Tuesday, May 10, 2011

A Formula Guaranteed to Sell Books

Despite the claims of some people, there isn’t much people can do to guarantee that a book will be a bestseller. You can dump a bunch of money into it and that might produce more sales, but the sales may not be enough to recover the cost. But consider the book Heaven is for Real from Thomas Nelson, which has recently had a quick climb up the bestseller lists and compare it to The Shack, which had a similar climb a few months ago. They are so alike that we could almost classify them as a genre. Both books handle the unknown. The Shack paints a picture of God, while Heaven is for Real paints a picture of heaven. They are both written by Bible scholars. They both have an emotional draw that makes the general reader feel good about the topic. They both disregard the clear teaching of the Bible concerning the topics they discuss.

If you scan the Google search results for these books, what you’ll find is a fairly even distribution between those readers who are impressed with the book and those Bible scholars who are frustrated because people are so quick to ignore what the Bible says in favor of made up doctrine. It gives you two camps. One thinks everyone should read the book. The other thinks everyone should know better. The two sides end up arguing against each other, fueling each other’s fire. One says you should read it, so another counters that to say you shouldn’t, and then another counters to say you should. The result is that a lot of people know about the book and will purchase the book just to see what it’s about. If there is a formula guaranteed to sell books, this is it.