How Does A Book Become A Bestseller? Readers’ Mailbag April 21, 2017

In this week’s Mailbag I deal with a question about how a book written for a popular audience becomes a bestseller, specifically with regard to Misquoting Jesus, my book that has sold the best of all by far.

 

QUESTION:

In your previous answer to me you indicated that what makes a bestseller, in the end of the day, is massive media attention.  My question now is what sparks this attention. In other words, why, out of all your books, did Misquoting ...

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The Gospel Truth: Sometimes A Little Hazy

One of my all-time favorite interviewers is Terry Gross, the host and co-executive producer of Fresh Air on NPR.  I have done her show six times over the years for various books I’ve written, and it has been a terrific experience each time.  She is an amazing interviewer.  She asks really perceptive questions and knows how to get to what is especially interesting about a guest’s work.

If you’ve listened to her show, you’ll know that it always sounds like she ...

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My Interview on Fresh Air

As I have said before, every author who has done reasonably well selling trade books for a general audience knows that what drives sales is not the outstanding quality of a book — lots of terrific books go nowhere in sales, and others that are truly lousy end up being bestsellers — or in advertising. It’s all about media attention. When it comes to radio, one of the very best, top-flight programs to land is Fresh Air with Terry Gross. ...

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Fresh Air with Terry Gross and the Dish Book Club with Andrew Sullivan

I mentioned in an earlier post that the only way a trade book begins to sell well is if it gets media attention.   It is really, really hard to get media attention, and there’s very little that an author can personally do about it.  Authors have publicists (at the publisher) who try to get attention in print, radio, and TV; that’s what they do for a living, they do it all the time, they have the necessary contacts, and the ...

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