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Thursday, March 25, 2010

GET PUBLISHED NOW: Alchemy of a Bestseller

Get Published Now with Beth Barany

You may think that writing a nonfiction bestseller is hard. But actually, a nonfiction bestseller is easy to create and sell, but not simple. If you just put into place a few key aspects, then you will have a book your audience can’t wait to buy.

What is a bestseller? A client asked me that today. And like many things in art and alchemy, I said, “That depends.”

The numbers in this week’s bestsellers lists (The New York Times, USA Today, Wall St. Journal, Amazon, etc.) are based on how many books sold this week, the season, the market, and the genre. For more on how bestsellers list actually work, check out this article, reprinted on my blog, "From Book to Bestseller: What it Takes to Crack the List (and why you might not want to).” And this article, “Getting on the Bestseller Lists” from the Midwest Book Review, an excerpt from one of Dan Poynter’s reports.

Essentially, a bestseller is created by selling the most books that day, in the case of amazon, or that week, in the case of the rest of the lists. And these five characteristics.

#1: You need to care about your story.
Otherwise, why should I? Or if you don’t care, at least make me think you do. The fact that you show you care helps us, the reader care, too. No, I don’t have an example or quote here.

#2: You need an audience.
No audience. No book buyers. Know your audience. And make sure your audience buys books. The quick and dirty way to tell if there is an audience for your book idea is to search There should be at least 3-5 good selling or best-selling books in your topic. If there are no books, it may be a sign that there is no market.

I recommend a useful resource: The Wealthy Author: The Fast Profit Method for Writing, Publishing & Selling Your Non-Fiction Book by Joe Gregory and Debbie Jenkins. (I flipped through it while preparing for this article, and wanted to excerpt more, but couldn't pick from all the juicy and valuable content. So you may want to check it out for yourself.)

#3: More than just a good idea, you need a good story.
Humans learn best through story, so make sure you have all the elements of a good story in yours: death-gripping conflict, a hero (or heroes) you can root for, and love or sex. Yes, even in a nonfiction book. In a C-SPAN Book panel event, bestselling author, Simon Winshester said, “People above all love to read a good story.”

#4: You need to give people what they want, including clarity in the writing.
We need to understand you. Make sure you have a good editor. Do your readers want a solution to a problem, or help in achieving something? Whether it’s good looks, a better sex life, a better career, to make lots of money, or to calm their fears, make sure you give your specific audience what they want.

#5: You need to tell as many people as possible about your book. (That’s called marketing.)
Authors, shyness has no room in telling the world about your book. Start telling people as soon as you commit to your book. And build your list now, so you can let everyone know when your book is available.

I researched on this article by googling "the anatomy of a bestseller." But what I discovered is that creating a bestseller is more alchemy than anatomy. (Thanks to Simon Winchester’s publicist for this reference.) I discovered that your job, as an author, is to make sure these five factors are in place, and to use your resources, your friends, and your absolute commitment to your book to make your book, a bestseller.

What can you do to make your book a bestseller?

c. 2010 Beth Barany

Author, speaker and coach, Beth Barany, can be found raving about books, authors, and the ever-changing publishing and book marketing world at, Facebook and LinkedIn.

For more information, please visit Beth's TNNW Bio.


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