Why do some books sell and others not?

If we all knew before we wrote and published a book if it would sell, we would know which themes to persue. The truth is, we don’t have a crystal ball that magically tells us these factors in advance. The fact is, this is determined by a variety of things.

First, as I have stated numerous times, no book sells itself. If a book is not on a topic that people are interested in reading, it won’t sell. If it is not well-promoted, it won’t sell. If it is not attractive or doesn’t appear interesting or informative, it won’t sell. It’s much easier to say what won’t sell than what will. Still, even the most seasoned writer sometimes has books that do not make it.  I have examined my better-selling books and they have some common denominators. It isn’t because I wrote them. The common threads are: they are well-written and researched; they are true; they are interesting, they are attractively presented and they are promoted.

Let’s take Conspiracy in the Town that Time Forgot, for instance. It was co-written by the person featured in it–Ron Cunningham. It was a true story which catches people’s attention and keeps them turning the pages. We still have book signings and sell a good number of them after almost three years.

Then there’s On the Origin of the Cliches and Evolution of Idioms. It has a catchy title, is humorously presented, is based on tons of research, and has a dynamite cover. Then it has been promoted online. It was the # 3 best selIing cliche origin dictionary in November and December last year on Amazon. I am still amazed at how many sell in both paperback and ebook format.

So in thinking about what books to write–or even read, consider these things.


Tales of Two Gails – amazing X 2

I’ve done it numerous times. As an author participating in a book signing at a library or museum with other authors it is common practice to exchange books with another author. But I wasn’t quite prepared for for what happened at the historical museum in Franklin, NC this past Saturday.

I met two delightful ladies, both named Gail, and exchanged a copy of my childhood memoirs, Beyond the Thistle Patch, for one of their collaboration, Tales of Two Gails. I learned that we all three had grown up in Macon County, NC, and,  I had attended a year of school with each of them, though they were both younger.   .

I brought the book home and began reading–wow! I could hardly put it down. Tales of Two Gales is a heart-wrenching story of the lifelong friendship of two girls from rural Appalachia who grew up under dire circumstances, not only lacking in many necessities, but with grossly trying family situations. In spite of all odds, the loving nurturing of grandparents and their faith and love for one another carried them both through to successful marriages and careers. This amazing true story consists of a series of short stories which, when combined, is both connected and engrossing. When I completed the book in less than a week it left me with a warm feeling, but with an empty spot in my heart wishing I had more to consume. This is a must read for anyone who feels that they faced trials growing up.

Tales of Two Gales is by Gail Shepherd Diederich, now a writer for the St. Petersburg Times, and Gail Kelly Lester, who presently serves as Executive Assistant to the senior pastors of Church in the City in Rowlett, Texas. It is available on their website at www.talesoftwogails.com or at Amazon.com.

Indian giver

Have you ever wondered where phrases came from? I have, as mentioned in earlier posts, been researching and recording this information for the past two years and have published two books on my findings. But sometime in 2013 I plan to publish a definitive work from this indepth research. One recent listing for the new book hit me as something many might want to know now, so I’m using it in today’s post. It’s ‘Indian giver.’ Here’s what I learned:

Indian giver

The figurative definition is a person who gives something then takes it back. The term evolved from ‘Indian gift’ which was first coined by Massachusetts Loyalist politician, Thomas Hutchinson, in 1765 during American colonization when Natives gave gifts to the white Europeans in anticipation of receiving a gift in return.

In 1848 historian and linguist John Russell Bartlett published his Dictionary of Americanisms which first cited the phrase ‘Indian giver’:

“INDIAN GIVER. When an Indian gives anything, he expects an equivalent in return, or that the same thing may be given back to him. This term is applied by children in New York and the vicinity to a child who, after having given away a thing, wishes to have it back again.”

Note the figurative application already existed by 1848. It is likely that some Europeans accepted gifts from Natives who expected something in trade, and when nothing was received, demanded the return of the gift. 

But many hundred other cliches, idioms, and catch phrases are in my first two volumes: On the Origin of the Cliches and Evolution of Idioms, and On the Origin of the Cliches. All New Book II. Hope you get them either in paperback or on Kindle ebook format.

