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What makes a best seller?



Original Poster:

19,048 posts

178 months

Wednesday 26th September 2012
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In the 70's there were massive hits like 'Jaws', 'Watership Down' and 'The Day of the Jackal'. Overgrown shark, bunny rabbits and a french assasin plot. Nothing much in common except that at the time they came out they captured the public imagination big time.

In the 80's James A. Michener, Robert Ludlum and Sidney Sheldon turned out massive multi-generational, huge cast of characters tomes that sold by the shipping container load

In the 90's there was John Grisham with his lawyer-as-hero thrillers.

In the 00's there was Dan Browne and his pseudo-religious thrillers.

Latterly there has been massive sales for books about a public school for wizards and mild BDSM sex.

I cannot see that any of them have much in common? What is it that makes a book wildly popular all of a sudden?

Edited by Ayahuasca on Wednesday 26th September 21:35


2,340 posts

43 months

Thursday 27th September 2012
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Luck and the fickleness of the public. And size of marketing machine deployed by publisher. And sleb status or otherwise of 'author'. Quality of text has not a lot to do with it .Not to say some best selling authors aren't bloody good but others are utterly dire.

Edited to add that marketing can take quite insidious forms; my own publisher (I am NOT a best seller so this post is pure sour grapes)tells me that if you go into Waterstones for example you will see lots of books on tables cover side up. Not accidental- paid for by sweeteners by publishers to give chosen titles more profile.Used to take great pleasure in surreptitiously removing my spine display only book and putting cover side up on table!

Edited by coppice on Thursday 27th September 09:14


11,169 posts

142 months

Friday 28th September 2012
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While we're at it, something that really irks me is how the publishers take the cover style of a successful book and more or less copy it for a completely different book.