Tuesday, 16 March 2010

Is Your Book A Whisper Book?

Whisper books are the holy grail of the publishing industry – a book which, without any particular ‘hyping’, appears out of nowhere to become a runaway bestseller. A book which people buy and read just because someone else tells them how bloody marvellous it is.

The example everyone will quote is Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. Hard though it is to imagine at this remove, back in 1997, Bloomsbury had just taken a punt on an unknown writer and a manuscript eight other publishers had rejected. They presumably expected to make a respectable number of sales with it but no one imagined it would become a worldwide phenomenon. Certainly, it didn’t have any massive publicity machine behind it. But children started reading it – and they started telling other children about it. And like the perfect meme, the news spread.

Of course, the whole point about whisper books is that they are essentially random. If it were possible to predict just what combination of zeitgeist and great writing would cause this kind of reading explosion, every publisher in the business would be saving themselves a fortune in marketing. On the other hand, it can’t hurt (can it?) to maximise the chances of your book being talked about. But what can you, the author, do?

Read the full article by Catriona Troth in the next issue of Words with JAM ...

1 comment: