I survived the house move in early April, but my writing time suffered, naturally. I'm back teaching. [Speaking of which, I've created another blog, Free English Resources where I post on many topics -- literature, grammar, punctuation, book reviews, analysis, current Australian curriculum streams... It's open to all. I don't have many followers--that's not the point--but I have heaps of page views, so I'm hopeful I'm putting something back into the educational community.] You're welcome to visit and use the resources if you're interested. I'm also back blogging and setting challenges for RomanticFridayWriters with Donna Hole, who's also been on blog hiatus too, writing up a storm.
Today, for IWSG, my post is about the topic - Why do some published books not sell?
I started thinking about this when reading an article by Donald Maas in the Writers Digest. He's a favourite how-to writer of mine.
We've all seen it in blogland -- at times rather vicious comments when an author's book fails to sell. The blame is often laid firmly at the feet of the book-industry, where some publisher failed to promote the author. Other things to blame -- terrible cover (I had a better idea, but they forced this one on me), horrible blurb (I didn't really write that badly, did I?), the timing was right off (how could they release my book called A Crocodile Ate My Lunch on the same day that a crocodile ate a tourist?)...come on, the list is LONG.
There are many vagaries in the publishing industry and unpublished authors try to learn all they can before that magical day when they sign a contract (or in the case of self-pubbed, they hit Publish on Amazon or wherever).
Some books are published on the evidence of several best sellers by the author. I've just abandoned A Casual Vacancy a little over halfway through. I like to read books with bad reviews just to get my own take on them, but I feel like I wasted several late nights which would have been better spent reading a 'good' book. (I don't usually say negative things about books, but Rowling's sales won't be impacted one whit by my opinion). J K Rowling didn't have to worry about whether her book would sell or not--her huge audience would buy it anyway, even though I couldn't find one likeable character out of the dozens of characters she bombarded the reader with in the first few chapters. I hated the foul language, I didn't care for the plot at all and could care less how it turned out (I hear a lot of the characters die, but do I care? Nuh.) I love books about village life by writers such as Rosamund Pilcher and Sybil Marshall, but this one I feel was written for its shock value. Of course, you may have read it and LOVED it, so ignore me.
My point is, there are lots of reasons a book sells or doesn't sell, but it is universally agreed (and Maas makes this point) that 'Great novels not only draw us in immediately but command our attention. They not only hold our interest but hold us rapt.'
Let's get to and write a novel like that. If we don't we have only ourselves to blame if it fails to sell.
I'll list some of the culprits Maas declares may be responsible for a published book failing to sell:
- Timid Voice - this DOES NOT command attention.
- Untested Characters - Make sure your characters show spine, take courage, have high principles or face their deepest fears.
- Overly Interior or Exterior Stories - Be the god of your story world. Interior stories need dramatic outward events. Dramatic outward events need to create a devastating interior impact.