how to write a bestseller

How To Write a Best Seller and Become a Bestselling Author

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Learn how to write a best seller and become a bestselling author with these book writing and book marketing tips to boost sales of your book.

So, you want to write a bestseller? It’s one thing to write a book. It’s an entirely different thing to write a bestseller or a must-read book that’s a saleable, viable, marketable product.

Ensuring the success of a book is something that even the biggest publishers have never been able to guarantee unless you’re a celebrity or famous person.

Mitigating circumstances, flash trends, and world events will all affect buyer preferences. That said, there are still ways to leverage your book sales factor in your favor and learn how to write a bestseller.

How do Books Become Bestsellers?

Books become bestsellers for a variety of reasons. Sometimes, it is the author’s previous work that makes the book a bestseller.

Other times, it is because the book is based on a popular movie or TV show. Sometimes, it even has to do with what time of year or day the book was released.

A bestselling book is recognized for its exceptional sales performance; and it is thought that you need to sell at least 5,000 books in a week, and possibly as many as 10,000, in order to get on any bestseller list.

However, you can get your book on a bestseller list by selling far fewer copies in some best-selling eBook categories, on online booksellers like Amazon.

kindle bestseller list

Many newspapers, periodicals, and large book chains issue bestseller lists, some of which are segmented by categories and genre (best-selling novels, nonfiction best-sellers, best-selling self-help books, best-selling cookbooks, etc.).

Here are some bestseller lists you may want to learn more about. Getting your book on one or more of these bestseller lists can significantly help increase book sales and boost your author branding:

#1. The New York Times best sellers list

The New York Times bestseller list is a list of the best-selling books in the United States. It is published weekly in The New York Times Book Review and in The New York Times Magazine.

The New York Times best-selling books list has been published since April 9, 1942, and is currently compiled by The New York Times Company.

Also known as the “NYT Best Sellers List,” it is based on reporting from booksellers across the United States, as well as on sales from major online retailers (including and traditional bookstore chains such as Barnes & Noble.

However, the New York Times best-seller lists may be easy to game, as they are known to have little correlation with actual market sales.

#2. The USA TODAY bestseller list

Every week, USA TODAY’s bestselling books list rates the top 150 book titles based on sales data from American booksellers.

Contributors come from a range of businesses, including mass merchandisers, independent bookstores, chain bookstores, and online merchants.

There are a number of requirements your book must meet to be considered a USA TODAY best seller. Only U.S. sales and pre-orders of paid books count towards book sales, including solo books and box sets.

The book must sell at least 6,000 copies in a single week, over 500 of which must be from a book retailer other than Amazon.

best seller

#3. The Washington Post best sellers list

According to this article, the Washington Post compiles its bestseller lists by combining hardcover, paperback, and eBook sales data from Nielsen Bookscan and – including qualified borrows of Kindle best sellers read through Amazon’s digital subscription program.

#4. The Publishers Weekly bestsellers list

The Publishers Weekly bestseller list pulls its data from the Nielsen service, BookScan, which is the industry standard and the service most publishers use to track their competitors’ sales.

#5. The Amazon best sellers’ books list

Amazon’s best-selling books are the most popular books on Amazon. In order to land on the Amazon bestsellers list, a book needs to have more reviews and ratings than other books in its category.

The Amazon sales rank is calculated by taking into account both the number of reviews and the average rating. A book that has 5 stars and 10 reviews will appear higher than a book with 4 stars and 5 reviews, even if it has fewer total sales.

best selling books of all time

How to Write a Bestseller & Become a Bestselling Author

If you want to learn how to write a bestseller or a must-read book that you know will sell, these book marketing tips will help you become a bestselling author, by tilting the scales in your favor and boosting sales for your book.

#1. Know your readers

We’re not just talking about whether your readers are male or female. You’ll want to know the most pertinent facts about your audience; such as how old your readers are (age range); are they married, single, or divorced?

You may also want to find out where your readers generally live, what they do for a living, and what other books and publications they read.

This will help you develop a reader profile that includes where they shop, what clubs they belong to, and other facts that will help you market your book to the right demographic.

Knowing your ideal readers will help you understand what they’re looking for and incorporate these aspects into your book and book promotions to unearth salient marketing opportunities with publications, stores, and advertisements.


#2. Know your market

During the COVID-19 pandemic, many people rediscovered a love of reading, and sales of fiction books grew, despite bookshops being closed. While the market for books is only increasing, you need to know what the market is like for the book you plan to write.

Before you start writing, take the time to delve into the market for your genre or niche.  This research phase is crucial for several reasons:

Identifying Popular Themes and Styles:

What do you know about trends related to your book, topic, or audience? Look at the current bestseller lists in your genre to identify the themes, styles, and tropes that are currently popular.

