January 8, 2010

Bestseller Readers Habits

From Macro.org:

A lot of the people who read a bestselling novel, for example, do not read much other fiction. By contrast, the audience for an obscure novel is largely composed of people who read a lot. That means the least popular books are judged by people who have the highest standards, while the most popular are judged by people who literally do not know any better. An American who read just one book this year was disproportionately likely to have read ‘The Lost Symbol’, by Dan Brown. He almost certainly liked it.

What is very true of published authors is this: Not all published books are good, and not all good books are highly recognized. If the person that backs you up is highly recognizable and has tremendous pull then your books will most likely hit high in ratings. This review pretty much sums up how I felt about the bestseller Wings by Aprilynne Pike. Although I don't have an MFA and I did not go into the book deciding to despise it. I went into reading the book hoping to love it. When authors recommend books, and if these are authors I like, I'll more then likely want to read their recommendations.

First off Wings is not YA. Wings more then hits the Middle Grade much better. The way the story is written, the morals implicated, the whole way that the trolls were handled as cookie cutter villains made me think over and over again "After School Special". Just because Laurel is in high school, and, I'm guessing, once Stephenie Meyer was willing to give a blurb, the publishers knew they could push this book into YA territory. Because of Twilight the publishers knew that this book would appeal to teens. Thankfully I wasn't on the 2008 Cybils panel because I would have pushed for the book to be moved to MG because that is how strongly I feel that this book is being marketed to the wrong group of readers. Still, like I said, Stephenie Meyer gave the book a blurb so in marketing that equals YA.

This book was so heavily publicized that in it's first week in print it hit the bestseller list. The bestseller list doesn't mean that the book is just that great. The bestseller list just means that it sold the most copies. I wonder how this book would have done if it hadn't received the kind of publicity it did. I wonder just how much people would have liked this book if Stephenie Meyer hadn't been the one endorsing it. This is also true for bestsellers, because people like to know what to do. Librarians love knowing what will possibly appeal to their readers, and as much as we'd love to we can't read all the books.

But be aware guys, lists are just a starting point. Avid readers are avid because they want to gobble up books, and the only way to find books that you might like is to do a little research on what is out there in your range of interest. Every fantasy book out there is being compared to Twilight because that is what is selling! Book sellers want to sell books, and marketing a book plays heavily into how appealing a book may be.

I'm not trying to disparage Aprilynne Pike. If my hypothetical debut book sold this well I would be just as thrilled and happy as she is, because everyone wants to make a living off their writing. Everyone. I'm happy that she hit the market running. Let's just hope that she continues to find this kind of appeal in her next three books in this series.


Book pusher said...

Sami that was a great post. I have to admit to some frustration with people who read one or two books a year trying to tell me what is and isn't worth while, I have even had to justify library purchases, because no one else has heard of the title, not a high publicity title.
Kids will learn discernment from such books and author reccomendations will not carry much weight with them. Thanks for highlighting how much effort goes into selecting books, like you said we can't read everything but we try to read a lot of what's out there and if we are not reading books we are reading review journals and now I also read a lot of blogs to get a feel for the merits of a book and it's market.
Loved the videos in your previous post to.

J said...

I agree very much with this post.

Re: "The bestseller list just means that it sold the most copies."

In reality, the only way to get on the NYT bestseller list is if you're on the list to watch. (There is a printed list.) If your book isn't on that list, you could outsell the listed books, and your book wouldn't get on the bestseller list because it wasn't tracked by the stores who report to the NYT list. Every year, a lot of books sell more than the titles on the list, but you never see them there.

Strange, eh?

Sami said...

J: Thank you so much for the information about best seller lists. That was really interesting.

Book pusher: You're welcome! The toughest part of my job is when I recommend a book. This is probably why I don't give ratings and try my best to say what I did and didn't like about a book. I have different tastes from everyone else and we don't always love the same stuff. So you're right using blogs and reviews are really helpful ways of finding new books. :)

Mary (The Sweet Bookshelf) said...

I DISAGREE. Heavily.

On the back of Wings and Spells it clearly states for the ages 11+ which is Middle Grade (8-12).

Stephenie Meyer has a blurb yes. She and Aprilynne grew up together and went to the same church. They share the same agent.

I think the book is so great! Everyone I've passed it on to has loved it just as much. Saying it is a best seller because of marketing is rubbish. To a point. The most publicity a book gets is from its readers, not from a list.

Stephenie Meyers has blurbs on MANY books. Some do well, some do not.

"A lot of the people who read a bestselling novel, for example, do not read much other fiction." This is just an ignorant statement. I don't even NEED to comment more.

Everyone is entitled to their opinions though.

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