by Anna Bell
It’s every aspiring author’s dream to get published, and I reckon, deep down, it’s every aspiring author’s dream to become an instant bestseller. To have that book that everyone is talking about, and to be that author in demand within the industry. As I come to the end of my first publishing deal, and I haven’t reached those dizzy heights, I have to remind myself that not every author is an overnight success.
I remember reading about Zoe Sugg’s debut novel Girl Online becoming the fastest debut novel of all time, selling over 78,000 copies in its first week. I know she’s a hugely popular blogger, but still, it’s amazing. I have to admit, Miss Jealous Pants over here did feel slightly better when it turned out to be ghostwritten, but Zoe’s not the only debut author to have done spectacularly well. You don’t have to struggle to think of others who were an instant success – S. J/ Watson with Before I Go to Sleep, Zadie Smith with White Teeth, J.K. Rowling with Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone and, of course, E. L. James with Fifty Shades of Grey, to name just a few..
I was one of the five million people who bought Me Before You by Jojo Moyes. Five million! I enjoyed it, but it wasn’t until I started going through her backlist that I absolutely fell in love with another one of her novels, The Last Letter from Your Lover. I adored it so much more than Me Before You. I sometimes expect backlist books to be inferior quality to the bestseller that got me hooked on an author, assuming that the author has improved with each book, but it seems from what I’ve read that Jojo has always been a good writer, and her books brilliant, yet for some reason it was her ninth novel that was a runaway success.
Then there are those authors that have switched genres and seen huge success. Cally Taylor was a successful romantic comedy author, with her novel Heaven Can Wait often on people’s must-read women’s fiction lists, yet her psychological thriller The Accident – written under the name C.L. Taylor – was even more successful, selling over 150,000 copies. Women’s fiction queen Sophie Kinsella had already had six novels published under her own name, Madeline Wickham, when she switched to rom-coms and released The Secret Dreamworld of a Shopaholic.
Despite being a published author, I guess I still very much feel like an aspiring author. I’d love to be a household name like the authors I’ve mentioned in this column, but it’s nice to remember that not all of those bestsellers got there overnight. It makes me feel better that maybe my next book will be ‘the one’.
Do you think you’re always an aspiring author until you become a bestseller? Do you dream of being the ‘next big thing’?