This is it. You’ve finally decided that you’re going to do it; you’re going to write a book. So, you’ve got an idea, a concept, maybe even a flicker of excitement. But there’s one last thing you’ve got to ask yourself: What makes a book successful?
For many artists and writers, "success" can be defined as work that satisfies one’s personal desire to create; for others, success is achieved through gaining a spot on the New York Times Best Sellers list; and then for the few, success is granted by society. All of this goes to show that a successful book can be achieved in many senses: and moreover, that the fluid concept of success is what continues to fuel the craft.
Most artists and writers are driven by a feeling, an emotion, or some information that they seek to share. A successful book incorporates this driving force into the fabric of its work in a manner that is both seamless, powerful, and effective in what it seeks to convey. For example, Jhumpa Lahiri’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, Interpreter of Maladies, effectively displays the concept of communication between people as it takes the form of a desire, a conflict, a need, and even an unattainable goal. Throughout the collection of stories, Lahiri provides a 360-degree view of the concept she set out to cover--and has, in a personal manner, written a successful book.
So, you’ve written the book, and you’re happy with it--maybe you even love it. Who are we kidding--of course you love it! This book is your child; it’s your creation: and because you’ve spent so much time with it, this book is probably a very personal part of you, even if the topic is superficial. The next step can be scary. It’s time to send your kid into the world and see how they measure up among the others.
Many factors influence a book’s ability to gain “market success.” One way for authors to achieve market success is by writing for genres with large audiences, like mystery/crime. But a lot of market success can depend on perfect timing.
For instance, gaining a spot on the New York Times Best Seller list can simply depend on the season. A book released in February can make the NYT Best Sellers list with about 7,000 fewer sales than a book put out in December. Timing actually makes its appearance quite frequently when it comes to the strategic planning of a book’s market success. For a book to be successful, there has to be a properly orchestrated and well-advertised period before the release. In other words, you have to pregame your book.
Last but not least, it’s important to discuss the type of success that most authors live for, and that is the concept of transcendent success--or a book’s ability to break the bounds of time, which appear to be so confined in the realm of "market success." Any writer or reader knows that this concept of "transcendent success" refers to The Great Gatsbys, The Jane Eyres, and The Fire Next Times--you know, the books that managed to break the consumerist idea of fleeting success.
Books with transcendent success champion the torch of what it truly means to be a successful writer. Well, achieving this kind of success is more difficult to comprehend, less visible when you look for it, and entirely worthwhile when it’s achieved: in a nutshell, it boils down to a moment of true greatness and legacy or irreplicable authenticity.
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