As an author, you may not want to admit, but you really care about selling books.
If you’re writing to get rich, you’ve got to sell millions of copies and writing a bestseller is key. If you’re more of a revolutionary and want to change the world, it would sure be a lot easier of a billion people adopted your ideas. Or if you want to be admired by others, you do want millions of fans.
Sure, some people just love to write, and so selling huge amounts of books isn’t important to them, but even they would probably like to make a comfortable living.
So what goes into writing a bestseller? Here are the three keys:
1. Write for a Huge Audience.
2. Serve Your Audience!
3. Market Effectively.
1) Write for a huge audience.
If you’re writing for left-handed Latvian’s over 90—you just can’t sell many books. There are only a couple hundred of them. So you want a big potential audience.
In defining your audience, look at the following:
How large is the audience? If I write for Americans, we have 330 million potential readers. If I write for Canadians, there are 38 million; Australia has 25, and so on.
I want to write books aimed at the whole English-speaking world, including English speakers in Germany, France, China, and India.
What is the primary gender of your readers? Yes, you can write books aimed only at women, or you can struggle harder and write books for people of any gender.
How old is your audience? You could write a book just children near twelve, but I loved the way that Rowling was able to bring in readers both young and old into her books.
What emotional draws does your audience crave? Do they want wonder, romance, intrigue? Are they after a mix of emotions, or one primary fix? (See my book “Million Dollar Outlines” for more information on emotional draws.)
We can go deeper. We can look at the needs of our audience based upon the phase of life they are going through. Is your reader a young person searching for a mate? An older person who is struggling to deal with death?
We might even get down to the level of interests. Does your reader like guns, dresses, money, cookies, or castles?
One way to find a huge audience is to recognize readers who are underserved by traditional publishing. For example, a friend wrote a novel about a daredevil stuntman. There are tens of millions of racing fans in the US. Movies about racers and racing have done exceedingly well, so he has a possible hit.
2) Serve Your Audience!
Get to know them intimately. Find out what interests them, and what they really need.
Read your competition. Watch the bestselling movies for your audience, and ask yourself, “What can I do better?”
I don’t want to make it sound like you can’t have artistic integrity. In fact, I suspect that the books that you want to write most are the ones that would please you the most. That means you understand your audience because you’re a part of it.
In order to write a bestseller, you actually have to write a bestseller. You can try to pawn off a crummy manuscript, but that almost always ends in disaster.
So what kind of book would you love to read? Is it the book your writing?
You will know when you’ve written a great book because readers will pass it along to friends. They’ll recommend it without asking for your approval or permission.
Years ago, I wrote a novel and passed it along to my writing group for a critique. When I came back the next week hoping to get feedback, all the writers had given the manuscript to friends. The authors would say, “I give it to my brother,” a neighbor, or some friend, and I couldn’t get it back. A couple of those manuscripts never came back. I call this the “pass-along rate.” If seventy percent of your readers pass the book along to a friend, you’ll do fantastic!
3) Market Effectively.
There’s a lot of competition for readers. Whether you’re publishing with traditional publishers or going indie, you need to understand how to market.
Where do people buy books? Online or in stores?
What format will they buy the book in—electronic, hardcover paper, or audiobook?
What kinds of readers are there—people who are looking for books by trusted reviewers, people who want to make up their own minds, or people who like to hop on the bandwagon and pick up only the most popular titles?
Naturally, someone will have to package the book properly. They’ll give it a great cover, a title that hooks the reader properly, and put on some great recommendations.
I see a lot of courses on how to market books. There are dozens of strategies, and the more I learn, the more I’m aware of the subtleties of marketing.
But let’s cut to the chase: proper marketing will cost time and money. Whether you advertise your book by submitting it to book blogs or writing contests, promote by doing signings at bookstores or by going to conventions, it requires an investment from you.
There really are only three basic steps to writing a bestseller, but as we get involved in composing novels, staying motivated, selling to publishers, and properly marketing books, we have to work out the details with each book.
I’ve got resources that might help. My book “Million Dollar Outlines” gives a lot of information on how to design a novel for a huge audience and was a #1 Bestseller on Amazon when it was released.
If you’re more interested in promoting a new book, you might look at many of my past blogs, but also try something “Blockbuster Book Signings”, where I talk about how to use signings as a promotional strategy that affects your career on a lot of levels.
Enroll now to break into the publishing field, level up to bestseller, or begin selling more books than you’ve ever imagined.
Please note that we are nearing the end of the quarter for the Writers of the Future Contest, one of the world’s largest short-story contests. You could win thousands of dollars in cash and prizes for your submissions! Check it out at www.writersofthefuture.com
Also, Amazon is doing a great promotion on some our past volumes edited by me. Check them out at