Many books are published each year and the vast, vast majority never make much of a ripple. They hit shelves, get a review or three, sell under 10K copies, and go out of print. Yet lots of them are well-written in one respect or another. I can think of a few that have even had a reasonably strong marketing push behind them, and yet still found only a small audience. Why did they fail to achieve commercial success?
Now, I know (a) some authors care little about commercial success; and (b) commercial success varies by person and is a pretty slippery concept. But for purposes of this post, let’s call “commercial success” sales in excess of 40K units (in all formats), whether that happens all at once or over time, for a book that manages to stay in print for a while).
What do you think is the difference maker or makers for books that find success and those that don’t? I have some ideas but they’re pretty loose. I mean, I’ve read novels I thought were great, yet they were written by writers who seem to sell very few copies. And I’ve read novels I thought were not so great, written by writers who sell a lot of copies.
Any thoughts on this? What are some of the components of the “secret sauce” of commercial success?