Anyone who has been writing for any length of time has had the following drummed into them:
In order to sell books you need to –
1. Have a fantastic cover
2. Have engaging characters
3. Have an intriguing plot
I submit to you that Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta – AKA Lady Gaga – has all of this nailed down pat.
The Lady has been on the music scene since 2007. Her first album, “Fame”, has sold 4.5 million albums as of August, 2013, and her second album, Born This Way, sold 1.1 million copies in its first week, becoming, according to Vulture, only the 17th record to sell that many copies since Soundscan began tracking these sort of things in 1991.
So. How does a virtual unknown rocket to the top of the music world from the beginning? Let’s revisit those intrepid rules we are so familiar with, to see if they cross over into other forms of art:
Have a fantastic cover –
If you’ve seen Mademoiselle Gaga sans makeup, you know she’s a beautiful woman…
But you very rarely see Stefani Germanotto – do you? No…you see this…
Each of her performances features more and more bizarre looks – and guess what – for our purposes, “bizarre” equals “different” in our little world, and that, my friends, is what sells books. You wanna be just like 10,483 other authors? I don’t…
Number two –
Have engaging characters –
If you have witnessed any of the previously mentioned onstage antics, you’ve witnessed peerless choreography, and accompanists who perfectly augment the Lady’s style and form. Devils, demons, and all types of baddies stalk across her landscape, and they capture the audience’s attention and heighten senses to a degree few acts have achieved…oh, and let’s not forget the main character, who has gone so far as imitating a motorcycle (can you say “vroom vroom“?)
Lastly, we come to plot –
Beyond all the glitz, USDA choice dresses, and cavorting goblins, we come to the music. Let’s face it, all the other stuff would hold attention for awhile, even if the Lady sang like Yoko Ono – but she doesn’t. She has a superb voice, and it’s further heightened by songs that constantly challenge the public at large to keep up. Quite simply, she puts out great music.
Now, I’m not suggesting that you go slapping a couple Porterhouses on your book (although the concept of grilling and reading doesn’t sound bad together), but I will say this –
The venerable Lady sells because she is never, ever lets her audience guess what’s coming next. They bang at her door because they can’t wait to see…
Sounds like a pretty good approach – don’t you think?