Because I am an author with two books in print and two in progress, I frequently wonder what factors contribute to a book’s popularity with the general public. While I would like to believe that it’s the quality of writing and masterful choices of words, I’m beginning to believe that these are the exception rather than the rule.
If you are Stephen King or John Grisham, you will automatically sell millions of books to your loyal followers. I remind myself occasionally that King’s first book was rejected by many publishers before it was finally accepted. Most likely, readers of books such as these appreciate the styles, subject matter, and genres of the authors they buy.
But what about the rest of the reading population, other than the groupies? In many cases, it’s strictly subject matter that drives book purchases. Sometimes the subjects are self-help or fitness. In others, it’s mysteries. Others may prefer historical fiction or biographies. For as many readers as there are, we have that many preferences.
With that established, I hurry to mention that my books were not written with the goal of commercial success. If you wonder why that’s true, either you don’t know me or you are unfamiliar with my work and I can explain it here.
Someone whom I love and respect pointed out that fewer than 1% of authors attain recognition, commercial success, or best seller status. The true purpose of writing can and must be the cathartic process of filling empty screens with words and characters. Doing so becomes the act of sharing a message of some sort with those willing to receive it.
It makes sense that well-known authors probably have similar objectives. Monetary gain may play into the decisions to publish more books. Again, it will depend on the author and his or her financial status and goals.
As always, I can speak only for myself. If any of my books became best sellers, I suspect that I would be happy. Because of my motives to educate and inform, I would be gratified that many chose to read my words. More importantly, I would be fulfilled that numerous readers were either interested in learning the lessons of my life or the realities of the Holocaust.
To return to my initial premise, there is no accurate single reason why people select and read books. At least three more are in my plans and I hope with all of my being that I will have the wisdom and divine guidance to complete them.
My most critical message is to continue reading and learning. As Hillel (renowned Jewish religious leader and scholar) once said, “That which is despicable to you, do not do to your fellow, this is the whole Torah and the rest is commentary, go and learn it.” Shalom.