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Tips on How To Easily Write A Bestseller

Papi_SoñolientoPapi_Soñoliento Southern Escarpment Hill Country Librarian

Tips on ‘How To Easily Write A Bestseller’ for new writers.


If you want to easily write the next novel to take the world by storm then you need to Get Very Lucky, as in go to Las Vegas with $5 and leave with $10,000,000 lucky or get struck by lightning ten times in one day and survive with no ill effects lucky. Otherwise, there is no easy path because most people just aren’t that lucky.

The reality is simple, writing (like most fields of endeavor) takes work and practice. The people who make it big with their first novel are rare – the truth is the majority of writers make their living by other means. Long story short, if you’re getting into writing in order to make a lot of money in a hurry then you need to try something else. For those who aren’t looking to get-rich-quick, the following might help.


Persistence really helps.


I’m a Baby Boomer, meaning my parents came of age during and just after the Great Depression. When I was young my parents managed to take a dump on every childhood dream I had with the advice to find something that paid actual money. My older brothers were encouraged to get as far in college as possible (they both hold PhD papers) while I got told I was on my own. I haven’t starved to death which indicates I figured out (long ago) how to keep body and soul together while I puttered at writing when and if the muse actually landed in my vicinity. The work I have released to date may not be earth shattering, but said work also isn’t being used in lieu of toilet paper in a developing country.


Patience is a must.


As in most fields, people can tell when work has been rushed. Take your time and get it right works with medicine, writing, cooking, ad nauseum. Most people don’t want to pay for a book that is unreadable any more than they want to pay for inedible food, a botched medical operation, a deck that collapses, or a roof that leaks. A book that is well written does not happen overnight.


Learn the basics.


Writing is about so much more than sitting down and pounding a keyboard, rushing to publish, then getting paid. If English was a subject you avoided in school, crack open the books. Some rules of grammar can be skirted with a fair level of impunity, others can’t. Spelling is less forgiving. If need be, get a thesaurus, a dictionary, and read some articles on what is versus what isn’t a problem when it comes to writing.


Recognize limitations.


Creativity and talent varies by the individual. There are people with a Master’s or PhD in Literature who can’t write a book worth reading. There are people with no more than a third-grade education who can spin a story that captivates an audience for hours. The difference lies in the individual and creative writing classes can never completely replace the individual’s innate ability. Passion to do something is nice, but having the innate ability to do something makes a world of difference.


Learn how to format.


If you plan to have someone else format your work for publication expect to spend some money, otherwise learn how it’s done. The font that works for an e-book may not work so well for a print book. The page format for an e-book doesn’t work for a print book and vice versa. There are nuances to paragraph spacing and indention as well as font size and compression. There are plenty of resources on this site to help, and many authors willing to offer advice.


Learn the difference between critique and criticism.


Many people confuse critique for criticism. A critique is a detailed analysis and assessment of something whereas criticism is an expression of disapproval based on perceived flaws and / or mistakes. Writers can expect to have their work critiqued and criticized. An honest critique can help polish a book into a salable form while criticism may simply be due to someone’s personal taste. When an award-winning author (with multiple published books) offers me a critique, I listen and take notes. When a random stranger criticizes my work I take said criticism with a grain of salt. Accept that you can’t please everyone and move on while learning from the critique of your peers.


Find someone unrelated to read the work.


Beta readers come in all forms. I could ask a close relative to read my work and the first thing I’d hear would be: “This is the worst piece of S**T I ever laid eyes on.” If one of my siblings wants to read my work, they can pay for it. I think I already mentioned my parents and their ability to take a dump on dreams and aspirations. At any rate, I prefer letting strangers read my work when in the alpha (rough draft) or beta (somewhat edited) stages. I’ve had readers in China, South Africa, the UK, Brazil, and the US and I’ve gotten some good feedback. There are numerous places to find willing Betas, all it takes is a web-search.


All the preceding verbiage out of the way, perhaps you’ll be one of the lucky ones with the right book at the right time.

Perhaps one of the fora moderators will pin this so those authors who have done well with their offerings can offer their advice where it can be readily found by those aspiring writers new to the site. I know others have written about the preceding points multiple times, but those older posts do tend to get lost. I’ve also noted the frustration of people who know how to get it done having to repeat the same thing umptysquidlyzillion times.


  • Ron MillerRon Miller Professor

    I might add that it helps to be original. There is no real need for yet one more Harry Potter clone, or another urban vampire novel or the eleventy-thousandth zombie epic. Try to come up with something new. Don't be another JK Rowling, be the next JK Rowling. Most best-selling novels have explored new ideas and themes. Needless to say, an author with a recognizable name can get away with ringing endless changes on well-established themes---but at some time even they had to have had a first best-seller...and that occurred more often than not because they came up with something wholly original.


    I took a look a few minutes ago at some of the authors in the Algonquin Books catalog. Algonquin is one of the major, and most prestigious, publishers of fiction in the US. Many of their authors had their first books published through them (and they continue to publish new authors)...and almost invariably these books explored original themes or ideas. And even for the publisher's established authors, their books are original in every way and not rehashes of what is currently popular. These include such recent titles as The Lost History of Stars, The Leavers, Security, The Atomic Weight of Love and many others. in the past, Algonquin has published Water for Elephants and Big Fish, again books notable for their originality.

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