Build Your Own Bestseller: Three Idiot-Proof Formulas

by Noreen Malone | October 22, 2013

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In the mid-1800s, the English-speaking world was mad for tales of bigamy—the original spouse either hiding in the attic or just back from the colonies. The culprit was Jane Eyre, which set off a micro-genre of copycat books. Below, a few more recent examples of breakout authors and their sincerest flatterers.

1. A teenage feminist heroine with …

Expert archery skills
Clairvoyant powers
Dataknow-how
+

Who lives in …

Post-apocalyptic North America (“Panem”)
Totalitarian Britain c. 2059
Grim, futuristic Chicago
+

Survives not just multiple books but also …

A minors-only death match
Kidnapping by evil creatures
Hypnotized conscription into battle
=

The Hunger Games
By Suzanne Collins


The Bone Season
By Samantha Shannon


Divergent
By Veronica Roth

 

2. Book begins with a dead, presumed dead, or soon-to-be dead …

Wife
Daughter
Husband
+

Plot also includes a failing marriage brought on by …

Dark secrets
Dark secrets
Dark secrets
+

Twists are revealed via …

His and hers chapters plus a duplicitous diary
A shocking letter
His and hers chapters, sans epistolary element
=

Gone Girl
By Gillian Flynn


The Husband’s Secret
By Liane Moriarty


The Silent Wife
By A.S.A. Harrison

 

3. The memoir-ish musings of the female auteur and star of …

A metaNBC sitcom
A rom-com-ish FOX sitcom
A dark HBO sitcom
+

Revelations of self-deprecating intimate details like …

Late virginity loss
The difficulty of fitting into stylist-provided wardrobes as a size 8
The keeping of extensive food diaries
+

Sprinklings of wry girl-power counsel, including …

“If you’re so mad you could just cry, then cry. It terrifies everyone.”

“Another old saying is that revenge is a dish best served cold. But it feels best served piping hot, straight out of the oven of outrage.”

“How to dress for a business meeting and other hard-earned fashion lessons from a size 10 who went to the Met Ball.”

=

Bossypants
By Tina Fey


Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me?
By Mindy Kaling


Not That Kind of Girl (forthcoming)
By Lena Dunham

 

the hunger games: scholastic; the bone season: bloomsbury; divergent: harpercollins children’s books; gone girl and is everyone hanging out without me?: crown publishing group; the husband’s secret: amy einhorn books; the silent wife: penguin books; bossypants: little, brown and company; mindy kaling: filmmagic; lena dunham and tina fey: getty images


Source URL: http://www.newrepublic.com//article/114999/build-your-own-bestseller-three-idiot-proof-formulas