Books and How to Sell Them

Hah! That got your attention, right? You’re thinking I’m going to tell you how to make millions selling your book. Well, no.

I can tell you that a lot of book selling success these days comes from having three things.

First – a BIG CONCEPT. For example: Girl archer in dystopian future unwittingly instigates rebellion against repressive regime; Orphan boy discovers he’s a wizard and must battle evil super-wizard; Doormatty Twilight heroine knock-off decides she’s okay with being beaten, forced into uncomfortable sexual activity, and dominated by a totally abusive jerk who kinda reminds her of Edward.

Whoa, wait? How’d that last one get in there? How did badly written porn that features main characters who are knock-offs of someone else’s characters get in there? Well, that goes to the second item on today’s list.

Second – CONNECTIONS. It appears to be true that if you are, say, a former network executive with a husband who heads one of the biggest talent agencies in the world, then you can write whatever you want and be pretty sure that one of your buddies at the Club will publish it for you and then one of your other buddies will be happy to help you get massive amounts of free publicity for it. Pretty useful, that.

But what’s the other essential element, you ask? What’s that third thing you’ll need to be a bestseller?

Third – SEX. No, wait, Harry Potter didn’t have that and it was fabulous. MAGICAL CREATURES. No wait, The Hunger Games is brilliantly and relentlessly gritty and realistic. No centaurs or dragons or even intelligent owls, but it’s still great.

Third – GOOD WRITING. No, wait, that unnamed third book didn’t have that.

Third –  COMPELLING CHARACTERS. Huh? Whenever someone can’t explain the success of a certain book (like that one), they say something like, “It has compelling characters.” This means the person speaking happens to like those particular characters, not necessarily that the characters are well-developed or realistic. I find Wonder Woman to be a compelling character because she has an awesome costume and a magic lasso. But that doesn’t mean she’s particularly complex. Really, one reader’s “compelling character” is another person’s total nimrod. So no, it’s not compelling characters either.

Third –  PATIENCE.

Wait, let’s try that one again.


Well, considering how many times J.K. Rowling was rejected, this one is at least plausible. Considering how long it takes to get from “Once upon a time,” to “The End” in writing any story, patience is certainly an essential part of the craft. Far more essential than the BIG CONCEPT or CONNECTIONS or even fantastic writing. Because let’s face it, at least the author of that unnamed third book had the patience to finish the book. And then she wrote a second one. And a third! (Which is a bigger accomplishment than you might think. I was getting tired of writing about sex by the end of my first and so far only really steamy romance. And that was a mere 60,000 words.) PATIENCE, then, is a strong contender for the third thing you need to successfully sell a novel.

But nope, that’s not the third essential thing either.

Real writers know that the Third thing you need to sell your book is A GREAT BOOKMARK. And here is mine.


So now you know the real secret to being a professional author. You’re welcome.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~~ ~ ~

English: W. Somerset Maugham British writer
English: W. Somerset Maugham British writer (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

“There are three rules to the writing of a novel. Unfortunately, no one knows what they are.”

– W. Somerset Maugham

I know, right?! If only Somerset Maugham had known about the bookmarks he’d be bigger than Hemingway now!

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~~ ~ ~

Also – yes, I know there’s a typo on the bookmark and the ISBN numbers aren’t filled in yet. This one’s just a draft. But clearly, this bookmark is what’s going to put me over the top. Nora Roberts, watch out!

[Thanks to the magnificent Ms. Rita Baker-Schmidt for another great design.]


Author: Wordsmith Lynn

I'm a writer, wife and mom - not necessarily in that order. I mostly write contemporary romantic suspense and mysteries. My "chick noir" suspense novel Thirty-Nine Again was called "a first-class mystery. . . and a first-class read" by RT Book Reviews. My secret ambition is to be a Wench at The Renaissance Faire. Seriously.

8 thoughts on “Books and How to Sell Them”

  1. I love this post. So true too. You’re right, at least she finished all three books. I can’t imagine how there was enough story for three books. I love your bookmarks. Did you design them? Who printed them?

    1. My friend Rita designed them. I’m probably going to have them printed at – they’re really cheap and some other writers on one of the mystery loops I belong to highly recommended them.

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