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Bubastes
12-02-2008, 08:55 PM
This is a long article, but worth reading if you want to keep your sanity in the writing game. It highlights why books sell or don't sell (hint: it's all pretty random) and why it's good to let go of trying to control the uncontrollable:




With perfectly good intentions, all of us look back over the recent publishing successes and disappointments and use that what we see to formulate “rules” to achieve future success. But we inevitably overlook the random factors at play because, as Leonard Mlodinow points out in The Drunkard’s Walk (whose title refers to a classic description of randomness), “people have a very poor conception of randomness; they do not recognize it when they see it.

But unless we can separate out those random factors which contributed to an author’s past success, anything we can say or predict about why she succeeded will invariably be way off-the-mark.


http://julieannelong.typepad.com/julie_anne_long/2008/12/why-publishing-is-making-you-crazyand-what-you-can-do-about-it-the-tao-of-publishing.html

Phaeal
12-02-2008, 11:08 PM
Very interesting essay, indeed. I've long been a proponent of the semi-randomness of success theory, especially in the publishing world. For a while I was banging my head on The DaVinci Code and trying to figure out the reason for the wide success of this leaden piece of prose. Before this, it was The Celestine Prophecy. Now it's Twilight.

Well, here are the reasons I came up with in seeking to impose order on the chaos of the human mind:

1. People love to think they're in on a big, government/church-suppressed secret, and most don't realize that the Jesus-Magdalene marriage thing isn't a new chewbone but had already been well gnawed before Brown started worrying it.

2. People love to believe that they're in on a big government/church-suppressed secret, plus New Age gobbledgook, yum.

3. Adolescent girls (and adults who haven't totally shaken that mindset) are simultaneously drawn to and repulsed by the danger of sex. They also have a high tolerance for angst spun out to the nth degree (where n = nauseum).

But, yeah, I can see the social factor being very big with all of the above, and that my struggles to find sense in the madness may have led me far astray.

I'm also a proponent of the "bat out enough balls, and one may get over the fence" strategy. My shoulders are sure sore from swinging, but I won't stop until my arms actually fall off. Or I run out of prospects. (Haven't ever run out of prospects yet. ;) )

dclary
12-02-2008, 11:21 PM
You know, there's something to say about having a good story and telling it well, too.

The vast majority of Dan Brown, Michael Crichton, and Nicholas Sparks haters hate him because they've tried writing themselves and have failed at it.

My favorite authors aren't great writers. They're great storytellers. The success of their books prove that they resonate with readers, even if they don't resonate with literary critics, literature professors, or wannabe naysayers.

There's no secret to publishing success. You need to have a combination of at least 2 of the following:

a great story
luck
dedication

since you can't ever count on luck, why not make sure you've got the other 2?

Bubastes
12-02-2008, 11:56 PM
There's no secret to publishing success. You need to have a combination of at least 2 of the following:

a great story
luck
dedication

since you can't ever count on luck, why not make sure you've got the other 2?

Bingo. I'm a sucker for a good story, even if it's technically not well-written. Psst: I even enjoyed reading The Da Vinci Code. The writing was beyond atrocious, but the story captured my imagination. It was fun analyzing why that one worked for so many people.

Jackfishwoman
12-03-2008, 06:35 AM
This is a long article, but worth reading if you want to keep your sanity in the writing game. It highlights why books sell or don't sell (hint: it's all pretty random) and why it's good to let go of trying to control the uncontrollable:




http://julieannelong.typepad.com/julie_anne_long/2008/12/why-publishing-is-making-you-crazyand-what-you-can-do-about-it-the-tao-of-publishing.html

Thanks for posting this Bubastes - great article.

Susan Breen
12-03-2008, 06:46 AM
Thank you. That was a very interesting article.

Phaeal
12-03-2008, 07:12 PM
The vast majority of Dan Brown, Michael Crichton, and Nicholas Sparks haters hate him because they've tried writing themselves and have failed at it.

My favorite authors aren't great writers. They're great storytellers. The success of their books prove that they resonate with readers, even if they don't resonate with literary critics, literature professors, or wannabe naysayers.

I can't claim to be a critic or a professor, nor am I a naysayer. Nor do I hate Dan Brown. Haven't read Sparks. Rather like Crichton.

I can read everything from the gods, like Jane Austen, to good old pulp fiction, as long as the writer doesn't distract me with a style (or lack thereof) that clunks along louder than the story sings. The reader's sensitivity to "clunking" varies greatly, but those of us with a more tender ear have a right to put the book down without having aspersions of elitism or bitterness cast at us.

Just saying.

Oh, and you can be a great writer and a great storyteller at the same time. The combination makes for a great book, like Clarke's Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell, to mention a recent list and critical success.

MissLadyRae
12-04-2008, 08:56 AM
There's no secret to publishing success. You need to have a combination of at least 2 of the following:

a great story
luck
dedication

since you can't ever count on luck, why not make sure you've got the other 2?

QFT indeed. That should be on a writer's plaque to hang over the monitor. Or a tee. :)