In-between editing and blogging, I’ve been reading a few books on how to write. One of those books is “How to Write a Dirty Story” by Susie Bright. There have been quite a few interesting tips and bits of advice in this book. But one of the sections I just finished reading was about how to have a best-selling novel. One of the things that surprised me most about this section is that the two main requirements seemed to be #1 A Great Idea, and #2 An Ability to Market Oneself.
What do you think about this?
I was a bit shocked.
Coming from my inexperienced place, I’d assumed the most important thing was to be able to write something extraordinary. Books like Harry Potter didn’t necessarily have the most original idea (at the most basic level). How many stories have you read about a boy-wizard, after all? But it is her writing that makes this story come alive. She creates this perfect mix of tension, awesome characters, as well as, a unique world.
But if rumors are true, J.K. Rowling was rejected by a number of agents and publishers, who didn’t see the originality in her work… or perhaps, who didn’t even bother to read it.
This makes me wonder what is really required to have a best seller. As a writer myself, I wouldn’t say that I have any plans to put a huge focus on my marketing as I write more and more. Yes, I’ll have to do a bit, but I can’t imagine myself making appearances and taking interviews and all that jazz. Yet, in today’s world, is that a requirement of becoming a best-seller?
Many of the writers I meet are quiet people (not all by any means) who, like myself, might hesitate to become a public figure. I’d like to think that with a little promotion, word of mouth alone will be able to sell my book. But, perhaps, I’ll change my opinion one day.
What do you think? How much of being a best-selling author is good marketing and how much is good writing?