How to Be a Bestseller: Top Strategies for Success
200 million people in America say they want to write a book but very few will actually follow through on their dream. Figuring out how to write and publish a book can feel daunting and after a few starts and stops many people abandon their goal, open up a pint of ice cream and turn on Netflix. Without guidance, it’s far too easy to get overwhelmed with work, kids, and those hundreds of emails a day. Too tempting to go back to being a consumer vs a creator.
But you’re reading this because you have a book in you. Maybe you’ve known this for years, even decades. Or maybe this is a new dream. Either way, you’re going to need more than a great idea. You need a full roadmap that includes a compelling idea, a way to build and inspire your audience and a way to attract your ideal people to work further with you.
Draw the Reader in Through Storytelling
An immediate way you can connect with your reader and inspire them to read the rest of your book is to start with your story. I call this your Origin Story. Think of superheroes. Batman’s parents were killed behind the movie theater in Gotham City and Batman grows up to fight crime. That’s the origin story of his mission. Every writer, thought leader and expert has a superhero origin story. There is a reason why you do the work you do, why you’re writing a book.
Your origin story may begin with trauma like Batman’s. Or a revelation, an innovative perspective you gained by pursuing a dream or a unique experience you encountered while traveling or living in another part of the world. To truly enroll your reader, include both your personal journey and your professional expertise in your topic.
Sharing your origin story creates rapport. Your honesty and intimacy proves to the reader that they can trust you. Sharing the personal or professional experience you have on your topic gives readers confidence that you are the person to guide, help and lead them to their next achievement.
Strategic Book Title and Branding
Your book title is the first point of contact with potential readers, and it should grab their attention while conveying the essence of your message. A compelling title not only sparks curiosity but also sets the tone for your entire book.
I like to think of the title as the aspiration and the subtitle as the promise to your reader. If the title is Unforgettable, and the subtitle is, 7 Steps to Standing Out as an Industry Leader, the reader will gravitate toward their dream (being Unforgettable in the marketplace) and they’ll know by the end of the book they’ll have taken 7 steps to get there.
If you already have a business, product, course or established brand, consider strategically aligning your title with your already established brand. If your course is called Millionaire Mom, make that the name of the book. The repetition of your brand in the book and products will strengthen visibility and then sales for you exponentially.
Leverage the Power of Marketing
The most well written book will never make a bestseller if no one knows about it. You can hire a PR firm or run ads to your book but most of my clients choose organic marketing. I grew to making over $1Million per year only through organic strategies like guest speaking, appearing on podcasts, email newsletters and social media posts. Choose the type of marketing you enjoy most and start buzz about your book at least six months before you launch. I’ve coached my clients to create: sneak peeks, podcast tours, first chapter excerpts, behind the scenes interviews and book cover reveal videos.
Choose your favorite social media platform and build up to more frequent posts. Reach out to influencers with big audiences of your ideal reader and ask if they’d share about your book in exchange for an advanced copy. There is an authentic and effective way for each author to market. Check out what other authors are doing and make a map of your personal marketing strategy based on your favorites.
Build a Robust Author Platform
Your author platform is an extension of your marketing. It’s your sphere of influence. Your platform is a combination of all the places readers can find you and your book. Again, choose your favorite online outlets and be omnipresent there. Find out where your ideal readers consume content, look for book recommendations and ask questions. Make yourself available where your ideal reader already spends time and your book will shoot up the bestseller list.
Participate in the Literary Community
One of the best ways to grow your audience and sell books is to attend and support literary events. When you show up (and bring friends!) to another author’s book signing, you’ll make a connection. That author and their friends may do the same when your book launches.
You can meet editors, literary agents, media reps and show producers by participating in live and online book events. Every year, the AWP writing conference, for example, brings together over 20,000 writers and people in publishing. Breadloaf (the famous workshop hosted by Middlebury college) has intimate workshops in Europe and the US every summer. There are thousands of conferences, book events, workshops and retreats in the US alone every year.
As much as we write solo, the business of writing is a team sport. Get out into your community and the online world. By supporting others, you’ll be inspired, meet great people and have a crowd around you when it’s your book’s turn.
Enlist Beta Readers and Editors
The most famous and talented writers in the world have editors. Most of them also invite “beta”, or early readers, to get feedback before they publish each book. If the best writers work with editors, certainly you’ll want to engage an editor as you develop your craft.
Professional editors bring a wealth of expertise to the table. They have a keen eye for detail, ensuring your book meets industry standards and is free from errors that could diminish its impact. Their expertise in language, pacing, structure, and grammar can elevate your writing to a professional level, increasing its chances of being well-received by readers and critics alike.
By incorporating feedback from beta readers and working with professional editors, you can refine your book, enhancing its quality and increasing its market appeal. This collaborative approach not only improves the overall reading experience but also positions your work for success in the competitive world of publishing. With their support, you can confidently move closer to achieving your goal of becoming a bestselling author.
Hire a Book/Writing Coach
After many years of aspiring to be published, I was introduced to a literary agent. She reviewed my manuscript and gave me an extensive list of recommended revisions. She said that if I made the changes she’d consider representing me.
I’d wanted to be a published author since I wrote in my first journal at age 5. I returned from the agent meeting however and froze. I couldn’t get myself to do the revision work. I understand now I was afraid. Scared that I’d try my best, she’d decline and I’d find out I really didn’t have what it takes. That I wasn’t good enough.
Luckily I’d heard about a writing coach in California. I didn’t want to spend money on a coach or let someone see how little I knew about writing a book, but I hired her. She gave me encouragement and accountability. She coached me to make each revision. Four months later, I flew to New York, presented the new manuscript and the agent signed me. We’re still friends, fifteen years later.
I understood then that just like hiring a personal trainer or a business coach, that if I wanted success, I’d need support. I saw such miraculous results when I started working with an editor and then a writing coach that I went back for my masters degree in creative writing and editing and trained a team of editor-coaches: amazing, brilliant, professionals who brought both skills into one place for our clients.
By hiring a coach, you gain a trusted partner who will support you every step of the way. Their mentorship will bring out the best in your work and have you navigating the writing process with confidence, increasing your chances of achieving bestseller status.
Want us to help you write your bestseller?
Writing a bestseller is an ambitious journey that demands dedication, strategic planning, and effective marketing. The journey is not only about reaching the destination but also about enjoying each step along the way. Embrace the joy of storytelling, the thrill of connecting with readers, and the satisfaction of honing your craft. Everything I wanted opened up as soon as I published that first book. The adventure has taken me to Oprah, The New York Times, the TEDx stage, and more.
Join me live every Monday for an online show like this one, answering your questions live and helping you break through your writing challenges!