Wednesday, July 7, 2010

To get a useful answer, you must ask the right question

So it occured to me today that maybe instead of asking, "How to write a bestseller?" I should be asking, "Should I try to write a bestseller?"

I mean what does a bestseller mean to me? Money? Recognition? Would that make me happy? Who wants that? My innermost soul or just the ego? If the easiest way to write a bestseller is to follow a trend I don't particularly like or include more sex scenes than I'm comfortable with, should I still go down that path?

Going by the rule that you should write the kind of books you like to read, I should be writing books that entertain, uplift and encourage. I've been writing for about 20 years now. I've written over 30 books in this period. (Not all of them got published.) I even went back to university for a graduate degree in Writing Popular Fiction. The truth is, I would like to write really good books, the best books I can possibly write. Someday, I'd like to write a book until I feel that it's finished. (Not until the publisher's deadline runs out.) Is that even realistic in this industry?

So here is what I think today: I would like to write entertaining, uplifting and encouraging books to the best of my ability. And as I'll be putting all my heart and soul into these books, I'd like them to reach as many readers as possible. And one way to measure what readership I reached, is the bestseller lists. So yes, I do want to make it there.

Now, back to the question of HOW. Hmmm, am I going around in circles here?


RuthZ said...

Great blog! As a writer, I've thought many times I want to write a Bestseller!". But, I do not want to write the trendy novel or the simple story line that can be predicted in chapter one but ends in chapter 29. I prefer a story to sink my teeth into that will keep the reader intrigued, turning the page and wanting more. Alas, many publishers have told me, KEEP IT SIMPLE! Simple is boring...So, what as you do with intrigue and talent your following will continue to grow and that bestseller will be had before you know it!
All the best,
Ruth G. Zavitsanos

Dana Marton said...


I loooved THE VILLA DOG. That's exactly the kind of book I mean when I think about a "book of the heart." You didn't rush, you didn't settle, and it shows.

heidi ruby miller said...

What a small world!

Hi Ruth!

(Ruth and I met two months ago at the Pennwriters Conference.)

I've been following your posts about where to go next because it seems that no matter where each of us are in our careers, there is always a next level. That fascinates me because I'm reaching for my next level right now, which is where you currently sit.

And, when I was at Seton Hill, I was working toward getting my degree. That's done, so I'm ready to move on.

Keep the "thinking out loud" coming! It's inspiring.


Dana Marton said...

Ruth and I know each other from VFRW (an RWA chapter). She's one of my favorite people. I often think that the best thing that came out of my writing is the friends I made in the process.