by Will Viharo
There is no magic formula when it comes to literary success. All you can do is write and promote to the best of your abilities, then let the chips fall where they may.
Mega success is often a byproduct of luck more than anything else, which might make you think you don't have to bother working hard to promote yourself, because it's out of your hands.
But actually, it means you have to work even harder.
Studying the pathways taken by others can provide an instructive roadmap as the indie author navigates the treacherous, unpredictable, often hostile terrain of today’s volatile marketplace.
A look at two recent success stories in the Thriller genre proves that while not everyone gets away with it, Crime often pays.
Currently the “instant” #1 New York Times bestseller on Amazon Kindle list is The Girl on the Train (Penguin Books) by Paula Hawkins, just released in January. It is being likened by critics to Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl which is a lucrative, coveted comparison for any thriller writer, especially of the female persuasion, since statistically most readers are of the feminine gender, so naturally they gravitate towards fiction that relates most directly to their personal experience, even if it’s essentially a fantasy.
Hawkins’ achievement is all the more impressive since her only previous published book is a non-fiction, non-hit called The Money Goddess: the Complete Financial Makeover, released in 2007. It sports a single 4-star review on its Amazon page. Conversely, her debut novel is touted as one of Amazon’s Best Books of the Month.
Obviously she is having much better luck with fiction.
On the male/indie flipside, Uncle Dust by Bay Area author Rob Pierce, published by the reputable small press All Due Respect, was likewise just released in January is already #7 in the Kindle Books Crime/Heist category and #13 in the Noir subcategory. Though he is an accomplished short story writer and magazine editor, this is Pierce’s first novel and so far it’s garnering unanimous 5-star customer reviews, so word of mouth is no doubt propelling its sales rank. This is an enviable position for any newly published novelist to boast, but it’s only partly due to chance.
Both of these books are in a similar field, written in completely different styles for totally different audiences (Pierce’s book is more in the classic David Goodis roman noir vein), but because they’re both well-crafted and expertly promoted by their respective publishers from opposite sides of the industry spectrum, they’ve managed to hit the bullseye right out of the gate.
But for every book that breaks through that seemingly impenetrable barrier, there are dozens if not hundreds more that quietly sink into total oblivion, despite the fact they are also entertaining and professionally composed. Sometimes changing genres could be the right move, as it was for Hawkins, other times it's about simply Increasing awareness of your book to give it a better chance at earning profitable sales numbers, since it’s basically a numbers racket: you can only beat the house if you make your own odds.
What bestselling books have you read lately – and why do you think they did so well?
PHOTO: ALL DUE RESPECT BOOKS