So you want your book to be the next Harry Potter or The Hunger Games. You want it to be read my millions of adoring fans and made into a wildly successful movie franchise. You want to attend all the red carpet events and win all the literary awards. Basically, you want it to be a wild success. Is that the plan? Yes, no, maybe?
If you said, yes, then, congratulations, you’re not alone.
Almost every writer dreams of recognition and success. Me included. It’s the getting there that stumps most people. So today, I thought I’d share my thoughts on why some books get to bask in rays of glorious success, while others never make it past the treacherous shadows of failure.
Fortunately, the reasons I’m about to list are all the things that you can control.
1) Quality Content
Pfft, that should be obvious, right? Except that for many, it isn’t. Or at least it doesn’t seem like it to me when I’m wading through pages and pages of awful and dull (mostly self-published) books. But it applies to many books published by the big houses too. Before you get too excited (because of course, your book is totally better than what everyone else is writing) understand this: There are a lot of books out there. A lot.
On average, there are over 30,000 YA books published every year in the U.S. alone. The numbers quickly jump up to millions, if you include the other genres.
As you can see, we have a lot of competition in this market. Therefore, it becomes even more imperative that we give our readers quality content. How do you do that, you may ask. WRITE WHAT YOU WOULD WANT TO READ!!!
I understand you’ve put in a lot of effort into your WIP, but if there’s something, anything, about it, that doesn’t quite sit right, fix it. Don’t leave it in hopes that nobody will notice. They will. You bet, they will. So fix every mistake, every plot hole, every boring moment. Don’t be lazy with this, don’t skimp out. Fix whatever you think needs fixing, even if it means re-hauling your entire manuscript. It will be worth it in the end.
Imagine if Da Vinci hadn’t actually tried and “Mona Lisa” looked like this:
If that would have been the case, I doubt you’d even know who Da Vinci was today.
2) Research, Research, Research
Do you know your target audience? Do you know your story? Do you know your characters? Do you know if you want to self-publish or go the traditional route? Do you know what rejection feels like? Do you know how much marketing it takes? Do you know what marketing is? Do you know how much time it takes? Do you know what time is? Do you know what your long term writing career goal is?
If you said no, then, you better sit your butt down and do some research. You’ll come out of it with infinitely more knowledge of your odds in this game. After all, if you’re willing to play, you might as well learn the rules.
3) Good Timing
Yes, timing is also something you can control. I’ve been thinking about this a lot, after a couple of my Tumblr posts got exponentially more notes than any of my other posts had in all the years I’ve been on Tumblr. It’s actually what prompted me to wonder what exactly makes for a wildly popular book. What makes some book stand out and others suffer the painful fate of obscurity. Aside from the content quality and research, the answer I came up with was timing.
It’s all in the timing.
A post I shared early in the morning on Monday got only three likes, no reblogs. After I did some research and found out that a good time to post for my audience was a Wednesday at 2-6 pm, I reblogged that post with my second account. In that hour alone, I got 50 likes. Now that’s something (at least for me, you may already be a Tumblr pro, whatever).
So I thought, if that rule applies to social media and movies (have you ever noticed how meticulous some studios are about release dates?), it will surely apply to book publishing as well.
If you self-publish, do some research and find the best times to publish in your genre. When do the kinds of books you write, sell the best?
If you’re going the traditional route, like me, try to figure out when the best time to pitch/submit to the agent(s) of your choice is.
I know, this isn’t something that guarantees success, but it sure as heck increases your odds.
So go out there (wherever ‘there’ is), write the best book (only you are capable of writing), research (thoroughly), and send it out into the world (when all the planets align and the blue moon of success smiles upon all writerly endeavors).
I wish your book a wildly successful adventure.
I am a writer. I write books. I also write this blog. Join me and together we will brave this vast and confusing world of publishing.