A to Z: the X factor

Please note that I'll be out of town, with little-if-any internet access, for the next few days.  I hate to miss the homestretch of A to Z, but if I don't stop by your blog this weekend, please know I'm planning on getting there ASAP!

Some books are brilliant and amazing and have wide appeal, and they go on to become NY Times bestsellers.  Some books are brilliant and amazing and have wide appeal, and they barely register as a blip on the radar screen.

What is it that causes some books to become huge hits, and others to disappear into the abyss?  What is the x-factor here?

I know, I know.  If there was a clear answer to that then everyone reading this would be writing bestsellers and we'd all quit our jobs to become rich and happy doing what we love.  (Actually, that sounds amazing.  Could someone get on that please?)

It seems to be some odd combination of luck and timing and publicity and a character or world or concept that hits a large group of people in a very specific (and clearly unpredictable) way.  Who knew that the entire world wanted to escape into a magical world of witches and wizards alongside an 11-year-old boy?  Who could have predicted that we would all follow a teenage girl into a war zone orchestrated by a corrupt government?

We have anxieties; we want escape.  Sometimes a book manages to stoke those anxieties and then provide an answer that resonates, I suppose.

Other thoughts?

One month.  26 posts.  A to Z.  (Don't know what I'm talking about?  Check out the Challenge here.)


  1. LOL! Yet another A-to-Z jinx!!!

    Clearly -- great minds think alike. ;^)

    As I said in my blog for today, the "X-Factor" is that magic what allows art to transcend merely being "good." It's undefinable, elusive, and mystical.

    Great post (as always), Jes!

  2. Ah the X factor...the uneXpected.

  3. Love what Chris said - it is an indefinable something we all wish we had.

  4. I think you and Chris covered it, but someone else tried to figure it out here:


  5. I think you nailed it. It's that odd combination, combined with luck and timing that makes for a big hit.

    New follower here and a fellow Jessica (though I've always spelled my Jess with two s's. ;))

    A to Z Blogger & SF/Fantasy Writer @ Visions of Other Worlds