The best single predictor in the success of a book is the determination of the author.
There are other factors we could talk about, but most of them cannot be quantified at the beginning (or end for that matter) of the project. Media coverage, social media buzz, and Oprah's Book Club all come after a whole host of other things have happened.
The majority won't even get the book written. An even smaller slice will find an agent and editor who supports their vision. And once the book hits the market, I don't need to tell you that only a handful of book find true success.
Paul Graham of Y Combinator wrote a piece for Forbes about the qualities they look for in the founders of start-ups. Determination was at the top of the list. In the past, Graham has described the same quality as relentlessly resourceful.
Comparing authors to entrepreneurs is apt one. Both groups are trying to launch a business, an idea into the marketplace filled with competition for the buyer's attention and dollars.
One publisher once described to me that they love seeing that "wolverine-like attitude." Someone who would go through walls to get their book in the hands of the right person. While some might take this literally, I have always thought that this meant
The Instant MBA quote from yesterday was from Steve Jobs in 1995, then CEO of NeXT Computer and seems like a proper way to end this post:
"I'm convinced that about half of what separates the successful entrepreneurs from the non-successful ones is pure perseverance. It is so hard. You put so much of your life into this thing.
There are such rough moments in time that I think most people give up. I don't blame them. Its really tough and it consumes your life. If you've got a family and you're in the early days of a company, I can't imagine how one could do it. It's pretty much an eighteen-hour day job, seven days a week, for a while.
Unless you have a lot of passion about this, you're not going to survive. You're going to give it up. So you've got to have an idea, or a problem, or a wrong that you want to right, that you're passionate about. Otherwise, you're not going to have the perseverance to stick it through. I think that's half the battle right there."