The Real Secrets of Bestselling Books

Everywhere a writer turns, it’s platform, marketing, social media. And don’t forget “bestseller!” I’ve come across more webinars, podcasts or video that claim to tell me the secrets of writing a bestseller. Automatically, my slam-your-nose-in-the-door salesperson skepticism kicks in.
Writing Tip for Today: Think about this. You know darn well, that when you read “lose 50 pounds by next week!” that the advertisers are targeting not only your flabby abs but also your ego and sense of fantasy. The same is probably true for the come-ons aimed at writers. Let’s take a look at the pros and cons of buying into the hype about bestsellers.

  • Bestselling Blather. Every book cannot be a bestseller unless the reading world changes overnight. Every runner cannot win a race (unless you’re in second grade where everyone receives a ribbon). Why do we think we can “learn the secrets” of bestselling books? Ever notice how these secrets (especially the EASY secrets) always seem to be a lot of hard work? Well that’s because they are hard work.
  • The Long Haul. On the other hand, if as an author, you implement and work hard at at least a few of these “secrets,” your sales and name recognition are bound to increase. So even if your book falls short of “bestseller” status, you have played the game to the best of your ability and have moderate success. Over time, your efforts should grow, giving you more benefit than if you sat in a corner wringing your hands.
  • Follow the Money. Be realistic. The more moolah you pump into your writing career, the more likely you’ll be to be successful. One writer I know channels every penny she makes from writing back into her writing. This might mean hiring a publicist, traveling to trade shows or conferences or taking out ads. If we are what we eat, then we must also be what we can afford.
  • Take Advantage of Free or Almost-free. If you’re like this writer, you have exactly two cents for marketing. Maui is out again this year. But I try to take advantage of what is free or nearly free. Social media (for those of you still agonizing over whether to blog, etc) is the single biggest free gift of advertising writers have seen since quills and pens went out of fashion. Get with it and learn how to use them. Use them.
  • Tame Your Ego. Let’s face it, we all secretly dream of getting that Oprah call. When ads about becoming a bestseller are in your face, try not to forget your own mortality. If you do succeed at authoring a bestseller, remember the initials are BS.

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About Linda S. Clare

I'm an author, speaker, writing coach and mentor. I teach both fiction and nonfiction writing at Lane Community College and in the doctoral program as expert writing advisor for George Fox University. I love helping writers improve their craft and I'm both an avid reader and writer of stories about those with wounded hearts.

2 comments on “The Real Secrets of Bestselling Books

    • Ann, I confes I get a bit annoyed with so many ads that claim they can make anybody a bestseller. You are so right–we do the best we can. And leave the rest to God.

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