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Tuesday, August 05, 2008

The Big Leagues

Last week, teens everywhere (and a lot of adults) were howling over the imminent release of the newest Stephanie Meyer book, Breaking Dawn. As numerous stories of her path from suburban stay-at-home-mom to bazillionaire author deluged every media outlet, I thought about making it big in publishing. Really, really big. What would that be like? Could I imagine being one of the few in the Big Leagues? Uh, yeah!

When I finished drooling over the imaginary shopping list to spend my bazillions, I wondered what it would take to make my imaginary dream a reality. Is it possible to craft a story that will sell to everyone based on what you know of popular culture? Is there a way to create universal appeal? What makes us latch on to characters, never to let go and forever to sing their praises at book clubs, dinner parties and casual grocery store conversations?

Unfortunately, there isn't a 'bestseller checklist', dang it all. You can use the Hero's Journey templates, write complex and endearing characters, study the trends and predictions, and try to imitate those Big League Authors. But even if you do all those things you could still be a mid-list author, or even an undiscovered one. The only thing you CAN do is tell your story, the best way you can. Will it be great? Will it intrigue an agent and publisher to take a chance and publish it? It's a crap shoot. But when you are true to the story in you, which is what most of the members of the Big League did to get there, I have to believe that good things will come your way.

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