This can give you insights into what readers are looking for and help you tailor your book to meet those expectations.

Analyzing Reader Reviews:

Reading reviews of bestselling books in your genre can provide valuable feedback on what readers liked or disliked about these books.

Pay attention to common themes or elements that resonate with readers, as well as areas where readers felt the book could have been improved.

Spotting Trends and Gaps:

By analyzing bestseller lists and reader reviews, you can also identify any emerging trends or gaps in the market. Is there a trend you’re positioning yourself toward? What’s the future of this market or topic?

Are you reading all the publications related to this topic or trend?  This could be a specific sub-genre that is currently underserved or a unique twist on a popular theme that hasn’t been explored yet.

Are there any gaps out there that your book could fill? Identifying these gaps can help you position your book uniquely in the market.

Understanding Your Target Audience:

Researching the market also involves understanding your target audience’s preferences, demographics, and reading habits.

What sort of content does your ideal reader read? Do they prefer print, eBooks, or listening to audiobooks instead? This can help you tailor your book’s content, tone, and marketing strategy to appeal to your ideal readers.

Standing Out in the Market:

By understanding the competitive landscape and reader preferences, you can ensure that your book offers something unique and compelling.

This could be a fresh perspective, a unique storytelling approach, or a new take on a popular genre. Standing out in the market is key to attracting readers and achieving bestseller status.

Overall, researching the market before writing your book can help you create a more targeted and marketable product. By understanding what readers are looking for and how your book can fulfill those needs, you can increase your chances of success as an author.

#3. Research similar books

What else has been published on your topic? Who is the No. 1 best-selling author in your genre? Have you read all the top best-selling books in your category?

If you haven’t, you should. Read your competitor’s books, and the reviews, too. You want to know everything you can about the bestselling books that are similar to yours, and how they’re perceived in the marketplace.

It is never a problem to have a topic similar to that of your competitors. When I published my bestselling eBook, Be The Expert, I knew there were other books on personal branding, but I angled my book differently and kept it as simple as possible to appeal to beginners.

Amazon’s best-selling books are the top sellers in their respective categories. Browsing and reading the top-selling books on Amazon in your genre is a good way to find out what people want and what they like the most about the top-selling books.

However, using book research tools like the ones below is an easier way to find competitive insights that offer revenue metrics, keywords, competitor research, book tracking, and more at your fingertips.

Publisher Rocket is an author research tool that provides real-time data on what Amazon book buyers type into Amazon and how many people search for these keywords each month.

Also, if you want to be successful in the market for a long time, you need to keep an eye on how well your book is selling and closely look at how other authors are doing and these tools will help you do that.

how to write a bestselling book

#4. Stay current on trends

What’s going on in your industry today? What are some hot buttons? What sort of stories are people looking for? What’s next on the horizon for this topic or audience?

Check Google Trends to see if you notice a specific trend in searches. Is there some topic that seems to be getting more buzz? What are the hot topics your audience may be interested in?

Survey your target audience if you can’t find this information through traditional channels. You can use several survey tools to run free surveys to understand what book topics will meet your reader’s expectations.

Publisher Rocket’s book research tools will tell you in real time what Amazon book buyers type into Amazon and how many times these keywords are searched for every month.

This tool will also help you carefully select the best Amazon book categories and choose the right keywords to build a strong product detail page with a high conversion rate leading to more book sales.

Because of Amazon’s latest category change, 27 percent of shoppable categories are now hidden from view. Also, books in these areas can’t be put on lists or become bestsellers.

This means that many writers’ books aren’t selling as well as they had thought, and more writers need to know how to avoid “ghost categories” so they can keep selling books.

books sellers

#5. Follow the media

What’s the media talking about these days? Keep track of media buzz and know what they’re paying attention to. Research Google News to see what reporters are writing about in your field of expertise.

Whether you’re writing a fiction or non-fiction book, staying abreast of current trends will help you understand what sort of books, stories, and topics are more likely to capture the zeitgeist or mood of the day.

For example, a century after World War 2, stories of that era may become very popular with those interested in learning about the history and events of the 20th century.

Once you find a topic that seems to be getting popular, you can leverage it in your book or book promotions to sell more books.

book publishing

#6. Talk, teach, listen

When I was putting together my book, Creating Brand YOU, I found that the personal branding workshops I taught provided valuable insights for creating a useful book because they helped me understand my ideal readers better.

I discovered that one of the best ways to get in touch with my audience and understand their pain points was to teach a class or workshop on my topic.

