to be a best selling author if you are not a good writer. One does not seem doable without the other so I tried to find out exactly what it takes to turn a book into a best seller.

A Midwest Review article explains how the lists are compiled but not the qualities a book or author needs to land on one of these prestigious lists.

Pam Perry’s article, Top 10 Things Every Best-Selling Book Must Have mentions things like timing and word of mouth but nothing about content, quality or a good story line.

Dee Powers wrote in her article What Gets a Book to the Top of the Bestseller List that “Quality of writing is paramount. For writers yet to produce a bestseller, comfort can be taken in that both agents and editors rank quality of writing highly. Great writing wins out. However, there are no hard and fast criteria about what constitutes “great writing." It comes down to subjective judgments made by individuals. Book reviewers may argue that a successful book by the very virtue of its sale's success can not be considered great writing.”

It’s all so confusing. Is it better to be considered a great writer and only sell a few books or a best-selling author whose books sell out within hours of hitting a store? Is it possible to be both?

I think I’ll still dream my “best-seller” dreams. I’d love to know I touched thousands of individuals whose subjective judgments all loved The Ride.

Thanks for stopping by.

Tags: Boorstin, Stephen King, Stephanie Meyer, The Ride, Midwest Review,


Morgan Mandel said...

The quality of writing is subjective. To me, enjoying a book is enough. That said, since I became an author, I find I can't enjoy books that break too many rules in the telling.

Morgan Mandel

Anonymous said...

Best sellers aren't always the best books. Pub houses with big promo bucks can market and propel a book into best-selling status, even if not that well written, especially if the author is a "name" already.

That being said, I TOO long for the day of having a best seller (smile)

Nancy J. Parra said...

I want to hit bestseller as well- and I won't be surprised if, when I do, someone says in a huffy voice, "well, you know she can't write."
Meanwhile I will take my sales to the bank and spend time with my fans. :)

Jane's Ride - Novelist Jane Kennedy Sutton's journey through the ups and downs of the writing, publishing and marketing world