Sunday, March 28, 2010

Does "best seller" mean a good book?

We've all seen the words "best seller" on book covers. "New York Times Best Seller" or "International Best Seller" or something like that. But what does that really mean?

The words "best seller" are supposed to mean prestige and nobility. They create awe in all of us and make us believe that this piece of work is magnificent. In other words, "best seller" means good. Right?

Not necessarily.

I have read many "best sellers," and, I gotta say, most of them did not live up to the hype. Most of them were lacking in flavor. They basically bored me from page one. I gotta say that some of them bored me so much I couldn't even finish the book. When a book starts putting me to sleep, that's a red flag.

Now the question is: why?

As I read some of these "best sellers," I remember thinking, "this author could be anybody." There was nothing distinct about them--not in the voice, not in the personality, not even in the so-called humor. Lines that were supposed to be funny didn't even make me snicker. In a nutshell, these books were generic. And I hate generic.

So what does this mean in the world of publishing? I mean, I know that the money prospects is a big factor in whether or not a book gets published. The publishers want to make sure they make a lot of money. Nothing wrong with wanting to make a lot of money. And, yeah, maybe that's why they keep publishing a lot of the "best sellers" (they don't even care if the story is good.) Well, when they don't care if the story is good and they keep shelling it out into the world, then I'd say that's a problem. That's a big problem.

So what does this mean? That I have to write a generic story--one that is tasteless and pointless--in order to get that "best seller" sticker on the cover? I'm sorry, I can't do that.

I write my stories mainly for me, and, since I don't like generic stuff, I have to make sure that I put my personality into it (my weird, witty--sometimes construed as insane--personality.) I have to put my whole everything into my stories--heart, brains, voice, bone, blood, maybe even a liver or two.

If this means that I'll never get that "best seller" sticker, then so be it. In fact, I would rather not get it, if you don't mind. According to the world, "best seller" means generic. If having that sticker means that I will be thought of as a generic, faceless writer, then I'll gladly throw that sticker away. I don't want it, and I don't need it.

No offense to those writers who want that sticker, of course. If that's your goal, then all the luck to ya. It's just not for me, thank you.

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