Is that your dream? To sell 650 million books, have 2000+ 5–star reviews on Amazon, earn £64 million in British sales alone, write 90 bestsellers ...?
I can tell you how, but there's a hitch: first you have to be Danielle Steel. Let me share a few clues from her website. Notice the talent, persistence, hard work, enterprise and altruism?
- bi-lingual, French/English, also speaks Spanish and Italian
- has worked as teacher, translator and advertising copywriter
- has eight children
- worked on the streets with the homeless for 11 years after her son died
- at one time held down three jobs and wrote at night
- wrote a successful novel at 19, then wrote five books that were never published
- established two foundations, one to help the mentally ill, and the other to help the homeless
- curates a contemporary art show once a year for a gallery in San Francisco.
Naturally, you will need everything that every popular novel needs in abundance: a riveting plot, strong characters, straightforward dialogue, ruthless structure, and an easy-to-read style.
Easy? I tested the first paragraph of her latest novel, The Prodigal Son, for readability. On the Flesch-Kincaid Reading Ease test, the score was 82.3, which means that 82.3% of English-speaking adults can probably read and understand it easily. This is exceptionally easy to read, I assure you.
Finally, when reading The Prodigal Son I noticed one quirk that is not what I'm used to. Steel reiterated certain points of character over and over and over again. In particular, I guess she told me 15 times how everyone in town thought the good twin, Michael the beloved small town doctor, was a saint. OK, I get it. I got it the first time. But let's not dismiss this as bad writing: I dare say this technique helps to make her novels so spectacularly popular. Popular means everybody gets her meaning.