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How Do I Write a Bestseller?

When you find out, let me know! The truth is that it’s not the writing that really matters; it’s the publication, marketing, and advertising that makes the real difference.

Even if you wrote the literary equivalent of The Da Vinci Code, which sold more than 80 million copies worldwide, you would still live in obscurity without either the right backing or the right self-made promotions. It can be done though; consider the case of Andy Weir.

Andy grew up like the rest of us, obsessed with science-fiction and living a normal life in Milpitas, California. At a young age, he fell in love with science-fiction and decided he wanted to become an author. His path to success was riddled with failure, but he persevered.

From his humble beginnings of publishing stories on his website, he eventually achieved fame and fortune. If you’re not familiar with Andy Weir, read The Martian. In 2011, he wrote The Martian which became an overnight box-office success as a movie starring Matt Damon in 2015. What author wouldn’t want their book to become a movie directed by the incredible Ridley Scott?

The point here is, we shouldn’t forget Andy’s humble beginnings. After posting stories on his website for years, he failed to publish his first novel, Theft of Pride. Not giving up on his dream, he published The Martian in 2011 through a serial on his website and then, at readers’ requests, through Amazon for just 99 cents for the Kindle edition.

His story is a prime example of what we authors should be shooting for, but how do we get there?

It’s all about the right time, the right place, and the right people. Just because we scroll through our rejection notices with dismay and humiliation, does not mean it’s over. You have to fight for your dreams! Here are a few suggestions that might help you do that:

1. Never give up!

One acceptance letter is all it takes! In the meantime, self-publish to get your name out there, establish a following, and earn a little money to support your passion. Don’t be defeatist; if one book fails to do well, write a better one.

2. Write, write, and keep writing.

The more material you have, the better. A lot of authors these days take an idea and turn it into a book series. That is one good way to keep forging ahead. You should always be working on something.

3. Consider becoming a hybrid author.

A hybrid author sells self-published works while pursuing a contract with a major publishing house. Once given a contract, they transition out of self-publishing and let their publishers deal with all the logistics.

4. Never count out anyone that you might meet.

You never know who might have connections to the publishing or film industry. In casual interactions with strangers, I have met podcasters, bloggers, influencers, actors, graphic artists, and even editors. Introduce yourself and make friends wherever you go; they might end up playing a role in your success or, at the least, they could become regular readers.

5. Promote, promote, promote!

Use every resource you can find to make your work public and gain recognition. It is not enough to write a good book; you have to get the word out about it and generate interest. Promote your work on all of your social media platforms, start a blog or a podcast, pay websites for promotions and start a word-of-mouth campaign. Book signings at libraries or bookstores are another great way to promote your work.

Personally, I have yet to hit the bestseller’s list. To do so, at least in The New York Times, requires 5,000 or more purchases in a one-week period. If you can afford advertisements all over Times Square, then maybe that’s easily achievable for you. Like most of you though, I have to grind for my sales. Maybe one day I’ll see my name (and yours) on the bestseller’s list or in the author credit of a movie.

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