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50 Shades of Reader – What makes a great Bestseller?

Having had 50 Shades of Beige and 50 Shades of Greece, today we welcome Sarah Houldcroft to our blog with 50 Shades of Reader!

auburn haired lady reading 650Are there really 50 shades of reader or do we all basically want the same thing from the books we read?  The vast majority reading this blog will know of the hype surrounding 50 Shades of Grey and possibly a large number of those will have read the book, but is an almost equally large number criticising the way it was written?  It would appear so. There were, apparently, a large number of readers who were dissatisfied with the book, but it was still a runaway bestseller.

This would suggest that the style of writing does not necessarily dictate how popular a book will become. The ‘action’ and characters, in this instance, caught the imagination! But is that always the case? What makes a Bestseller?

I love to read to escape and become engrossed in the lives of the characters in the book I am reading. I almost think of them as friends and feel their pain or joy. I want to be transported away from my reading chair to other places and times.  For instance, in Lizzie Lamb’s own ‘Tall, Dark and Kilted’ I am standing on the side of the road with Fliss looking down into the Scottish Loch for the first time and catching a glimpse of the house that is to be her new home. With June Kearns’ The 20’s Girl, I could feel the Texas heat on my face and almost had to shake the desert sand off the book pages. So the warm water surrounding the Greek island in Margaret Cullingford’s Twins of a Gazelle was very refreshing and relaxing. I caught up with some old friends in the third and final part of Adrienne Vaughan’s Heartfelt series, I had really missed them!

But, does everyone else feel the same way I do about reading?

I asked three busy business ladies, who like to read to relax and switch off after a full day’s work, in their opinion what makes a bestseller.


Sue Ritchie‘To me what makes a bestseller is a combination of things:

Keeping the readers interest as you read the book and also evoking emotions, excitement, interest and intrigue and curiosity throughout.

I don’t think you particularly have to relate to the characters in the book, but they do have to have depth and character that is real.

Being able to paint the pictures so the reader can visualise the situation is very powerful too.’

Sue Ritchie

Louisa Sando Patel‘A strong, bold cover design goes a long way in terms of whether I reach for a brand new book in-store. Online, I do rely heavily upon customer reviews, unless I am very familiar with the author.

Story-wise, I like to be kept in suspense on every page, and I love unexpected endings. Some of my favourite bestsellers are those where a story has been set across many time periods, reaching back into history and then bringing a storyline right up-to-date. What’s more, a series of well-defined characters set against a well-described backdrop, I believe are essential traits of a bestseller. I want to be able to ‘taste the sea air’ and to ‘smell the roses’.’

Louisa Sando-Patel

Bernie Sarginson‘A great fictional best seller from my perspective is all about the storyline and how the web of the story is created and unfolds around the characters.

The cover will attract my attention in the first place if it looks intriguing and draws me in, to check out that all important first page. If I’m hooked after the first few lines or paragraphs, then I’ll buy the book.

What I’m always looking for is a real page turner that I can’t put down because there is always something else happening and I love unexpected surprises, twists and turns within the plotlines.’

Bernadette Sarginson


We all come from different backgrounds and our businesses are very diverse, but we all seem to read with the same purpose in mind– to relax and escape. Strong characters and intriguing plots together with the ability for us to become emotionally involved in the story are the most important traits for all of us. Coupled together with a stunning cover, that seems to be the essence of a bestseller.

Ok, I know this is only the opinions of the four of us, but I suspect that most women will feel the same. We want to not just read the book, but feel what the characters are feeling, see what they are seeing, hearing and even sometimes smelling! It needs to be a complete sensory experience.

Of course, the authors of New Romantics Press do provide us with a fabulous mix of emotional content, together with, a generous helping of humour, not to mention our very own hot heroes!

So, an entire 50 shades of reader? I’m not so sure.


Sarah Houldcroft VAforAuthors 400Sarah Houldcroft enjoys giving authors more time to write by helping them with all aspects of their self publishing journey. She offers a wide range of services from converting manuscripts to ebooks and print books, through to author websites and social media. She can be contacted at

She lives in Leicestershire with her teenage son, three rescue dogs, two ageing bunnies and hundreds and hundreds of books.