The Bestseller Formula—Part 1: A How-To For Writers
If the thought of writing a book has ever crossed your mind, then you may have wondered about the bestseller formula that consistently lands authors on big-name lists.
It’s not that big of a secret—it just comes down to your approach and the process you follow to write a bestseller.
It Starts With an Idea
What are you going to write about?
This is the question that all aspiring (and experienced) writers continuously ask themselves. Ideas may come to you quickly or you may have trouble deciding on one specific topic.
The good news is that you can write about anything. Even if your ideas seem all over the place, write them down because, among the confusion, there could be a gem.
An Existing Idea
Some people walk around for months or even years with an idea in their head for a novel or non-fiction book. If this describes you, then you already have a good direction for your project.
Your idea could stem from personal experience, in-depth knowledge, or even a story you have been telling other people.
Wherever the roots of your current concept come from, take time to think about it carefully. Flesh it out so that you understand it better and can turn it into a viable book.
Formulating a New Idea
Alternatively, you could be part of a group that has no idea what they want to write about. The only thing you know is that you want to write a book of some kind. You already have the drive to do it; now you need the topic.
Luckily, there are many ways to find your perfect niche.
First, decide whether you want to write fiction or non-fiction.
For non-fiction books, explore some of the following areas to help come up with an idea:
- Make a list of your interests and hobbies.
- Consider your expertise, career, and personal experiences.
- Think about what you want to teach other people.
If fiction appeals more to you, then the following may help:
- Reflect on your favorite genres.
- Consider storylines or tropes that you associate with.
- Decide whether you want a hero or villain to be the lead character.
Take a Step Back
Whether you’ve decided on a topic or not, it’s worth taking a step back for a moment. There are some other things to consider, which will help solidify your idea or assist you with getting a better grasp on it.
Firstly, why do you want to write a book?
There could be any number of reasons and none of them are right or wrong.
It could be that you want to share some knowledge from experiences you have built up over the years. Maybe, you want to show people a new way of doing things.
Writing a manuscript could simply be something you have wanted to do all your life and now seems like the right time. In contrast, you might just want to have some fun with a story that you think readers will love.
Becoming an Authorpreneur
A big reason to write a book is to become an authorpreneur.
It’s an opportunity to make passive income that supplements your main income. Over time, you could become a successful author with your books supporting your entire income.
Something like this could happen with a single bestselling book or several books, even a series, which adds up to a proper income.
Finding Your Ideal Reader
A further reason to take a step back is to reflect on who you are writing for. You must know and understand your audience to ensure that your writing appeals to them.
It also makes it easier to tell a story or convey information that will resonate with your readers.
The video below sheds more light on how to identify your perfect audience:
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Plot It Out
The previous two sections are the foundation of your bestselling idea. Now, you must add in some more details to get you ready for the writing stage.
Right now, you must focus on creating an outline.
Coming up with a book idea, setting goals, and identifying your target audience are the first steps to creating an outline, so congratulations! You’ve already started the hard work.
Based on these things, you can now add more details to an outline, regardless of whether you are writing fiction or non-fiction.
At this stage, think about the message you want to send, the tone and style that is most suitable, and what you want the audience to remember after reading the book.
Getting Your Story Straight
If fiction is your forte, then a large part of your outline will revolve around different characters, tropes, and plots.
As you plan, build different characters carefully. Give them a personality, flaws, and good characteristics. Learn about their backstory, so that each person shines.
Explore different tropes and storylines until you find one that works for you. Don’t be too rigid though, as the story might unfold differently than you may have thought.
Fleshing Out the Subject Matter
Non-fiction writers must also plan thoroughly. Once you’ve decided on a topic and audience, ensure that these concepts align with each other.
Next, you must plan what you are going to discuss in the book and how you will spread this information out across different chapters.
Ensure that each chapter discusses a main idea or theme within your wider idea. Give the audience enough information that they can confidently apply the lessons in their own lives.
Time to Write
The outline is done, and you are ready to put pen to paper, or in modern times, fingers to keyboard. Whichever method you prefer to use is fine; the most important thing is that you get those first words written.
A Bit of a Mess
When you just start writing your book, you will be busy with a first draft. It could seem messy but that doesn’t matter.
Even if you think the writing sounds ugly or that it’s filled with spelling and grammar mistakes, it doesn’t matter. Right now, you just need to write. All those things will be sorted out later.
Choose Any Starting Point
Start writing the part that you feel most inspired by. Just because an introduction comes first in a book doesn’t mean you have to begin with that.
Find what inspires you and let your inspiration spread from there. It could be the final chapter, a specific scene of a romance novel, or a familiar section of a self-help book.
Revising Your Writing
Once you have finished your first draft, it’s time to make some changes.
Leave the manuscript alone for a couple of days, then go over it again. Find any areas that are superfluous, elaborate on sections that could do with more detail, or add entirely new parts.
This process can repeat itself several times.
You might even get friends or family members to read through the document. Their feedback can help you improve your manuscript.
Let Go of Perfection
Many authors have a notion that they will take their book to the next stage when it is perfect. The reality is that your manuscript will likely never be perfect enough for you.
There will always be something you want to add, take away, or that just doesn’t “seem right.”
Knowing this is the case from the start makes it much easier to let go of imperfections. It’s much better to draw a line in the sand for when you will move your book into editing, be it after a certain number of drafts or by a specific date.
It’s likely that you will be self-publishing the book, which means you will release it onto book platforms (and even print copies) on your own, instead of using a publishing house.
This process is easier than it seems, but you must do some research and prepare your manuscript for success.
Edit the Manuscript
Editing is essential to smooth out any spelling, grammar, and sentence structure issues.
Although you can do this yourself, editing requires more than knowledge about the language you are writing in.
Choosing a professional editor instead of self-editing can make a big difference. Readers and book platforms may perceive your book as much better when it has gone through thorough editing.
Understand Formatting Requirements
Book platforms, such as Amazon, have requirements when it comes to books. They want the manuscript to be formatted in a certain way so that it displays correctly on eReaders.
The formatting requirements can be found on the platform itself or with an internet search. Ensure your book is formatted correctly before you push it to market.
Doing so prevents your manuscript from being rejected unnecessarily. It also gives you peace of mind that your book will be easy to use for readers.
The Bestseller Formula Continues
To write a bestseller requires much more than just writing and editing a book.
The process doesn’t stop here. Your book is ready, but now you must take it to the next level.
We’ll reveal how to do this in Part 2.In the meantime, look at our fiction and non-fiction packages so that you can get started on your writing.