Book signing a big success

It was such a great pleasure spending the day Saturday at the Historical Society in Franklin, NC with my good friend and co-author, Ron Cunningham and seeing some old friends and meeting new ones. The weather couldn’t have been more cooperative and the folks at the museum were such a joy to work with. I found that one of my high school teachers, Clayton Ramsey, was recieving an award that very day.

While there I saw some ladies with whom I went to school who are now also authors, Gail Shepherd Deitrich and Gail Kelly Lester. I have begun reading their delightful book, Tales of Two Gails and am finding that so many of our experiences as youth were parallel. After I finish I will be doing a review for my blog. It is available at their web site www.talesoftwogails.com . I already know that I can highly recommend it.

Also, after the signing, we went to Mason Mountain Ruby Mine, and I was delighted to meet a young lady that is looking forward to working with her husband to write the story of their family’s ownership and management of the mine over the past several generations. I’m looking forward to that as well.

Beyond the Thistle Patch

Yesterday I arrived early for an appointment with my family doctor. It was drizzling rain–something badly needed because of our drought. I didn’t want to go in that early so I searched the car for something to read and came accross a proof copy of Beyond the Thistle Patch, the autobiographal memoirs of my youth. I was thinking about my upcoming book signing in the town where those adventures unfolded so many years ago as I flipped through its pages. My gaze lit on chapter 15 and I read to myself these words:

One crisp day that fall I got my 410 shotgun out which I had bought that summer, and with Scampy, headed for the woods. What a sharp little gun it was, with a highly polished knotty-maple stock and a soft plastic carrying case!

Rover was growing very old, and he and Dixie didn’t offer to come along that day. I walked through the old hog lot and lingered under the big weeping willow tree before climbing across the slumping hog-wire fence and strolling through the stubble field which remained from harvesting the corn crop. Daddy needed less now that the hogs no longer occupied their crumbling domain. Somehow it seemed lonely without them. A goat brushed my leg and stared up at me, letting out a pitiful bleat. The goats were being allowed to devour the remaining stalks which now had little other usefulness. As I ambled onward, the memories of my childhood glory days flooded my mind. For the first time in years I recalled that day so many years ago when I wandered far away and discovered the mystifying field with the thistles and the rambling rock wall. Why had this been blocked from my memory for all of these years? I must have gone near there while out with my cousins. Come to think of it, we usually hunted on the other side of the road, up past the site of Vinsonville, I reasoned. Just when we found the cave and the forest fire started, were we over this way, and then we turned right and went more north!

It had been too long. I couldn’t remember the way I had gone to that wondrous spot, but I knew that now that I had thought of it, I would somehow find it once again. A crow let out a startled caw and flew rapidly from a white pine to my right. Something looks strangely familiar about that pine! I shook my head. A white pine is a white pine, right? Wait! The trunk forked about half way up, forming two distinct new equal trunks! Yes! It seemed that the crow was speaking to me, “Caw! Remember this tree?” I thought of Poe’s prolific classic poem, “The Raven” producing in my mind a nostalgic sense of wonder, and on my arms, a startling cascade of chill bumps. At that point it seemed that I was guided by an inner power, leading me onward toward my goal. New markers appeared. Within fifteen short minutes the sun again revealed the opening I had seen as a child! Déjà vu! There was the site of the mystical thistle patch. No blossoms were present, of course, since the season of their dwelling was half a year away. The old rock wall seemed somehow not as prodigious as it did the last time I had stood in this spot. Nonetheless, I knew that I had found it!

For a few brief moments I merely stood there, as if hypnotized by the renewal of a feeling so long missing in my life. What was it about this spot that intrigued me as it did? Was it the fact that it had loomed so beautifully before me at a special time in my life, or the idea that it had been forbidden? Then, slowly I strolled around the wall and noticed a dull bit of metal burrowed beneath the soil. Reaching down, I scratched it loose and saw that it was an Indian-head penny dated 1898! Could it have been dropped by the Shopes as they crossed the mountain on their wedding night? Pushing anxiously forward, I picked up a distinctive arrowhead.

End excerpt.

If this makes you want to read further you may do so by ordering your copy at http://stclairpublications.com/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=1_4&products_id=37

or on Amazon at http://www.amazon.com/Beyond-Thistle-Patch-Stanley-Clair/dp/1935786032 

Good reading