Callie beat me to the punch, where does she find the time, but I can’t help myself. Right from the snarky title – How Not to Write a Best Seller – you probably, unlike myself when I started reading this article, intuit that you’re falling into a dirty craphole of pointless circular arguments stretched thin to fill column inches. How thin? Here’s Blum, paraphrased: Ferris got lots of critical praise, but his poorly named book didn’t make the NY Times bestseller list, wha’ happand, then:
It’s hardly fair to label
"Then We Came to the End" a failure. The book’s publisher, Little
Brown, says it has shipped 50,000 copies. It’s in its fourth printing,
and still selling well. That’s a goal rarely achieved by any writer,
let alone a debut novelist. Its smart yet realistic editor, Reagan Arthur,
accurately describes "Then We Came to the End" as "slow-developing but
genuine success." The book has already returned a profit for its
publisher, has been optioned by HBO Films (with Mr. Ferris attached to
write the script), and has come closer than most to hitting that
ever-shrinking bull’s eye of best-sellerdom.
Okay – so he makes his argument, and then torpedoes it completely. End of article. Point debunked. I’d be happy if my book made it into the hands of 1/5 that number of readers, likely the majority of them propelled by the excellent reviews it’s gotten. (I don’t have a book.) I’ve enjoyed a correspondence with Ferris, and I don’t get the impression he’s losing sleep over his novel not selling in the trillions. It’s accurately described as a success. HBO Films makes good films, no? Okay, so Blum has set himself up to deliver the knockout "there’s more to success then competing with Walmart-propelled megasales of John Grisham’s latest hooey" closer graf. Blum! Go!:
But no one could possibly call the novel a national sensation.
Um… as opposed to which novel, exactly? The Secret, while highly fictional, is not being sold per se as a novel. Okay, but Blum’s just setting us up for his stinging rebuke of irrationally inflated expectations, right? Go Blumy Go!:
Part of the problem may be
that bookstores don’t pay close enough attention to reviews. I went to
look for "Then We Came to the End" at the Lincoln Square Barnes & Noble the day after the Times review, and experienced the kind of scenario that leads authors into years of costly psychotherapy…
No one knew where to find it.
Three clerks and 10 minutes later, I’d bought one of the store’s last
three copies. At that moment it occurred to me: What if bookstores
created sections devoted to that week’s best-reviewed books? Or posted
positive reviews alongside the books themselves? That way, book reviews
(even those that appeared only online) would be easily accessible to
those most likely to buy books — people already browsing in the
bookstore. Right now, bookstores place all their marketing muscle
behind bestseller lists, meaning that prize positions get awarded to
those who’ve already won the horse race.
I’m going to bed.