I remember only a little over a year ago when I used to think that because books made the NYT, USA Today, or whatever major bestseller’s lists, they’re automatically the best quality books out there. In my defense, it made sense. Quality = Popularity, right?
I mean, this should be true, but most of the time, it isn’t. It’s often the most heavily marketed books that make those bestseller’s lists, not necessarily the best written ones. How do publishers decide which book is best to market? No, not quality, but commerciality. I’ll admit, sometimes commerciality includes quality, sometimes it doesn’t. Unfortunately, it’s not as much of a factor as it should be. No, I’m not saying that all books on the NYT bestseller’s list are bad—I’m not even saying that any of them are bad—but I am saying that these books are not necessarily best. While some of the books on the top of the major lists are, in fact, the best out there, others (like a Fifty Shades of Grey) just… aren’t.
I hear that Twilight was very well hyped pre-release. It got that big marketing pushing that I’m sure a ton of much more deserving books did not get. And now some people think Twilight is one of the best books ever written. I don’t really want to call it a bad book because I haven’t read more than a sample on Amazon, but it clearly isn’t the best book ever written. You know those guilty pleasure TV shows/movies that aren’t necessarily well scripted or acted, but are addictive nonetheless? Yeah, those? This is Twilight. This is what I mean by “meh” books. Obviously a ton of people are enjoying it, and I have no problem with that, but in the end, it just isn’t a quality book. It doesn’t have any depth, doesn’t create unique characters, concepts, or plots. Sure, it’s fun, it’s addictive, but it’s not that well done.
And I think that’s where my problem is. While there are some super amazing books on the NYT bestseller’s lists, there are just as many “meh” books that got a ton of hype from their publishers that are dominating the charts. But more than that, since people haven’t heard of Other Super-Amazing Book, they think these “meh” book is the best ever written. It’s a little sad, I guess.
I like how Kiersten White, NYT bestselling author of the Paranormalcy trilogy, talks about becoming a bestseller. I can say that her books are the type that are certainly of the spotlight they received, but as she says: “It’s a little touchy of a subject to address, because the whole system is a bit…well, let’s just say some books hit when other equally (or more) deserving books don’t, and no one is ever quite sure why. So, please know that I am not trying to brag. Many books I consider superior to mine do not have the distinction of being official bestsellers.”
But what she hit upon here is, for me, the underlying theme of this industry: It’s all luck. Bad books make the bestseller’s lists all the time. Great books are so often undervalued. I read books that are insanely popular today and sure, they’re good, but they aren’t as well done as “X” book that no one has ever heard of, or “Y” book that was never even published. It’s luck, guys. This industry is based on so much luck. I should caps lock it: IT IS ABOUT LUCK. I shouldn’t complain about luck, but, knowing me, I will anyway. It just isn’t fair that a “meh” book makes the top of the bestseller’s lists, while a clearly better book has next to no one reading it. But the thing is, that’s how it works. That’s life. We just have to deal with it.
I think that’s why I love success stories so much. They defy the odds of marketing and let quality lead the way, and it makes me smile. It does. I’m so thankful for those books that restore my faith in the publishing industry, and I guess that’s why I like to highlight them here.
So that’s all I have for today. The above may very well be entirely incoherent and babbly, so keep in mind that this was written late at night, since I just remembered that I still have a blog. Crazy how that happens, right? For those of you who follow me, I have a pretty awesome blogaversary planned for you guys. I’ll make an announcement in about week, so stay tuned on that. Also, yes. There are ARCs in the mix, along with a ton more.
Also x3: I may have been (accidentally) neglecting you guys, but just remember that if you’re reading this, you’re awesome. Really, you so are.