Sunday, October 4, 2020

Are Authors Hoping To Be The Next Forrest Gump?


Some 25 or so years ago Tom Hanks played the lovable lead in the Academy Award-winning film, Forrest Gump. Gump was seemingly slow and not book-smart but he would overcome his physical and intellectual holdbacks to miraculously be a war hero, world ping-pong champ, meet famous people, stumble upon historic moments, become a wealthy man, and seemingly do anything except get his damaged childhood crush to fall in love with him until she was dying. He represented the good, wholesome, and simple, living through a turbulent era that took him from the Vietnam War and civil rights movement to hippies and AIDS.

The film, which grossed over 670 million dollars globally and was nominated for 13 Academy Awards, was based on a book by Winston Groom. The author passed away in September. In reading his obituary I learned that the book, though it “sold respectfully and earned good reviews,” was not a best-seller until the movie exploded eight years later.

Every author dreams of having a hit book or a book turned into a movie. It only happens to a handful of people each year. Groom knew in his heart that his book was a hit but it took the movie to make the book a hit. How hard that must be, for writers to know they are producing something great but also keenly aware that only a few books can grab the headlines and break through the pack. Fame is delayed for many and denied to most.

Groom should give all authors hope.  To those who wonder if their writing is good enough to be made into a movie, they should know that dreams can come true to some. To those who wonder if their book will become a bestseller, they should know that the road to that list can sometimes take longer, with more unexpected turns than one would anticipate. But writers can break through the clutter.

Groom’s book has elements that any great book can embrace, including:


·         Having a likeable character.

·         Giving us a feeling of being lucky beyond belief while having to overcome hardships.

·         A love interest that eludes him for most of the story.

·         A story where the lead character grows up.

·         Historical setting to provide a relatable perspective.

And yet many other hit books would not even have one of the above elements. There is no formula for a hit, no rhyme or reason. People want a good story that they can get lost in and root for, while appreciating they are getting to live vicariously through the fiction they consume. Books are our surrogates.  Gump is an avatar for good.

Groom is our hero. He is the writer that had a hit movie before the book was a best-seller. He might just have had a few things in common with Gump.


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Brian Feinblum, the founder of BookMarketingBuzzBlog, can be reached at  His insightful views, provocative opinions, and interesting ideas expressed in this terrific blog are the product of his genius. You can – and should -- follow him on Twitter @theprexpert. He feels much more important when discussed in the third-person. This is copyrighted by BookMarketingBuzzBlog ©2020. Born and raised in Brooklyn, he now resides in Westchester. His writings are often featured in The Writer and IBPA’s The Independent.  This was named one of the best book marketing blogs by BookBaby and recognized by Feedspot in 2018 as one of the top book marketing blogs. Also named by as a "best resource.” He recently hosted a panel on book publicity for Book Expo.

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