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What makes a book take off?

It's interesting how tricky publishing can be. I've been asked from time to time, typically from people who are not writers, what makes a book take off? My answer = I have no idea.

It can be a character, a new trend, a slogan in the book that becomes popular in everyday culture. Why did TWILIGHT take off? HUNGER GAMES? FIFTY SHADES? Who knows. One thing is for certain, when one of these books takes off, it starts a domino effect. Readers want more. So with TWILIGHT we had a surge of paranormal romance. HUNGER GAMES lit up the dystopian genre. And now with Fifty Shades you'll see that many of the top sellers are spicy women's fiction.

But I think there is one commonality in all popular books--reader investment, and I'm not talking about the cost of the book. Readers like to get invested in the story--whatever that story may be. Which is why I think books with little to no marketing budget can do well. Word of mouth is still the most powerful marketing tool and once it's activated, there's no stopping it.

So tell me, why do you think books take off? And what do you think is the next trend?

~ Mel


  1. I think books just get lucky. All you need is one person to spread the love and it takes off. Because if that one person raves about your book and other people believe them then they'll buy it too and then it webs out from there. It also helps I guess if a really well known person picks up your book... like "oh a celeb is reading it? Well then I must buy it!". Haha, I don't know.. just kind of throwing my thoughts out there.

    And the next trend? Definitely Beautiful Disaster by Jamie Maguire. Which is fantastic btw! :)

    1. LOL! Funny, I was just reading about how Beautiful Disaster was picked up by Atria. I read it, though I didn't like it quite as much as I liked Easy. :)

  2. I actually wrote a rather lengthy essay awhile back about the popularity of Twilight and why it was so. I think I just needed to wrap my head around "why?!" and "how?!" Haha. Unfortunately, I don't remember what my conclusion or thesis was.

    Of course in the case of 50 Shades I think it was the combination of The Today Show & the fact that it is basically fanfic. I haven't actually read it, so I don't really know though.

    As for the next trend? Alien sci/fi of course! (Hoping anyways.) I would love to see more of it out there!

  3. Word of mouth is pretty powerful, right? It's funny, but I would never have read any of the books you mentioned (Twilight, 50 Shades, even The Hunger Games) if others hadn't been raving about them. I think curiosity plays a big part too. For instance, Beautiful Disaster... it probably wasn't my sort of book to start with, but everyone was talking about it on Goodreads and I just had to see what all the fuss was about. ;) If a book takes off, then it sure is lucky! :)

    1. Same for me with Beautiful Disaster. I kept seeing it pop up on GRs and decided I needed to know what the fuss was about.


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