What Makes a Bestseller?

What makes a bestseller?

I am as clueless as you are. I don’t know that anyone knows for sure. These days, it is a hit or miss. If you write whatever happens to be selling well, you might have a slight chance of being discovered; however, there is no guarantee, as these times seem to be characterized by fast and furious writing, of aiming a target market and pleasing the publishers. Indies might not try to please the publishers but the readers who crave the craze at the time. Pleasing readers is good; however, not if you are writing something hoping that it sells but your heart is on another place. In that case, you lost your writer.

The other day, I picked up a small paperback, a fantasy/paranormal romance that promised a bit of adventure, just for fun reading; I was in the mood for it. It was from a bestselling author on that genre, who had written many novels, and had won awards. I was truly surprised when (just my opinion) I discovered poor content, weak, poor dialog, and honestly, it needed a decent amount of editing. I continue reading (stunned) but had to skip pages, and eventually, had to put it down. I was puzzled – a best seller, but how? Your guess is my guess.

What makes a bestseller these days? Lots of luck, maybe? Good writing doesn’t seem to cut it anymore. I am an eclectic reader; I enjoy many genres. I have read very good books that are not best sellers. I understand the fever and craze that a genre might cause at a particular moment, but I don’t understand how a poor written story becomes a bestseller. Maybe it is all about sales and hoopla. Your guess is my guess. I would love to hear your experiences (as a reader) on this topic.

10 thoughts on “What Makes a Bestseller?

  1. Definitely not good writing, although good writing would be almost completely subjective. The only thing that makes a bestseller are the sales. There really isn’t any formula out there. Besides maybe putting a famous name to it. Many books that could be bestsellers never get to be. I think we’re all clueless about it and that is why we just ay its mostly luck. Good post.

    • Thank you for your comment. I agree with you. It definitely has become sales driven, more so now than before. It is a new world. In a way, I am glad that readers can pick and choose from plenty.

  2. This has puzzled me also! I recently had a similar experience, when I picked up what I thought would be a funny, light-hearted amateur detective novel for a bit of summer reading (or at least, that’s what the review on the back promised me!), and was disappointed with clunky prose and an unbearably clichéd plot. On top of that, I couldn’t stand the main character. Disappointing! But this book was a best-seller too! There definitely are some great novels out there, but also some incredibly bad ones. I have to say, I am no closer to the answer than you are! Thanks for posting.

  3. I am as puzzled and surprised as you are as to what makes a best seller these days. I am an eclectic reader but most of the times when I have chosen a book with best seller written on it, it has failed to come up to my expectations. Too many mediocre writers and too many mediocre publishers make up most of the market, but sad to say this also reflects the taste of the public these days. Great post and thanks for sharing.

    • Thank you for commenting on this topic. It is interesting to see the many points of view, and how many people seem to have experienced this (with seasoned authors). I understand the fresh writing of a newbie author, but I guess that we expect more from seasoned authors. If anything, we should strive for improvement. No one will achieve perfection; it doesn’t exist, but we owe to the reader our best effort, our finest work.

  4. I’ve read many classics and see little difference in them than others of a given era or decade. Once you have a few in the literary community in your corner – just write. Even if it makes no sense it will sell.

    • Thank you for commenting on this. During the weekend, I read a fortune cookie; it read: “To give anything less than your best is to sacrifice the gift.” It made me think of this post.

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