Before writing the book, Maass made a systematic study of the novels that made the NYT bestseller list, wishing to identify what it was about a novel that made it outstandingly popular. I’m not attempting to be a Danielle Steels or Stephenie Meyer, but I do appreciate insights into what makes a story compulsively addictive. I like when a book has me deeply hooked: I love it … and that’s what I’m after.
Two things stood out in this particular interview for me:
One, that a compelling main character should be deeply conflicted right from the start: he or she must want two things that cannot co-exist.
The other thing he had to say that gave me thought was not so much about writing as about promotion: his belief that promotion and publicity isn’t what sells a book, that what sells a book is the book itself. I’d like to believe that, but I’m not convinced. I don’t think it’s an accident that the Josephine B. Trilogy sold very well in the countries that invested a great deal in promotion (and conversely).
My third favorite I used to listen to on the CBC every Sunday afternoon at 3:00, usually as I made soup. My life is not so easily patterned these days, and so I appreciate the freedom of being able to listen to Eleanor Wachtel‘s Writers & Company whenever I please.