The Making of a Sensational Best Seller
It should warm every writer’s heart knowing that even if he or she does not obtain an agent, or find a publisher to publish their work, that they can self-publish for FREE and set the world on fire with their sensational work of fiction.
Since “50 Shades of Grey,” there have been other authors trying to copy the style and flavor, by attempting to write even more intriguing porn, but the boom has yet to happen, and the reason is simple. No one really knows what the secret is to sensational success. Even if there was such a formula, every book published would be a sensation, and we know that is not going to happen.
Even if there was a formula, it would probably only work the first time because if it were duplicated, it would no longer translate into a sensation. Case in point: Several years ago, a founder of a nonprofit organization wanted to get the attention of Oprah Winfrey so he paid for a billboard sign a block from where Oprah worked, thinking that she might see it. He was right. She did see it, and he was invited on the show. A month later, another person tried it, paid for a billboard sign and absolutely nothing came of it. You have one time to make your mark.
Back to the subject at hand, based on a book such as “50 Shades of Grey,” I theorize that there are three characteristics of a sensation.
(1) Dynamic lead character. When I say, dynamic, I mean original and eccentric. This is a character like no one we have met before. Think Christian Grey. How many men do you know who requires that his female partner sign a contract before they engage in the sexual act. Like I said, original.
(2) Intriguing story that resonates with millions. Think “Eat, Pray, Love.” How many women identified with the premise of a woman taking a year off to find herself.
(3) Memorable scenes that demand to be shared with the world. Think “The Help.” How could you not tell people what Minnie did to her ex-employer’s pie.
A sensational story is like interviewing for a job by millions of people and having at least one-half of them love and adore you. How hard is that? How do you get that many people to love and adore you? Two words: New and different.
I think about books that come out every day. Most books are seldom read by millions of readers and have a very limited audience, even some best sellers. It takes a very special kind of book to attract millions of readers. And the reason is simple.
Most books are similar to all the others on the market. The stories and characters are basically the same. However, “50 Shades of Grey” gave us something new and different, a character we never met before and water-cooler scenes galore.
If a book cannot deliver new and different, then there is no sensation.
London Tracy is an author, screenwriter and freelance writer. She is the author of “Your Life Story Could Be a Best Seller” and “The Curse.”
From HBO’s hit series, “Curb Your Enthusiasm” comes, “The Curse, a teleplay:” After Larry David quarrels with his lesbian neighbors, he finds himself under a seven-day curse of bad luck.
LONDON TRACY is an author, screenwriter and freelance writer. She lives in Los Angeles.
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