Every author wants it: to be a New York Times Best Seller. Having this title means that you’ve made it. You have created a work of art that has captivated hundreds of thousands of people who love your plot, characters, and journey. Less than 5% of writers become serious authors. And just 5% of those authors become Best Sellers. However, this doesn’t mean that the journey is impossible, or that you that you should give up on your dreams. It just means that it might take more time than you might’ve originally thought. It takes something that you know well by know–dedication.
Listen to Your Beta Readers
You’re the author, and that means that you know best…right? Sadly, that isn’t always true. You’re so close to the characters that you aren’t always able to distinguish what the character needs to do next. As a result, your characters will end up making rash, biased decisions just to drive the plot into the next point. For your readers, this will make them feel out-of-touch with the characters and feel pushed from the plot. That’s why it is so important to listen to your beta readers. Take their feedback and use it. If they tell you they were bored during the climax of your novel, that’s a huge red flag and you should rework the climax. If your beta readers don’t understand the motivation behind the main character, rework it. Your beta readers will provide vital information that could move your novel into the best selling list.
Always Carry a Notebook
You know the feeling. You’re sitting at your child’s birthday party, and something happens so perfectly that you immediately connect it back to the story that you’re writing. You want to write it down but there’s nowhere to write. You grab the napkin with the smallest amount of cake smeared on the corner, and you scribble down your vision. And the napkin gets thrown away during the party cleanup. Authors often get seemingly random spikes of vision where they can see the scene clearly, almost vividly, in their minds. If you’re carrying a notebook, you’ll always have a way to write down your inspirations.
Read Just as Much as You Write
There are two ways that you can become a better writer: you can write more, and you can read more. Most authors learn their styles by reading the good works that other authors write. You write the same things that you’re reading. If you read trash, you’re likely to write trash. To become a bestseller, read other best selling novels. Find out what they’re doing that you could change. This isn’t to say that you should mimic them completely. Find your own voice, but use other best sellers as reference points. Mimic the pacing of their novels and change their voice into your own personal style. A lot of great novels actually started as fanfiction.
Understand the Why of Marketing
Sadly, a huge part of writing a best selling novel is marketing. You could write a phenomenal novel, but if you don’t get it out into an audience, who’s going to read it? As an author, you need to have marketing intelligence. Understand the pros and the cons of publishing on your own, and publishing with an agent. If you’re publishing with an agent, they will take care of the marketing side of the business. However, if you’re self-publishing, you will have to be the editor, the marketer, and the publisher of your novel (that also means that you’ll gather all of the revenue).
To be a bestseller novelist, you need to be prepared to spend a significant amount of time working through your novel. By the end of the process, you’ll be well-acquainted with revisions and editing. You might even need a break from writing. But, the hard work and dedication will pay off and you will work your way into writing a New York Times Best-Seller.
Devin is a book enthusiast who enjoys a successful career in marketing. He loves helping others and sharing his experiences with others by writing in his free time when he’s not working, traveling, or spending time with his young family.