f a i t h * i n * f i c t i o n: The Place of Sales and "Masters"

f a i t h * i n * f i c t i o n

Friday, October 28, 2005

The Place of Sales and "Masters"

In the grand ongoing argument about what makes a novel good there seems to be one unassailable argument: "If you're a bestselling author, you're obviously doing something right."

That bit of logic drives literati nuts, but I think they have to concede the point. Successful writing is about communication and those whose books are picked up the most are communicating to the most people.

What is the "something" that these authors are doing right?

For many, many bestselling authors, the proof can be found in the page. They are masters of their craft. Grisham can teach you much about the legal thriller. Ludlum about international intrigue. Leonard about dialogue. Sparks about emotional conflict.

But at this point, we need to admit that writing and reading are not done in a vacuum. There is the world of "book publishing" that surrounds a novel which can be mastered as well...and many of the things bestselling authors are best at are outside the nuts and bolts of "writing."

For some it may be more in the marketing or niche they've gained rather than the words on the page. Others have a unique gift of choosing timely topics on which to write. (Crichton seems to have this special ability.) Others have concocted (by chance or hard work) a winning formula that draws readers back again and again. (But while you can study the power of "formula" you can't copy it, or you'll simply be derivative.)

These are important things to the business of publishing. They're crucial for any writer or publisher to think through. But they won't necessarily help you improve your story...and as aspiring writers that's really the biggest thing you control.

So be careful and confident in those who you call your "masters." And make sure you're learning the right things from them.