What makes a book sell? It’s the eternal question. Why are some books overlooked while others sell by the bucketload. Critics sniff at the popularity of pulp thrillers and chicklit and wonder why the Booker nominee only sells a couple of thousand copies.
To me, it’s simple. For writing to sell, it has to crackle.
Books that crackle have energy. They have passion. They’re exciting to read. They suck you into their world and they won’t let you go until you put the book down. Depending on what sort of reader you are, you’ll either gulp them down like summer cocktails or deliberately slow down, savouring every word. When you finish, you feel bereft.
How do you know if a book crackles?
In books that crackle, the characters leap off the page. You can see them and hear them; they feel real to you. And you’re cheering them on all the way.
It’s a myth that books need a string of exciting events to crackle. There are some books where nothing happens on the surface, but the interaction between the characters is so intense that you can practically hear the crackle. There are also writers who simply know how to spin a good yarn – a lost art in this age of genre fiction.
Books that crackle are set in a world that’s believable to the reader, even if it’s a fantasy world. They describe that world so vividly that the reader can feel as if they’ve left their own world. The writers of these books know how to call on the five senses to make their world real.
Books that crackle don’t waste words. Every word has a purpose; every word fits perfectly with what the writer aims to describe. Books that crackle tend to have a lot of dialogue, because dialogue moves a story forward. With good dialogue, it feels as if the characters are speaking to you.
Only time will tell whether my own book, The Pink Cage, is a crackler. It’ll be up to you to judge. But that’s certainly my goal as a writer. Without it, books fall flat, no matter how well written they are.
What makes a book crackle for you?