About That Secret Formula To Bestseller Success…

Guest Post, Mickey J. Corrigan

When I attended a book marketing meeting last year, two of my fellow attendees insisted they had discovered “the way” to create bestselling books. Both of these men (would a woman even say this kind of thing?) were in the process of writing their first book. They expected nothing less than greatness and a massive payoff once they were done.
Without any encouragement, the two writers informed the rest of us at the meeting exactly how it’s done. They had studied bestselling books for shared ingredients and each had developed a never-fail secret formula. They had read numerous how-to books and articles on creating a manuscript that sells. They had delved deep into the best ways to market books. And each man was sure he had a bestseller in the works.
Cock sure, I would have to say.
Sorry to admit this, but after listening to these guys I’m afraid I was rude at that meeting. I questioned the two writers on their intractable self-confidence. Did they have any real life experience in marketing books? No. Had they worked with literary agents, editors, publicity departments in big New York publishing houses. No, no and no.
I have done all these things. And let me tell you what I told the two new novelists: nobody can predict a bestseller. Certainly literary agents try, editors and publishing houses bet their wad on certain books. They know, however, what a crapshoot it is. The book business is like a roulette table. Only the odds are worse. And there is no house. Sometimes nobody wins.
Why? Because nobody knows what will take off (Fifty Shades, Harry Potter, Twilight) and what won’t (list my books here). If publishers (or the many authors of how-to-write-a-bestseller books) did know the magic recipe, wouldn’t all of their books be megahits?
The reality is, the contemporary world of book publishing is like the wild west. Pony up, arm yourself to the teeth, and head out. Be brave. Give it a shot. That’s the best you can do. And maybe after years of riding hard and working up a real lather, you will get somewhere. Maybe you’ll strike it rich, find gold, settle down on fertile soil. Some do. But most don’t.
So don’t listen to those people who promise you an easy way. There is no easy way. Writing is hard. It takes a long time. Your art needs to be original, your craft clean and fresh. All this takes an awful lot of effort. And once you finish writing a manuscript, just when you are ready to sit back and pat yourself on the shoulder and say, good job, let’s have a nice glass of Merlot, the real work begins.
Because then you have to sell the darn book!
Next time somebody tells you they have the secret to success, you can tell them this: You know what it takes to write a great book, and the rules are simple.
1. Read a lot.
2. Write every day. Rewrite every day.
3. Stay in your chair. And stay on it. For as long as it takes.
Still, there’s no guarantee your hard work will ever pay off. But that’s life, isn’t it?
Speaking of life, last time I checked, titles by either of those two men from that marketing meeting have yet to appear on any bestseller lists. I hear both are still working on their first book. I wish them massive success.

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