Saturday, June 07, 2008

Why are some books more popular than others?

What makes one book more popular than another? Is it the characters? The plot? Marketing?

Whenever an author has a new release they never know how it's going to be received by readers. You hold your breath and hope for the best, but you never know.

One upon a time, I had an idea that I wanted to write a ménage a trois. At the same time I had a female character in my head. She was a full-sized gal who lived alone in a large city, working Monday to Friday. She had no family. No real ties to where she lived.

The two things came together the day I stumbled across a book of Medieval Tapestries. As I flipped the pages, admiring the sheer artistry of the tapestries, a thought occured to me: What if one of the tapestries was magic? What if it had the ability to take a person to an alternate world?

It made me ponder what would happen if the female character, Christina, stumbled across this magical tapestry. What if it took her to a world where women were scarce and the men there would do everything in their power to keep here there? What if she only had three days to decide?

Well, that idea became the basis for Christina’s Tapestry. It was a little book that wrote itself in a little less than a month. It was going to be a stand-alone book. Just a little story.

Boy, was I wrong!

Readers loved it! And I couldn't stop thinking about the Bakra brothers, who I introduced in Christina's Tapestry.

For whatever reason, this book resonated with Readers. It won a Golden Rose Award for Time Travel books and is my best selling book to date. I've added two more books to the series since and book four is on the way. I can't seem to leave this world alone.

I've written other ménage a trois books, including Three Swords, One Heart. I absolutely love this book. It's action and adventure and a kick-ass heroine. While it's sold well, it hasn't come anywhere near the popularity of Christina's Tapestry and I have no idea why.

I guess some books just resonate better with readers.

If you like ménage a trois books, check out Amethyst Moon, my latest Ellora's Cave release, Three Swords, One Heart, or any of the books in the Tapestries series.


Charlene said...

I have not yet read Amethyst Moon. What's wrong with me? *off to find ereader* And btw, I can tell you why the Tapestry is so popular. But it may cost you an early read of #4...*ggg*

N.J.Walters said...

LOL I may have to take you up on that offer.

Hope you enjoy Amethsyt Moon. :-)

Tarot By Arwen said...

For me, if a book hits something... a feeling/emotion... that I am currently experiencing, I will enjoy it more and look for more by that author. Not sure if that is a good explanation. LOL

Greta said...

Hi N.J. I have one of your books that it's my TBR pile Katie's Art of Seduction. In fact I have been informed by Jaci Burton, Fatin (mad romance reader at heart), Jambrea and other that you are definate must read.

But for me why books are more popular then others is a combination of things - knowledge of the author, the cover (I'm big on covers) it has to draw me in, depth I have to feel the characters and the emotions & feelings the author is trying to bring to light. Does that make sense?

Anny Cook said...

I also have several series, yet one in particular just keeps selling. I think it has more to do with the satisfying ending than anything else.

Readers will write that they loved the books--especially the ending.

A fellow writer I know has a book that everyone raves about the ending, also. Personally, I think readers will even overlook slight flaws in books if they are satisfied with the ending.

That isn't to say that I would want to be careless and allow flaws in the writing, but all things being equal, I think that's what the final decision is based on.

I know that more than one book I've read was GOOD until I reached the final page. What the author did on that final page made it GREAT.

Just my thoughts on this.

mamasand2 said...

Tough question NJ! If by 'Popular' you mean how many sold, that is a different thing from how much the book is enjoyed and what gives it great reviews. Selling it is a promo issue and I'm going to address what makes me enjoy a book.
First it has to be in a genre I enjoy (thats about 80% of them). Then it has the have strong, interesting characters and depth to the story. I am burned out on the fluff. And no I haven't seen you write any fluff. I like to see some kind of drama and some HEAT between the 2 or 3 lead characters. And it MUST have a HEA!!!
A cover may catch my eye but I buy because of the blurbs and excerpts. Or because it is an author I like.

Sandie * hoping I wasn't too long winded *

N.J.Walters said...

That makes perfect sense, Arwen. Any book we have an emotional connection with will be one we remember.

N.J.Walters said...

I hope you enjoy Katie's Art of Seduction. And thank you to Jaci, Fatim, Jambrea, and the others for the wonderful recommendation.

Covers are a big drawing point. I'm the same. If I don't like a cover, I'm less likely to read the blurb of a book. I think most of us are visual in that way.

Emotional connection and how we relate to the characters is a big factor too. If I can't connect to the female character on some level, I'm not likely to remember the book at all. If the book pulls at my heartstrings, I'm likely to read it more than once.

N.J.Walters said...