This helped me connect with my audience directly and understand the solutions they were looking for so I could write a book that offered a step-by-step process to build a personal brand.

As another example, American author Julia Cameron’s self-help book, The Artist’s Way: A Spiritual Path to Higher Creativity, was based on a 12-week creativity course designed for people to work through and gain artistic inspiration.

It sold millions of copies worldwide and went on to reach the Top 10 best seller list, the list of the Top 100 Best Self-Help Books of All Time, as well as the Self-Publishing Hall of Fame.

Book Writer

#7. Study the craft of writing

You don’t have to be Hemingway to sell books, but you need good writing skills and the ability to string words into coherent sentences.

If you need help to sort and organize your thoughts, and even get ideas for your book, you can find book writing software that will help you get organized.

You can find a wealth of writing courses to improve your writing skills, such as these creative writing classes online to help you learn how to write a best-selling novel or non-fiction book.

You can also learn how to write a bestselling book with these MasterClass writing courses by top-selling writers and authors of best-selling books.

Having the ability to write well will make it much easier to get that book written. If you speak better than you write, you can dictate your book and use transcription apps to transcribe the audio into text.

write a bestseller

#8. Get book writing help

If you want your book to have the best chance of landing on a book best-seller list, it helps to be published by a major publisher that offers the highest advances.

Learn how to write the perfect nonfiction book proposal that sells your book to the five major publishers in the United States, known as the “Big Five”.

If you prefer one-on-one coaching to learn how to write and publish a best seller, you can get book coaching and book mentoring from an expert book writing coach and publishing consultant.

It also helps to hire a professional book editor to give you an objective manuscript critique and offer valuable advice on how to improve your book. Don’t try to do it all yourself; focus on writing your book and hire professionals or freelancers to do the rest.

#9. Build your author platform

Even before you finish writing your potential best-seller, you must start building an author platform by building your writer’s website on your own domain.

You should also start building a mailing list of eager readers, in anticipation of your book launch. You can do this by giving away free Kindle eBooks, a PDF with a book extract, or a free chapter from an upcoming book.

You can even get into the free Kindle eBook best sellers list and become a bestselling author by giving away free eBooks for Kindle, all while building your author brand and platform.

In bestselling author Nick Stephenson’s free Reader Magnets eBook, you’ll learn the exact system he used to add tens of thousands of engaged readers to his mailing list.

In his free video training for authors on “How to Find Your First 10,000 Readers,” he shows you a proven step-by-step system that he used to sell more books.

You’ll learn how to grow your audience on autopilot, launch your new book titles to raving fans, and promote your existing work to new people so you can sell more books.

top seller

#10. Create a book launch plan

Don’t wait until after you’ve published your book to work on your book promotions, or create a book marketing strategy to increase sales.

In a market glutted with books, you need to plan ahead and have a book launch plan to help you release your masterpiece successfully.

Are you planning to release your book around a holiday or anniversary? Could you take advantage of an upcoming event for your book launch? Creating a book launch plan can increase your chance of landing on best-seller book lists.

One pre-launch tip to get more book reviews is to send out Advance Reader Copies (ARC) – free promotional copies of your book – to bloggers and book reviewers.

If they post your book reviews on their blogs or review websites in advance, it will help create buzz around your book launch, and increase your chance of getting on a book best-seller list.

Share the events and buzz around your book launch party with your email subscribers. If it’s a nonfiction book, you can offer them bonuses (such as exclusive downloads, courses, etc.) for purchasing multiple copies for friends or employees.

Another way to make your book a bestseller is to partner with other authors who write in the same genre (e.g. science fiction, fantasy, romance, recipes) and offer to promote their books to your list, in exchange for promoting your upcoming book to their list.

To get your book onto the bestseller lists (5 to 10,000 sales a week), coordinate all these tasks and ensure they all happen within a short time frame immediately after your book is launched.

You can hire a virtual assistant to help you manage all these tasks (and preserve your sanity!) and even keep them on to continue your book promotions and keep the momentum going in the long term.

#11. Hire experts to promote your book

Your book is your product; it reflects your skills and expertise as a writer and expert. So, approach your book publishing venture as in any other business.

It pays to get expert help on your book cover, book content, and page design. Your book blurb, and the look and feel of your book cover, are the most critical elements, as they will influence book sales.

Here are some book marketing tips to help you promote your book for long-term sales:

Hire a professional book cover designer who can design stunning, high-quality book covers in your genre, to help your book stand out in bookstores and online marketplaces.

Send out a press release announcing your book launch, and work with your media contacts to get it published in as many major publications as possible.

