Discussion: What Really Makes a Book Popular? // merit, hype, etc.

Please note that all opinions and observations are my own and are not necessarily fact!

With this discussion, my hope is that we can address several factors! In this post, I’ll be covering five—merit, trend, hype, author, and originality.

I’ve decided to stage a conversation of sorts between two different perspectives—we’ll call them Andrew and Brianna—to make the discussion more interesting!

Meet the Players

Andrew

Andrew enjoys “sweet tea in the summer”, and if you couldn’t tell, the song “seven” by Taylor Swift.

Brianna

According to Brianna, “I don’t know how it (this discussion we’re about to embark on!) gets better than this”. And yes, she did use a lyric from Fearless (Taylor’s Version).

Merit

Andrew: Of course, if a book is good—with interesting characters, immersive world, nice plot—then it should be popular! Right?

Brianna: Well…things aren’t so black and white. Plenty of good books go unnoticed or are “underrated”… plus “good” is highly subjective!

Andrew: Okay. What about a book that is objectively good?

Brianna: Hmm…but who measures objectively? Is it us, the readers? Or another factor?

Andrew scratches his head and adjusts his microphone.

Andrew: Hey…what about time?

Brianna:

Andrew: Yeah! If a book…er…continues to prove relevant to different generations, it might be considered objectively good?

Brianna: I see what you’re saying! Like the classics! They are always in classrooms, and on recommendation lists. We grow up reading them, and we keep on seeing them, so they really are popular.

Andrew: Exactly 😀 What’s your favorite classic, Bri?

Brianna: Oh, you know. Pride and Prejudice. Anne of Green Gables.

Andrew: I remember enjoying The Count of Monte Cristo and The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde!

Brianna: I haven’t read Jekyll and Hyde but I’ve heard great things about it!

Andrew: Oh, it’s excellent! All I’m going to say is…salt.

Brianna blinks twice.

Brianna: Okay?

Andrew rubs his hands together gleefully.

Andrew: You’ll see.

Trend

Brianna: Well, it’s obvious that if there is this…hunger for a specific trope, a book that meets it will become popular.

Andrew: Yeah! Especially if it’s the “first”, at least, in recent times, to jumpstart the trend again. Look at what happened with dystopias and paranormal romances.

Brianna chuckles, shaking her head.

Brianna: What a time that was!

Hype

Andrew: There are so many platforms to share your love of books these days! BookTube, Bookstagram, and of course, book blogging. If you see many people recommending the same books, you’ll be bound to check them out!

Brianna: Yep! Like Six of Crows. Oh—I remember seeing Spin the Dawn around a lot last year.

Andrew: Bri, how do you think people start sharing the same books?

Brianna: Well, some just want to hop on the trend, see what the hype’s about. I think if a few really popular BookTubers, Bookstagrammers, or book bloggers wrote favorable reviews for a book, then that book could rapidly gain more attention.

Andrew: Also…if people are already curious about a title or two. Like a successful debut author releasing their sophomore book.

Brianna: I can see that! Actually, you bring up a great point Andy…the authors themselves can garner popularity!

Author

Brianna: Do you think authors can attract a large fanbase based on the merits of their book, their marketing strategies, or their active social pages?

Andrew: Honestly, I think it’s all of them. If they’re a first time author, maybe they have to rely more on a really attractive synopsis, and be able to show what makes their book different through social media. But for an author with more than one book, maybe they’ve already kind of established their niche and a certain kind of following, so it becomes easier for them to be known and for readers to “comp” their work with more popular ones.

Brianna: Yeah! Never underestimate the power of a good comp. I find “x meets y” or “z set in y” or “for fans of A and B” can be really convincing selling points for a reader.

Originality

Andrew: I think it’s cool if a book can be really different and unique without answering to some kind of trend, demand, or pressure, you know? The author’s strengths and voice are established just like that!

Brianna: For sure! Then they get labeled as “one to look out for”.

Andrew: How do you think we can achieve originality, Bri?

Brianna: I think some authors do it by putting their own, fresh take on a well-trodden path. Some do it by combining really compelling tropes. But it seems like most draw on inspiration from their own life, what they authentically want to write, and what they want to read.

Andrew: Well said! Readers, thank you for sticking with us. Because “originality” was the last point we wanted to discuss, we have now reached the end of our discussion! The show is over now, but we hope you had as much fun as we did.

Whew, that was a lot!

I hope you enjoyed reading this post! I was genuinely so excited to experiment with the writing style and deliver my thoughts through Andrew and Brianna.

Speaking of the two, please give a round of applause for them! 😛

In the comments, let me know what YOU think makes a book popular, or what you think should be the standard for measuring a book’s popularity. Thank you so much for reading…

7 Comments

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s