Manufacturing a Bestseller

Or, Why We Haven’t Published Lincoln’s Doctor’s Dog

Did Lincoln own a spaniel? (Spaniel, by Pearson Scott Foresman. {PD})
Did Lincoln own a spaniel? (Spaniel, by Pearson Scott Foresman. {PD})

According to old publishing industry lore, the obvious way to publish a bestseller is to publish a book about Lincoln’s doctor’s dog. This strategy has been talked about since at least 1938 – since books about Lincoln, books about doctors, and books about dogs all sell particularly well, someone should combine all three elements and really blow those other bestsellers out of the water.

But publishing books doesn’t work like that. It should be obvious by now that selecting a handful of the most popular themes of the time (vampires, say, or religious conspiracy theories, or nowadays, zombies) and combining them in a book in no way guarantees a bestseller. If it is a boring book, the mere inclusion of whatever is selling well at the moment won’t save it.

There is something else needed. A good plot and good characters help. But not every book with these sells well. Bestsellers also need some kind of magic that no one can quite describe. But everyone knows this magic when they read it.

In addition, many bestsellers were not predicted before they arrived on the bestseller charts – no one was saying the public needed a children’s book about a magical boy who lived under the stairs, when Harry Potter first came out. Vampire books had been around for centuries, and no one was asserting the world needed a high school romance story centred on one – yet Twilight was a hit anyway. The elements that create a bestseller are elusive and unpredictable.

But at least one ingredient is necessary for a book to become a bestseller – enthusiasm. Enthusiasm on the part of the publisher, as well as on the part of the readers. We here at the Amrah Publishing House believe in the stories we publish, and in their power to entertain. And we are wildly enthusiastic to release the next chapter of our serialized novel, Why Polly?, on Friday.

Polly is just the right sort of strong-willed female character to take the reader along on an adventure, and the people she meets along the way – an arrogant enchanter, his conscientious assistant, a beautiful princess Polly is not sure she can relate to – all combine to make the twists and turns of this serialized novel that much more enjoyable.

So there is no easy, ten-step method to manufacturing a bestseller. Many fantastic books never received the recognition they deserved, and many less fantastic ones became surprisingly popular. But the power of a good story is something worth being enthusiastic about, spreading the word about, and promoting. So do check out ‘Explanation of Long Noses – Chapter 4 of Why Polly?’ on Friday. We at the Amrah Publishing House stand behind it.

Still not sure what Why Polly? is all about? Check out this promotional video:

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