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It'll Never Be a Bestseller
September 2, 2021
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"It'll never be a bestseller." That's what my grandmother said about my first novel, The Time Dancer. I was hurt. She clarified: "I'm not saying it's no good. I liked it. It's not trashy like so many of the books you see these days. That's why it'll never be a bestseller. It's not smutty enough."

There was no denying that my grandmother knew her way around a bestseller.

Sadie Gordon

Trashy sells, still. But I hadn't set out to write a bestseller. I was having fun, trying something new, and figuring that if I wrote something I would find enjoyable to read, others might enjoy it too. I put in everything I liked and left out what I didn't -- violence, gore, smut (all those bestseller ingredients). Not being trashy was part of my message. So I used my grandmother's observation as a selling point.

No, it wasn't a bestseller. But it was the beginning of a new creative, and ultimately professional, endeavor for me. Writer, editor, book designer, publisher... though I still prefer to simply call myself an artist. I've recently written two sequels to The Time Dancer to complete the trilogy I long envisioned, and I hold out hope that the magical adventures of the time-traveling Gypsy Esmarelda can provide as much entertainment and joy for others as they have for me. I'm looking for beauty and love and creativity and fun in life and in fiction. Why would I write (or publish) the sort of thing I don't even care to read?

The Time Dancer vintage sign

So I have this message to all the writers out there:

Most likely, your book is not going to be a bestseller for any number of valid or lame reasons. But it could outlive you. And the process of writing it should nourish you. And your voice, thoughts and ideas are as deserving of an airing as anyone else's. So write the best book you can. Find books you really liked reading to emulate -- not necessarily bestsellers. If you happen to be the kind of person who truly enjoys selling and is good at it, maybe consider selling something other than books (just sayin') but do keep writing your book.

Seriously, Writers, if you feel you have a book in you that no one can write but you, then the sooner you stop surfing the internet for tips and trade secrets and how-to's and success stories and no-no's and admonishments, and buckle down to your task, the more likely you will achieve that vision. And at that point, to everyone who wants to pass judgment on your work, or bar the path forward, or belittle your effort, you may tell them (in whatever tone of voice is warranted): "Go write your own book."

In conclusion, I didn't make a lot of dough writing The Time Dancer, but I made exactly what I set out to make: a little bit of magic.

Actually, quite a lot of magic..

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Copyright © 2021 Zelda Gatuskin

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