☑ In this course on how to get featured on CNN, ABC, and NBC for free, you’ll learn how to craft stories and create events that can get you featured on major media outlets with no marketing budget.

☑ Reach out to influencers on TikTok’s book lover community, BookTok, and partner with them to get on their BookTok recommendations list.


☑ Once you have a bona fide bestseller to your name, reach out to influential book bloggers who publish lists of must-read novels, indie bestsellers, best-selling romance novels, etc., and ask/pay them to include your book in their blogs.

☑ Join the Podcast Guest Connection Facebook Group that connects podcasters with guests. Offer to be a guest on relevant podcasts where you can talk about your book.

Hire a book marketing specialist to promote your book on book review and promotion websites; get it published in list posts, such as the top-selling books, or top 10 best-selling books in your genre.

☑ You can purchase book interview placements on online radio shows and podcasts, where the hosts will interview you and promote your book to their listeners.

☑ Remember that Amazon book advertising is not a magic bullet for sales, especially if you don’t know how to get impressions and conversions. So, hire someone to do it for you, as most books will not sell more than a few hundred copies without an advertising campaign.

Don’t let up on your book promotions after your book launch. You need to keep advertising and getting the word out to ensure your book sales don’t lose too much momentum and die out altogether.

8 Book Launches That Created Bestsellers

Imagine a world where the release of a book is not just an event but a global phenomenon, where readers eagerly await the stroke of midnight to get their hands on the latest literary masterpiece.

Creative book launches can generate buzz and capture the public’s attention creatively. These stories of book launches transcended the ordinary, captivating the world’s attention with their creativity and sheer brilliance.

#1. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J.K. Rowling (2007)

  • Midnight Magic: Picture the spectacle of midnight release parties at bookstores worldwide, turning the launch into a global extravaganza.
  • Mysterious Secrecy: The allure of secrecy, with J.K. Rowling’s “Keep the Secret” campaign, had fans on the edge of their seats, yearning to dive into the unknown.

#2. Go Set a Watchman by Harper Lee (2015)

  • The Element of Surprise: Imagine waking up one day to the news of a long-lost manuscript, and suddenly, the literary world is abuzz with the release of a sequel nobody saw coming.
  • A Controversial Storm: The controversy surrounding the release stirred the pot, drawing curious onlookers to witness this unique moment in literary history.

#3. The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins (2015)

  • Visual Vortex: Visualize the book’s striking black and red cover flooding social media, creating an irresistible visual identity.
  • Influencer’s Echo: The endorsement of influential bloggers and celebrities on social platforms turned this book into a must-read, all while building trust among potential readers.

#4. A Promised Land by Barack Obama (2020)

  • Virtual Odyssey: In a world gripped by a pandemic, Barack Obama embarked on a virtual book tour, transcending boundaries and reaching hearts through screens.
  • A Personal Connection: Imagine sharing intimate moments and reflections with one of the world’s most powerful leaders, making the launch feel like a fireside chat with a friend.

#5. The Testaments by Margaret Atwood (2019)

  • Global Synchrony: Envision the anticipation as the book was released simultaneously in multiple countries, a synchronized crescendo of excitement.
  • Activist Enigma: Activists donning “Handmaid’s Tale” costumes added a striking visual element, drawing attention to the book’s powerful themes.

#6. The Fault in Our Stars by John Green (2012)

  • Digital Rendezvous: Picture John Green’s vibrant presence on social media, forging connections with fans worldwide, and cultivating an ardent and engaged community.
  • Hearts and Causes: With charity partnerships, the book launch went beyond entertainment, aligning with a noble cause that inspired readers to join the movement.

#7. Becoming by Michelle Obama (2018)

  • The Michelle Odyssey: Visualize Michelle Obama’s captivating book tour, featuring high-profile interviews and appearances that captured the essence of her remarkable journey.
  • Personal Echo: The book’s fusion of personal stories and political insight touched the hearts of readers, making it a cultural milestone.

#8. Dune by Frank Herbert (1965)

  • Serial Spellbinding: Imagine the thrill of reading “Dune” in serialized form, eagerly awaiting each installment in “Analog” magazine.
  • The Quiet Revolution: With glowing reviews and fervent word-of-mouth, this novel quietly became a cultural touchstone, leaving an indelible mark on literature.

These book launches are tales of marketing genius and epic sagas of creativity, connection, and the power of words. They remind us that books can be more than stories; they can be global phenomena that unite us in the magic of storytelling.

Here’s wishing you great success in writing a best-selling book and becoming a bestselling author!

Book Publishing Tips & Tutorials

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© 2021 – 2024, Priya Florence Shah. All rights reserved.

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