Book publishing is an old and complex industry. It is both timeless and on-trend. I have been contacted this week by a few publishers looking for ‘new books that speak to the new climate’. They want books that can come out fast and that help people to navigate or find a new way (after lockdown).
Publishers do love to move fast and capture the zeitgeist. They are all looking for the wildfire book that sells 100,000 copies in a few months and pays all the bills.
But, truly, deeply, most publishers are looking for books that can sit on a shelf for many years. They want timeless over trendy. Or at least they want a good mix in their imprint.
They want books that sell and sell and sell. Big sales accrue over time. Look at the '20 bestselling books ever' list below. Some of these books have been selling for hundreds of years – and they still sell.
A book wouldn't be very readable if everything went your hero’s way would it? Imagine a romance where the hero and romantic interest met and BOOM fall in love. It would be short read and not a very good one. It is seldom anyone wants to read about a character who wins, and easily. Particularly if that character is you. Desperate struggles, fights, bad decisions, disagreeable people, wrong turns, red herrings, darn bad luck and thwarted desire. This is the domain of story. Happy times? Hmmmm keep that for the family album.
But how do you plan this in your writing? Doesn’t it just happen? Hell no. You make sure it happens and that is called plotting.
Readers want to live and breathe your characters in a novel. They want to walk in your shoes in a memoir. But how do you make your characters become living, breathing people? Even if they only live on the page? Here are some tricks.