Writer’s Corner: The Ingredients of a Best-Selling Book


Writer’s Corner: The Ingredients of a Best-Selling Book

If it isn’t already obvious, a best-seller is one that is read far and wide and has a lengthy lifespan. But there are so many factors that must first come into play to get your book on the best-selling list. Often one or more of them are pivotal factors that launch your book to the top. So, if you’re set on making headlines, and I hope you are, then consider the following ingredients in building your next best-seller.

Your Book. As mentioned, the storyline is the number one reason a book should make it to the best-sellers list. Yes, there are exceptions, celebrity biographies and cookbooks are just a few that will climb the ladder regardless of how riveting, or tasty, the content is. But what really makes your book worthy of ‘the list’ is the story that draws the reader in so much that they want to share their experience with others. Don’t forget, Oprah and Reese Witherspoon have launched obscure authors to stardom based on their experiences with a book. You just need a good story, interesting insight, or an amazing tale to get people talking about you and your book.

Your Name. If you’re a celebrity, influencer, or already a best-selling author, then you’ve got this in the bag. But if you’re not, that doesn’t mean it’s impossible. Many first-time authors make it to the best-selling list and soon become a household name. But an author’s name does come into play when you consider it from the reader’s and publisher’s perspectives.

If your book is culturally influenced, ethnic-based, or tells the story from a perspective that shares your same views and experiences, that only serves to increase the authenticity of the author and heightens the appeal to a broader range of readers. Also, many authors, like Nora Roberts (J.D. Robb) have adopted a pseudonym to appeal to readers of a different genre. Author’s name can also affect placement on shelves in bookstores, so don’t assume that your given name is the best for your work. Sometimes, a creative adaptation can change everything.

Your Title. You have probably heard of Who Moved My Cheese?, Surrounded By Idiots, The Book Thief, You Are a Badass, and The Bad Seed. These are just a few of the best-selling books that pull you in with their titles. Of course, the book needs to live up to the cover and these all have. But there is something about a humorous, creepy, enchanting, or bizarre title that makes it worth reading and gifting.

Your Agent. When you know the right people, it opens doors. Good literary agents are experts at doing so for their clients. They are the force behind the efforts of getting your book from draft to best-seller and when you find a great one, they can help you jump hurdles and navigate roadblocks. Their job is to get your book sold to a publisher and help ensure your book is a winner for all parties involved.

Your Influence. Who do you know? Who knows about you? These are pivotal questions in evaluating how your influence will launch your book. Your response may include connections in the industry or to celebrities or other best-selling authors who can write reviews or provide introductions. Now is the best time to start building your contacts and make sure that they are authentic and mutually beneficial relationships. Remember, influence works both ways. You have to give as well as gain.

Your Drive. This is where persistence enters the ingredient equation. You’ve heard the expression “the squeaky wheel gets the grease.” Sometimes this is the best ingredient you can add to your best-seller. If you believe in your book, don’t give up. Talk it up and get good at selling why you, and your book, deserve a chance. Trust me when I tell you that there are many best-selling authors with enough rejection letters to pave a path across the country. They just didn’t give up until the right door opened. If you don’t believe me, read J.K. Rowling’s biography. Every best-seller has a backstory and many of them share persistence as a key theme. Don’t give up.

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