Why I Will Never Be On The Bestseller List.

2nd third of 17th century

2nd third of 17th century (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

If you think this post is going to be one of doom and gloom, it isn’t, it is actually one of celebration – a celebration of writing that is.  I write because it is inherent in me.  It gives me joy and a sense of order.  I am a nobody who cannot catch serial killers and prevent them from doing any more damage – I am too trusting, I would believe what every criminal tells me.  I cannot be a politician because far too often, I can see everybody’s point of view.  I think you get the picture.  The only way I can make a difference, apart from being kind to other people, is if I help or entertain with my writing.  The human race fascinates me and I write about them to put things right.  Bullies are sorted out  and murderers get their comeuppance.   I write to get a sense of order and also to entertain my readers.

I read articles about children’s books being written specifically to formula.  I hear people saying that they can’t use certain things because they are past trending.  I look at the charts and see a lot of the same subjects covered over and over.  Do all kids like mostly the same thing, I wonder?  I know that my own teenager doesn’t because he moans that publishers think that teenagers don’t have a sense of humour.  He’s finds a lot of the material depressing and so tends to read mostly adult books.  I am not saying that there is anything wrong with any of this; I think it is fantastic that children are reading so much.  As far as I am concerned, anything, within reason, that encourages children to read is doing its job and I support it 100%.  I am simply stating that, for me, writing to formula or writing about something because it is trending, would kill my love of writing.

I remember going to a literary festival and listening to a writer telling us about how he wrote his first book.  One of the things which totally fascinated me was the fact that he had taken a copy of Harry Potter and counted the words, lines and paragraphs.  He had then done exactly the same amount in his book.  This was about six years ago and it still amazes me as I think about it.  He went onto to publish quite a few more books.  I would get emails from him from time to time inviting my family to his promotional events and asking for us to vote for his books in competitions.  I then moved, changed my email address and had forgotten all about him.  It was only when I came across an old photograph of my son at one of his events that I looked him up on the internet.  There has been no news on his website since 2008.  This is very strange as he is one the biggest self-publicists I have ever come across.  I can only wonder if all his efforts of trending, jumping on bandwagons and counting paragraphs had killed the muse.

I am not saying that there is anything wrong with following trends and counting paragraphs etc…  If anything, I admire people their tenacity.  I think it is a gift to have the patience to do it.  It is something which I will not be attempting though.  I have gone through my life being the only one who didn’t light up at senior school;  ignoring what colours are in season as I know what suits me and taking my son out of school at 7 to educate him myself.  We all must make our own decisions in life.  I know I am not even giving myself any chance of being a medium seller let alone a best seller, but writing as I write gives me a deep sense of fulfilment and the people who like my stuff really like it.

So what about you?  Do you follow trends and count paragraphs?  Or do you write about want you want to write about?

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28 Comments

Filed under Creative Writing, Inspiration and Us

28 responses to “Why I Will Never Be On The Bestseller List.

  1. And yet we make art so that someone will someday see it….

    • Yes we do and I think that it is really important. Thank you for commenting.

      • I guess what I’m driving at is, how do you balance the two? I definitely try to create art that I personally find interesting, but I also have to try and remain relevant. It’s a delicate sort of balance.

      • I totally agree, I try to find balance in all things in my life whilst also making the best decisions as to what suits my own style. Whilst writing for the public I try to use themes which are relevant to society but I won’t write about something like werewolves or magicians simply because they are trending.

  2. I write what I wanna write. Because I’m a nobody now, there is no point following the trend. No one is going to notice me anyway. LOL

    • I’m glad that you write what you want to. Thank you for commenting. I’ve been on your site and love what you do. I’ve tweeted your short fantasy film because I think it is beautiful. I will be back to read more. Have a lovely afternoon.

  3. The Creative Kitty

    I read your post with a lot of interest. I’ve attended quite a few writing workshops and festivals (such as the London Book Fair) and the one thing I consistently hear from publishers and agents is NOT to write to trend.

    Firstly, because by the time you’ve written your ‘trendy’ book, then God willing got it accepted by an agent, then that agent touts it around publishers, publishers decide if they want to publish it, then it gets revised and rewritten and edited which takes about 18 months in itself…guess what the trend has long gone.

    Secondly, the manuscripts that are noticed are the ones that are written with passion. It’s hard to write about something if you’re doing it just for the money as you say in your post.

    With all that said I’m very surprised that particular author managed to get a book deal, perhaps that’s why he’s no longer writing…being published.

    Lastly, in the age of Kindle and iBook and apps etc…I can see no reason why creative writers can’t just go into business for themselves (while at the same time searching for the ‘Golden Prize’ of a book deal. 🙂

    Great blog by the way!

  4. really? counted line, paragraphs, etc? can’t imagine how that would work. from a publisher’s point of view, i can see how a formula would be safe without much risk, but i would also think that it’s limiting. you’ll have moderate success, but never big success. if you ever look at the book that the movie “hugo” was based on, you’d think “wow, that was truly a risk that paid off.”

    good luck to you and all of us.