Great insights, Anny. I think you're absolutely right. How a book ends has a lot to do with how much a reader enjoys it.

I know of one popular author who received a lot of criticism about her last book in a series because the ending left readers feeling less than satisfied. It happens sometimes, especially if a writer is trying to step outside the box and challenge themselves. It's great when it works, not so much when it doesn't. Of course, you can't please all the readers all the time. :-)

N.J.Walters said...

Hey, Sandie. By popular I meant those books that we go back to again and again, and rave to our friends about. The books that grows sales due more to word-of-mouth than promotion.

Genre is important to a lot of readers. We all have our preferences. I'm as guilty as everyone else. LOL

I think it always seems to come back to characters and how well we connect to them. I know I've read books where I just couldn't like the hero. I love a "bad boy" hero, but sometimes a line gets crossed and no matter what he does, he can't redeem himself in my eyes. Yes, I love character growth, but some things just can't be undone or forgotten.

Covers are a big factor. I honestly think that's what happened to Three Swords, One Heart. I've gotten a lot of negative comments about it where readers point out that there are four swords, not three.

Thankfully, a lot of readers have enjoyed the blurb enough to try the book. I've gotten a lot of positive feedback on the heroine and the story as a whole.

Kathy said...

I haven't read Three Swords yet. It's on my too be bought list. Tight budget means I only buy one or two ebooks a month and I have a huge list of what I want.:-) But I have read the whole Tapestry series and Amethyst Moon and I loved them. The stories have to be just that, stories. I read one author whom I won't name whose main character in every line was saying I wanna F...k this, I wanna be F...ked and so on. At it wasn't classified as porn, it was listed as modern romance. Go figure.

candy said...

Hey NJ,

Why do I like one book more than another? The characters! Some characters just grab you and won't let you go. And if the author has provide glimpes of secondary characters that worm their way into your heart than that author has the makings of a series.

In your Tapestry series is was your character Marc. That man just jumped in and took hold my heart. Now I anxiously await to someday read his story, as do a number of your other readers.


Heather Hiestand said...

I wish I knew the answer to this question. I also have one story that's massively more popular than any of my other stories. Reviews for it were the same as my other books, yet it sells and sells. Someday a reader is going to have to explain it to me...

N.J.Walters said...

I'm so glad you've enjoyed the Tapestries series and Amethyst Moon!

Budget is a big factor, Kathy. I know I don't buy as many books as I used to. Of course, now that I'm writing I don't have as much time to read. :-)

I think it always comes back to story. The story and characters always have to be relatable.

N.J.Walters said...

I've had more email from readers about Marc than any other character. His book is coming. It's contracted, but doesn't have a release date yet.

It's all aobut characters. For me, that's where the writing process begins. I find my characters endless fascinating.

Thank you, Candy. I'm glad you love Marc as much as I do. :-)

N.J.Walters said...

It's always hard to place your finger on why one book is more popular than another, Heather.

I think, in the end, it comes down to character. There is something about the character and the situation they're in that readers can relate to.

It's a wonderful feeling to have a book that touches readers on such a deep level.

Ashlyn Chase said...


I'm baffled by the attention one book gets vs. another too.

Demolishing Mr. Perfect is what I call, "the little novella that could." It sold more than everything but Vampire Vintage (a full novel plus) and continues to sell.

Perhaps word of mouth? Perhaps the title? Maybe I'll have to write sequels like, Mashing Mr. Perfect about a chef, Poisoning Mr. Perfect about a chemist or, I don't know...


Jennifer A. Ray said...

I love the Tapestry books! The stories are fun and sexy, but what made them really memorable for me was that horseback scene... LOL

N.J.Walters said...

"the little novella that could"

LOL I like that, Ash. I have a Quickie like that too...Unmasking Kelly. It continues to sell well. I've got other Quickies that are just as wonderful--Anastasia's Style and Drakons' Treasure for two--but no other Quickie outsells Kelly.

It's impossible to say why some books do so much better than others. I'm just glad they do. :-)

Love the title--Mashing Mr. Perfect!

N.J.Walters said...

Thank you so much, Jennifer. The horseback scene was fun to write. *g*

Nicole Austin said...

We are so glad that little book and new world wouldn't leave you alone, NJ! For me, I love time travel, and the depth of emotion in the Tapestry series. I can't wait for book 4 to release so I can make another trip back there.

Kathy said...

I too am looking forward to Marc's story. But, I have to admit, the one story of the three that touched me the most was book 3 and especially Genny. Having come from and gotten away from that type of situation I can't help but cheer for Genny. In fact, I think that's what makes some stories resonate more than others with certain readers. Because we can relate in some way to what's going on.