Sunday, January 12, 2014

What makes a book a best seller? #amreading #bestseller

The short answer is - you, the reader. You read a book, you love it, and you tell everyone you know that they HAVE to read it. Right?

But here's the long answer.

So you're an author and you've written a book and you think it's pretty darn good. How do you get it on a best seller list?

Well if you happen to have been published with a traditional publisher you likely have an agent. Your agent, and your publisher will help. They have a marketing team that will advertise your book in appropriate forums, they will contact critiques at various publications for reviews, they will help you set up personal appearances and book signings. Sure, you still have to work hard at marketing yourself too. It's in the best interest of all of you if your books sell. But even that doesn't guarantee you a best seller.

And getting a traditional pulishing contract isn't easy. Did you know that some of the best sellers of all time were rejected by traditional publishing houses?

  • Carrie by Stephen King was rejected 30 times.
  • Chicken Soup for the Soul was rejected 140 times.
  • Gone With The Wind by Margaret Mitchell was rejected by 38 publishers.

In spite of that, none of these folks gave up and look where they are now? But the traditional publishing world has grown even smaller and publishing houses are backing fewer unknown authors these days. Many times they are waiting for a self-published book to take off and become a best seller thanks to all the author's hard work and marketing, and then they swoop in and offer a publishing contract.

Look at Hugh Howey and his Wool series. A classic case in point.

But what if you are an unknown, self-published author? How do you become a best seller?

Well it doesn't happen over night. You write the best darn book you can. You get a professional quality cover and a good editor. You do blog tours and develop your own  marketing strategy. You may set up your own local book signings. You ask reviewers to read your book(s) and post reviews. You beg those who like your book to tell their friends, their family, their social media contacts and to leave reviews and you hope word of mouth gets you a few more readers.

And some days you get so disheartened that you feel like giving up. But you have a compulsion to write and you have a need to share your work - your blood, sweat and tears - the innermost workings of your mind -  with the world. And it's scary as hell. But then someone reads your book and they tell you they can't stop thinking about it - and it's all worth it. 

So you keep writing and you keep putting your work out there.

You aren't in it to become rich and famous. You just want your books to be read. Sure, money and fame would be nice, but you'd settle for selling enough books to at least pay for the production costs of the one you are working on next and you wouldn't mind making a little profit too.

Me? I hate marketing my books and myself. I find it exhausting and mostly futile.

There is very little likelihood I will ever have a best seller. I even have trouble getting reviewers to take a look at my books. Of course, I know my books are niche and that has a lot to do with it. They aren't for everyone.

But boy, wouldn't I love it if one day one of my books took off and shot to the top of the rankings! In the meantime, I will keep plugging away.

Take a look at my book tabs at the top of the page. If you are interested in reviewing either of them (on Goodreads/Amazon and anywhere else you want) - shoot me an email. 

I will gladly send you an ebook ARC (advanced reader copy) free in exchange for an honest review. And if you like it - tell all your friends, your family and your social media contacts, okay? I can use all the word of mouth I can get.

Maybe, just maybe, your review will help me make it to the best seller list one day. 

Want to help get the word out about my books? Please review them. 

Are you an author who is finding some success? Tell me what you've done that is working. 

Are you a reader that loves to get free books? Become a reviewer - reviewers hold more power than they know.


  1. Absolutely loved this post AB. Everything you wrote, I am feeling right now. I know I have a solid story, and the reviews prove it, but getting it out there and noticed is the hardest thing. I feel like quitting at times but then I read a post like this and I am hopeful, energized, and inspired.

    Thanks for posting!

    Joseph Forte - Where Words Come Alive
    At the Window

    1. Tell me (and your readers) about your book Joseph. Why don't you contact me and we can work out how you can share a little bit of your book and yourself with my readers - maybe you can write a guest post or share an excerpt. And thanks, because YOU just made the time and effort I put into writing this post worthwhile. :)