food for thought

“I would say the biggest problem is underestimating the reading audience. I’ve always written cross-genre books: a suspense novel with a love story inside and some comedy. But publishers resisted this strenuously. Everything has to be labeled, and sold that way. If you’re writing a series, there is pressure to keep things narrow and not break out. Books like Herman Wouk’s “The Winds of War” and James Clavell’s “Shogun” have largely disappeared from the bestseller list. The common wisdom is that readers don’t have the patience they once did. But underestimating the reading public is a very big mistake. If there was more trust in the public, it would pay off. An editor once told me that if I didn’t keep my vocabulary to 500 words I’d never make the best-seller list.” – Dean Koontz in an interview in the Wall Street Journal

3 responses to “food for thought

  1. *sigh* I miss big books like that. Yet, they do still succeed and resonate, on a certain level. Otherwise, Diana Gabaldon and J.K. Rowling wouldn’t be publishing 800+ word novels. Although I suppose the main difference between the two of them, is that Diana’s are more the big, sprawling epics while Rowling’s are more narrowly focused, in theory, at any rate.

  2. If I’d never read a word I didn’t know, I’d have a mighty small vocabulary, too.
    All of my word knowlege is from books. Duh.

  3. I think the stats were something like: average total vocabulary of a human adult 1200 words, average convesational vocabulary (day to day usage) 300-400 words; avg African Grey Parrot vocab maximum capacity 700 words—hey-hey I know, let’s write books for parrots instead!
    -=Jeff=- <—wants a cracker.

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