Best Sellers and Super Stars

nikkiWhen I go to a Book Festival, I always go see the headliner, even if they write in genres other than my own (and they always do). So at the 2012 SC Book Festival, I sat in on Zane’s talk. If you don’t know her, Zane is the best-selling author of erotica, which is hugely different from the books I write, where terms like “making out”  and “hot” are considered a little too racy!

Another best-selling author I’ve made a point to see is David Baldacci, who writes crime fiction, and whose books have been made into blockbuster movies like Absolute Power. I’ve stood against a wall in a standing-room-only crowd to see poet Nikki Giovanni, even though I’ll never publish a book of poems like hers, and it was an amazing experience. I’ve sat dry-eyed in a room of teary women listening to Richard Paul Evans discuss his bestselling book, The Christmas Box.

Bottom line: I will go see the keynoters, the authors who have catapulted above the rest of us, even if they are speaking at the same time as someone else I really want to hear, whose work is more relevant to my own.

For this same reason, I went to see This is It, the movie documenting what would have been Michael Jackson’s last tour. Believe it or not, I also watched Justice Bieber’s Never Say Never, which tracked his rise to stardom.

When Duck Dynasty became a household name, I watched my first episode. I read Twilight when I couldn’t go two steps without hearing the word.


I think it is because I want the answer to that very question. Why? What quality do these authors and artists (or their works) have that sets them apart from others — often others who seem to have equal talent? I’ve made a hobby of trying to put my finger on that quality with each artist, and my finger rarely points to the word luck.

My most recent fascination is with the Grammy-winning band FUN., whose hit singles include Carry On, We Are Young, and Some Nights. There is something about all three of those songs… I wasn’t sure what, but a definite something that makes us want to listen to them again and again. It took me a day or two of thinking about it to put my finger on it, but I finally managed.

In a word: Solidarity.

We work to make ourselves stand out from the crowd. We strive to be unique individuals. But we still want to know we’re not alone. We want to know we’re in this together. And Carry On, allows us to sing along and feel like we are. This is what FUN. offers the masses: the feeling of solidarity.

Creative types, and others with products to sell, need to ask themselves: WHO is my audience and WHAT am I offering them? It doesn’t have to be solidarity. But you have to offer something – and if it’s just the right thing, you might find yourself on the best seller list (or the American Top Forty) too.

Here’s Carry On. Go ahead, sing along!

7 comments on “Best Sellers and Super Stars

  1. rnewman504 says:

    Kami, Great post! Media is media and whoever is doing something right is worth a listen.

  2. writersideup says:

    I do agree that it’s worth at least contemplating, often times briefly, what it is that makes someone or thing a “bestseller” in whatever work they do. It helps you understand society, really, but there’s often times that mysterious “x” factor that can’t necessarily be pinpointed and labeled, though it often has to do with a combo of at least several key factors, including charisma, talent and something that’s appealing to the majority of people (like “solidarity” or whatever). Some things you have to be born with, others you have to attain.

    • kamikinard says:

      Right Donna, there is OFTEN an X factor! We can’t control that and would drive ourselves crazy trying. But rarely is there ONLY an X factor. Usually the X factor is paired with something else, something new, or something great. That’s the part I try to figure out. (I’ve never been good at solving for X!) 🙂

  3. Melanie Vickers says:

    My favorite words:
    If you’re lost and alone or you’re sinking like a stone; carry on. May your path be the sound of your feet on the ground; carry on.
    Powerful words for young people.

    • kamikinard says:

      I love those lines too, and almost included them in the post, but didn’t want to make the post too long. Thanks for including them here in the comments. Great lyrics!

  4. […] Kami Kinard’s theme song is “Some Nights” by Fun. “I somehow feel empowered by all of their music,” she says, “because it makes me feel like we’re all in this together.” […]

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