What is the magic formula?

What draws a reader into a book? What gets them hooked? What keeps them hooked? What special formula takes a non-reader and gets them reading and keeps them reading?

Some authors have that special knack for writing compelling, interesting, devouring books. Some authors gain a following in the strangest of genres. Some seem to come out of nowhere and take the literary world by surprise. Some are just like old friends who you know no matter what will produce quality reading material.

The reading population is a fickle group. One day wizards are all the craze then the next it’s sparkling vampires. Then some mystery novel hits the market and all the previous are forgotten. Or is it just the media and marketing that pushes one book over the other and the sheep just follow where the candy leads?

“Write not what you know but what you love to read about.” A quote I hold dear to my heart. The thought is that you will put your passion into that which you love to read and hope someone else does too. That passion will drive not only the story but the emotions that readers love to feel.

But it’s not enough to write what you love and to write it well. Even in this day and age of instant self-publishing it’s not enough to have it “out there”. It needs a market. It needs promotion. It needs people to KNOW about it and tell others about it. It needs to get “out there”.

Some get lucky and break through to the masses that way. Many of us do not. It’s a surreal feeling to have your book online where anyone can see it and to see your name in print on the cover and know that THAT is YOUR work. But if only a handful of people ever look for it, if only a smaller handful buy it and love it, it doesn’t go very far.

So, what do people want? What do they expect?

Many books, conventions, trade shows, et al will give you what they say are the basics. Keep writing, they say. Keep putting yourself out there — you are your best marketing. Keep doing what you do. But sometimes that isn’t enough either.

Pretty much nothing can be written about that hasn’t in some form or fashion already been written about. So how do you make YOUR content special in an already saturated world of “been there, read that”?

I don’t think there’s an answer to that question. I think, more than anything, the two main things that get you “on top” is “it’s not what you know but WHO you know” and plain old-fashion LUCK.

That doesn’t mean we stop trying. It just means that we need to find those who can get things done WITH us and hopefully Lady Luck smiles in our direction at the most opportune time.

Writing as a passion is both exciting and exhausting. But if your heart is in it people will know. Just keep writing, writing, writing. Just keep writing…

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