If it’s not about the writing, then what is it about?

once upon a time

Because I have spent a lot of time in the presence of authors over the course of the last ten years or so, I am confident of what I am about to tell you.

It’s not about the writing.

Let me explain.

The woods are full of good writers.

I mean writers who have professional quality chops and work hard to constantly hone their craft. Many of them have been published by major houses, or have done the Indie thing, or both.

Most of them have had little, if any, financial success.

Next to the efforts of these hard-working, seasoned authors comes a fair to average book. It takes off and soars up the bestseller chart.

Why does that book succeed while other ones just as good or better languish in obscurity?

I can’t answer the question, but I can say a few indisputable things.

First:  It’s not about the writing. A poorly written book may sell like hotcakes.

Second: Universal themes.

Really the second point is something of an overstatement.  Bestselling books need not be about a whole raft of universal themes.

They can, and usually in today’s market, they do focus on one theme only.  The same theme dressed in slightly different clothes.

And what theme is that?

Love.

Imagine that.

Readers never tire of love.  It shouldn’t come as a surprise.  If there is anything humans can agree on it is that they love love.

The other side of the coin is also true when it comes to books. If a beautifully written book omits love as its central theme, no one will ever care deeply about it.

So if you are a writer, forget about addressing the perennial problems of human existence and spend your time delving deep into that one universal theme.

The one that makes the world go ’round.

Happy Valentine’s day.

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