Overrated

I want to be overrated.

This thought comes out of a weekend post on social media, in which a writer asked what books of the last thirty years other people had found to be the most overrated.  It’s a fair question, and I think there’s a paradox here:

The bigger the book in terms of sales, the more overrated it will necessarily be.

For two reasons.  First, the more people have read book X, the more people will have been disappointed with book X.

Second, a book becomes a real juggernaut (Twilight, Harry Potter, Game of Thrones) not by the awesomeness of its writing, but for other reasons that are more complex and harder to predict.  Timing, zeitgeist, luck, Hollywood support, other factors.  Books do not become disproportionate, higher order of magnitude bestsellers because their authors are disproportionately, higher order of magnitude better writers.  Stephen King and J.K. Rowling have both tried to disprove this basic fact by writing under pseudonyms, and both had to face the hard truth that talent does not equal book sales.

So by definition, books that have disproportionate, higher order of magnitude sales are overrated.  They didn’t get those sales because of sheer awesomeness — something else happened.  Timing, zeitgeist, luck, other factors.  The biggest books will always be overrated.

I want to be overrated.

About David

I'm a writer. This is my blog.
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