The Westerfeld Report

Okay, so I don't think it's a secret that I adore like Scott Westerfeld. He only wrote the dystopian novel that inspired me to write one. And the best YA contemporary I've read, well, probably ever.

So when I found out he was coming to my neck of the woods, I jumped on that airship pretty darn fast. He spoke for an hour, and said some really cool stuff about writing and just life.

At the end, he took questions. One teen asked him why his books (and Stephenie Meyers'--ha!) were so popular while some don't get that attention.

I looked at my writing pal, and could tell that we were both thinking the same thing: Riddle me that, Westerfeld.

Because it's such a great question. Why do some books get the buzz and others don't?

Westerfeld's answer (this isn't word for word): If a book can get people talking about it, then it will be more successful. Because when we like a book, we tell all our friends to read it so we can then talk about it.

I thought that was a great answer. There's nothing I love more than to talk about books. So I ask you: Why do some books get more buzz than others? And what books have you read lately that are worth talking about?


Theresa Milstein said...

When a book gets buzz, I hope it's not a clever blog campaign and/or great connections. Recently, I read The Eternal Ones because of blog buzz and I wasn't disappointed. And now I'm 2/3 of the way through Firelight. It's clear what the fuss has been about.

Matthew MacNish said...

Hmm. Such an interesting question. I'm not sure that there really is a clear answer to this. Some of the best selling books ever really aren't that great, and then others that gather a lot of buzz are amazing.

I do agree that nothing sells like word of mouth, and I think that especially if other writers are talking about a book, it's probably worth picking up.

I won't give examples of any bad books, because as a writer I have to right to call any book bad, but sometimes I think it's just a matter of the right premise at the right time ... and then a sort of perfect storm begins to form out of nothing but chaos.

lotusgirl said...

As for question number one: ditto Westerfeld. How can I come up with a better response than that.

For question number two: I seriously pulled up my list of recent reads and saw Behemoth and thought "oooo, yeah." Haha. Westerfeld. Uh. For a non-Westerfeld how about Girl in Translation by Jean Kwok.

Margo Kelly said...

I am a big Westerfeld fan. Love his stuff. :)

I just read The DUFF.


Read it from cover to cover in one sitting. I'm torn, because I usually hate the f-word and detailed sex scenes in books... but doesn't the fact that I felt compelled to read it from cover to cover speak for something?

You can read my full opinion on goodreads or on my blog:

I love books... and chocolate.

Angie Smibert said...

I am so with you on the adoration of Scott Westerfeld, Elana. Uglies (and the rest of his books) showed me just how smart young adult science fiction can be.

Elana Johnson said...

Margo, I've read The Duff! Let's chat!!

Lotusgirl -- adding that to my list right now. Then we can chat too!

Matt --I LOVE the perfect storm analogy. I feel like I live inside this storm. So yeah.

Theresa, I'm glad you can see what the fuss is about. That's always reassuring when reading.

Angie, "smart" is the perfect word for Westerfeld's YA stuff.

:) :) :)

Cindy R. Wilson said...

Word of mouth is a great marketing too. So many people have gotten me to buy a book by raving about it--and the other way around.

Scott Westerfield is a terrific writer. I have read very few YA novels but when I was experimenting with genres several years back, I randomly picked up one of his books from the bookstore and couldn't put it down. I remember recommending it to other people--none of them young adults either!

Jemi Fraser said...

I love Westerfield's stuff too! I'm so jealous you got to hear him speak!!!

I like a lot of it is luck and timing - getting the right book into the right hands at the right time. Of course, my timing has always stunk so that worries me a bit!! :)

Sierra Gardner said...

I feel like the reader response is huge! Some books I read, I like, and then I forget. But then there are those few that I read and I'm angry when I finish because there isn't any more to read! I find myself thinking about the story, or the characters, or the world at random times. I'm not sure how exactly you craft a story like that, but if it stays with you then it will be the one you bring up when someone asks you what they should read.

RaShelle Workman said...

Hi Elana - FYI, I've started reading Uglies. I love talking about a novel. It's the best!
A novel I would reccomend - highly! Revolution by: Jennifer Donnelly. Some of the best writing. Every sentence was a treat.

Elana Johnson said...

Obviously, I'm not the only Westerfeld fan. And thanks, RaShelle--I'll add it to my list! :)

Nichole Giles said...

Neil Shusterman's stuff is talk about good. Especially Unwind. And MATCHED by Ally Condie. And there's this other book I've heard about that really, really rocks. It's called Possession, and is killer awesome.

And yeah, I loved what Westerfeld said too. Such great insights.

Also a good reminder for us authors to be prepared for questions from the smart kids. Cuz, you know, wouldn't want to get stumped in front of an audience or anything. *winks*

Michelle said...

Mr. Westerfeld is one smart guy isn't he? It makes total sense that when we want to talk about a book it encourages us to recommend that book. Recently I read Daisy Whitney's Mockingbirds which is filled with conversational plotlines (the justice system, vigilanteism, date rape) I suspect it will be one that does well.