    • Hello Rich, the writer did do that and I was as astounded as you are. I agree that it is limiting – actually it would drive me up the wall. I think my hair would be standing on end. Good luck to you too – actually, you don’t need luck – you will do very well.

  5. I guess I’m fortunate that the thing I’ve always wanted to write (YA with some kind of supernatural or fantasy or psychic element) is “in.” It means that I could potentially make a living as a writer. However, it also means that the market is already crowded with lots of books like mine, so many it’s not so fortunate.

    Counting words and paragraphs seems very illogical to me. It’s not like any one picked up Harry Potter for the word count. And the later books are so much longer that trying to imitate those word counts would have made for unpublishable books unless you’re an established author. Did you read any of that guy’s books?

    I think it’s great that you home-schooled your son. I was home-schooled from age 6 to 10 and again when I was 12, and I credit those years as home with giving me a love of reading. I did a lot of my learning alone since I didn’t have classmates, and one of the ways I learned was by reading novels. I wouldn’t change a thing about my early education.

    • I love your blog and look forward to reading your novel. I did try reading the chap’s novels but had trouble with them for various reasons. I think it is lovely that you were home schooled for a period of your life. I do think it aides creativity. Will amazes me with his insight into life and his confidence. Home educating him also means that the bonding is incredible, we are great friends and work together really well. Going back to what you are writing, I think if you are lucky enough to be writing something which is “in”, that’s fabulous. It’s writing because something is trending that I have difficulty with, I have to write about my own truths and passions. I have to say it again, I am really looking forward to reading your book. You deserve to do well. I always enjoy your posts immensely.

  6. I always think there’s a huge dilemma; you have to write what you want to write because writing that you do with passion injects something into it that formulas can’t. But, and here’s my dilemma, whether you write to entertain like your writing does, or write to help and support folks as I do, and ignore what publishers look for and it doesn’t get published then it’s never going to get out there to the folks who want it! So maybe we do have to balance trends/demands with passion sometimes.
    Of course, you’re solving that by going for it anyway with your work Michelle and the Internet’s here too so we can bypass traditional routes if we’re brave enough. That’s why I SO admire you and others who are doing the same. Long live passionate writers and all the people here who are dedicated to their art more than they’re dedicated to counting words! Blessings. xxx

    • I don’t want anyone to misunderstand what I am saying, I truly believe in balance. I am not saying don’t follow trends, I am saying do what is right for you as a writer. This is what writing is all about. It is the freedom to be the writer you want to be. Writers can show freedom of choice whether it is going down the trending route, the publishing route or the indie route. I think at the end of the day writers have a duty to society and we will all find the way in which we will fulfil that duty. For instance, Ross – you have helped so many people – me included – and I salute you. Never think that I am disparaging any routes which writers go down – I am not. As far as I am concerned, the more roads which are open to my fellow writers, the happier I become. I think we are living in a very special time for the writing community and we should make the most of it.

  7. I write what I want and when I want to write it. I still hope to sell a chuck of books so I will ignore the rules like I always have and still hope to win in the end. When it is all said and done, your post is dead-on and keeping creative integrity trumps all other ambitions.
    This is an excellent post!

  8. Okay, I know its wrong to judge but thats a bit……weird.
    I really would like to know his motivation for writing in the first place. All that time counting paragraphs doesn’t seem very productive to me from a creative point of view. Maybe the dude had a form of OCD? Lol.
    I’m a non-conformist by nature, so if you see me following any trends Michelle, you know you need to check my temperature! 😉

    • Hello Nisha, so good to hear from you. The person in question has a bit of an interesting character. I can’t say a lot as underneath it all he is not a bad man but – well – yes – he is an “interesting” character. If you start conforming, I will be there to check your temperature. Hope you are well and happy.

      • Yes I’m well thanks! 🙂
        Sorry, I know he’s your friend, its just that it is a weird formula to use when writing a book! Didn’t work out too badly for him though, if he managed to get his books published…

      • Hi Nisha, no it’s not that he’s my friend, he isn’t. I’m just being careful because after writing the article, Will actually managed to find out what he is up to now and he seems to be trying to make a comeback. It is quite funny actually – it’s a good job I didn’t give too many details out about him. Although saying that, you can’t believe the spin he puts on himself. He certainly is a character in a million.

  9. For some reason I couldn’t find where to write a comment on your brilliant post… you sound just like me, even down to the teenager in despair of finding anything other than adult books to read!

  10. I know that I will never make a dime off of my books! I write because I love the story and for some reason, it completes me! We are kindred spirits I believe. Sincerely, Emily

    • I am honoured to be kindred spirits with you Emily – yes I have to write what I love to write about and I know exactly what you mean about it completing you – I feel the same way also – there you go – kindred spirits. Big hugs Michelle.

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