Author Lee Child has the strongest reader loyalty of any bestselling author. He emphasizes three key factors behind his character, Reacher’s, success:
Consistency – Unlike Stephen King or John Grisham, Child’s work is a single series. “A series is better than a sequence of [unrelated] books in terms of building brand loyalty. There are two components of loyalty: one is the author and the second is the subject. If you like the author but you’re uncertain of the content of the next book, that’s an obstacle. It runs counter to the literary view of writing that values originality and growth. Jack Reacher is the same person in every book. He’s unemotional and focused on detail. There are lots of things that he always does that characterize who he is.” It may be no coincidence then that the last two offerings from King and Grisham (Doctor Sleep and Sycamore Row, respectively) are both sequels of their most popular early novels. Grisham’s work did a good job of communicating this relationship – and sold 21% more than his last book, The Racketeer. Doctor Sleep didn’t initially communicate that it was the sequel to The Shining, and it’s sold only on par with 11/22/63, King’s last bestseller.
Authenticity – Child has a very unique take on what makes a novel authentic. “Authenticity is not the same thing as accuracy. I live in New York. If you know New York then some of the actual reality of [life in] New York might not seem believable to the reader who doesn’t live here.” And by this, Child means that the art of narrative authenticity is culling details that are authentic from the larger pool of those that might be merely accurate.
Uniqueness – Corporate marketers find uniqueness in two-axis consulting charts showing them where the holes in the market exist. Child stresses something completely different. “I ignored all the other series. If you start with a laundry list of things then the book won’t be organic. Reacher is not a white knight. He lies and cheats and steals but because he’s doing it with integrity, people recognize him as a real human being.”
You can read the rest here. Very informative post by David Vinjamuri.