Yep, The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho, one of the most widely read books in the world, is visionary fiction. And its rise from a flop in 1988 (with sales so dismal that the book was dropped by its publisher) to record-breaking best seller (sixty-five million copies sold and three hundred weeks on the New York Times Best Sellers list) started before most readers had even heard of VF as a genre.
Seems genre doesn’t matter when it comes to bestsellerdom. Write a great story and readers won’t care. Anywhere.
The Alchemist is one of the most translated books by a living author. In fifty-six different languages! How’s that for international?
Limpid Visionary Fable
So how does a limpid little fable, deemed “more self-help than literature” by The New York Times, become such a phenomenon?
I mean, what’s the secret? How’d Coelho do it?
Is The Alchemist’s unparalleled success due to Coelho’s guerrilla marketing and kick-ass blog tours? How about the draw of sex? It worked for Fifty Shades of Grey. Or horror as in Misery? Or violence as in A Game of Thrones? Or maybe his accomplishment is due to celebrity support. We know that Oprah likes him, so that must be the answer.
Hold it. Not so fast.
Paulo Coelho says “no” to all of the above.
But don’t take my word for it. See for yourself.
Visionary Readers and Writers Take Heart
Okay, if the word-of-mouth phenomenon worked for all writers, then every well-written book would be a best seller. Right? And, it certainly wouldn’t hurt to have Oprah, Madonna, Bill Clinton, Julia Roberts, and Pharrell Williams on your side.
But take heart visionary fiction writers. If you write a great book (as defined by loyal readers not literary experts), there’s hope that your life’s work may become a word-of-mouth hit. Maybe not in the sixty-five million category, but in a category satisfying enough to show you that you’re on the right track.
Which should alert all readers to the power they exert collectively over what type of books shoot to the top of the heap and thus continue to be written – and read.
No incentive like success to encourage writers to write fiction that heals, empowers, and bridges differences.
You got it. I’m talking visionary fiction.
“When you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it.” ~Paulo Coelho.