Nobody Knows Anything is a famous quote by writer William Goldman. It's about how in Hollywood, just like the publishing business, they don't know what will be successful. Of course, they can take risks and use their educated backgrounds to guess, but ultimately, no one can tell you why "Shades of Grey" broke out over say, the tons of erotica garbage that's already on the market.
As a writer, that has been one of the hardest lessons for me. I KNOW why the classics have stuck around. I can see the storytelling capability, the beauty of words...often in today's bestsellers -- some with people's names on the covers who didn't even write the books -- I can't see why they're bestsellers.
That is frustrating for an author. Why this one? What am I missing? Incidentally, I'm not envious because I feel like God has His plan and He decides ultimately, who will have success. However, just from a learning standpoint, I get frustrated that I can't understand it.
Have you ever felt like that about a book? There are books that I haven't liked, but I still see why they broke out. Here's an example. I loved "Her Fearful Symmetry" by Audrey Niffenegger, but I couldn't get through two chapters of her breakout book, "The Time Traveler's Wife."
Is there a bestseller that surprised you? What about one that lived up to its hype for you? (For me, that would be "Gone Girl" but I know Colleen didn't really care for it.)