I don’t know.
Couldn’t even begin to guess.
Scratching my head.
What do I know?
Well, don’t that beat all.
Too many adjectives?
I can only guess.
Obviously, with this list I’m being kind of a jerk.
But the point is, it’s hard to say when all things are equal—quality of writing, etc.—why one book can slide through the publishing process and find a large audience when an equally as compelling book can’t even get published or goes unnoticed. There are factors but at the end of the day I absolutely hated (hated) Eat Pray Love. The whole thing was phony, contrived, and narcissistic. And yet, many hundreds of thousands of people loved it and found something in it they couldn’t find anywhere else.
Meanwhile, The Orchard by Adele Crockett Robertson—a stunningly beautiful and meaningful memoir—is virtually unheard of. Why? Couldn’t tell you*. But I would say to anyone: GO READ THE ORCHARD. It truly is an incredible book of beauty that offers more true lessons (and more true sentences) in one paragraph than that other book musters in its entirety.
But what does any of these mean to writers?
Write for love and beauty, write for your reader, and do your best. The business of writing is tough and fickle so love the process.
*Obviously, the publisher for Eat Pray Love wanted to make back their advance—which paid for the author to go on her (hokey and completely inauthentic) trip—so they put a lot of marketing resources behind it whereas the author of The Orchard (actually her daughter) probably didn’t get the same level of backing. So I could ask, why would a publisher pay an author to go on a hokey year-long journey of discovery and then spend on a big marketing push for one book, but not do the same for an incredibly beautiful (and non-hokey narrative journey) book? I have no idea, but it’s a shame.