The Bestseller Syndrome

What Makes a Bestseller?

Presumably, anyone with a laptop and spellcheck can write a bestseller and anyone with pencils and paper can illustrate one, and anyone with both can write and illustrate a bestseller.

Illustration from Love You Forever, written by Robert Munsch, illustrated by Sheila McGraw, published by Firefly Books. More than 35 million in print.
Bestselling book, Love You Forever, written by Robert Munsch, illustrated by Sheila McGraw, published by Firefly Books. More than 35 million in print.

However… thousands upon thousands of books are published each year, but only a few rise to the top.

Of course we all want a bestseller, a book with the magic ingredient that kicks it to the top of the heap where it magically slides off the slush pile and lands in an agent’s or publisher’s hands. A book that then goes on to infiltrate the hearts and imaginations of readers… But how?

Is it hard work that makes a bestseller? It’s a good idea to hone and sharpen your manuscript until it hums. How about timing? Sure, it certainly helps if the public just happens to be aching for your product. Talent? Most certainly. How about inspiration? Of course. Set your mind free. Don’t be afraid. The worst that can happen is you’ll be laughed out of the bookstore.

The best that can happen is that rarest of all commodities –
an original thought.

Writers write. Butt on chair, hands on keyboard. Just keep putting one letter in front of the other… and best of luck.

Illustration from I Promise I'll Find You by Sheila McGraw
Illustration from the bestseller I Promise I’ll Find You, written by Heather Ward, Illustrated by Sheila McGraw, published by Firefly books
Illustration from Pussy Cats Everywhere by Sheila McGraw
Illustration from bestseller Pussycats Everywhere! written and illustrated by Sheila McGraw, published by Firefly Books

Thanks for stopping by!
Check out more Books for Children by Sheila McGraw
Please follow me on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram
The opinions expressed in this blog are mine alone

Hi! I'm Sheila McGraw. Welcome, and thank you for visiting. I began my career toiling in the “sequin-mines” of advertising and fashion houses as an illustrator and copywriter. Then, in 1986, Firefly Books approached me to illustrate a little book titled, Love You Forever.

Welcome hyper-typers and paint-slingers to my blog about writing, illustrating, and publishing books for kids and adults; art, crafting, and whatever else tickles my fancy.


1 Comment

  1. Unknown on April 15, 2019 at 2:35 pm

    At the moment I'm writing my own book for learning Russian. I'm wondering why a children's story has to have a "message." We wouldn't think of writing a novel with a "message." Readers would smell it a mile away. Why not write a great story and leave it at that? Good stories are their own message. They portray a character growing out of their old habits. In other words, escaping to a more mature version of themselves. There's no message there, that's just what good stories do.