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The Making of a Bestseller: Success Stories from Authors and the Editors, Agents, and Booksellers Behind Them Paperback – March 1, 2005
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From Publishers Weekly
As publishing industry insiders know, there is no way to guarantee a book will be a bestseller. Sometimes a sleeper hits the lists; other times a book, despite being flogged to death, never moves many copies. Nevertheless, it is possible to study how books have become bestsellers in the past and try to learn from them. Hill and Power, founders of the research and consulting firm Power Dynamics Inc., have interviewed a score of people involved in making bestsellers, from the authors to the editors and, last in the chain of reaching the consumer, booksellers. The authors offer a serious look at the business of publishing and how its components must work together to produce a bestseller. Frustratingly, what they don't offer is a complete case history; they never follow any one book from idea to bestseller list. Instead, the book is divided by subject matter, and each chapter consists of short snippets quoting a range of people on the topic under discussion. Publishing industry veterans won't learn much new here, and readers looking for an engrossing account of a bestseller will also be disappointed. So this book is perhaps best directed at newcomers to the industry or aspiring authors who want to know more about how editors make decisions, about the role of the chains, etc. Though filled with quotes from leading publishing people, the text remains a bit dry and textbook-ish.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
"The secret bestseller sauce is made up of this key ingredient--a great book." OK! After budding writers chasing the best-seller dream take care of that pesky detail, they can absorb more carefully the other information offered in this valuable compendium. Unfortunately, much of it is depressing. Literary agencies average about 11 new clients a year. One senior editor says she buys about 1 out of 100 submissions from agents. The book covers such topics as what publishers are looking for; the editor-writer relationship; how bookstores choose stock; the importance of reviews; and the ever-popular debate, commercial versus literary. There are also interviews with writers who have scaled the heights, including Dan Brown and Barbara Bradford Taylor. As a final carrot, big-name writers explain what best-sellers have meant to their lives (money, freedom, and money). With so many hungry writers out there, Hill and Power may have hit on a--dare we say--best-selling topic. Ilene Cooper
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
Top customer reviews
Brian Hill, and Dee Power!
The Making of a Bestseller is well written and clearly organized, and it is chock full of information about how the publishing industry works. Its authors, in interviewing so many subjects from throughout the publishing world, show readers a cross-section of the industry with its various strata, from author to bookseller, laid bare. The book should be of interest to would-be authors looking to scale the heights of bestsellerdom themselves as well as to industry insiders. Fans of the authors interviewed--among them Dan Brown, Peter Straub, Barbara Taylor Bradford, and Nicholas Sparks--may also be interested in this behind-the-scenes look at their favorite books.
Reviewed by Debra Hamel, author of Trying Neaira: The True Story of a Courtesan's Scandalous Life in Ancient Greece
This book is written witht he insight of two seasoned veterans of the publishing business who share their experience and knowledge with anyone willing to read. We learn about the ins and outs of the best seller list and are given a strong dose of realism about our chances af making the list or of getting published in the first place. Realistic but not discouraging the authors are carefully temper our enthusiasm so that we an absorb the information in a way that we can make useful.
In the end this book gives many clues to how to be the excption and crack the best seller list while preparing us for the long road that we must travel to have a chance. Write a good book and be persistant in our efforts in getting published are the themes that stand out the most after reading this book and if we as writers do that then we should be satisfied in our efforts regardless of our comercial success
"Now we know: The "secret bestseller sauce" is made up of this key ingredient--a great book." p. 88 Then on the next page: "in our survey, agents on average said they accept 2 out of 1,000 submissions. A senior editor with a top publishing house told us she accepts 1 out of 100 submissions that she receives from agents. If we combine the two, it means that there is a 1 out of 50,000 chance of a new book by an unknown author making it from the author's word processor to successfully attracting an agent, and then on to the contract stage with a publisher."
See what I mean about realism into the pages of this book?
Yet the tone is not discouraging but informative and helpful to stimulate would-be authors to excellence in their writing, in their pitches to editors and in their promotion efforts. I learned a great deal from this book and recommend it.
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