What you need to know about best selling books

Every writer dreams of hitting the bestseller list.

Writer dreaming of writing a bestseller novel - Pixabay image

However, there are more books than M&Ms promising to show us the way. So which one do you pick? Well, I’ve got a good one you should consider reading.

 

I admit I picked up this book with a lot of trepidation. But I wasn’t disappointed and I don’t think you will be either.

The Bestseller Code: Anatomy of the Blockbuster Novel by Jodie Archer dissects best-selling books, explaining why readers devour them and producers gobble them up for the big screen.

In the Bestseller Code, Ms. Archer covers,

  • “Write what you know.” and it doesn’t mean if you were a plumber, to write about plumbing. But to put your experiences with love, anger, joy, loss, etc. into your stories.
  • To write everyday things into the story. Taking kids to school, cooking dinner, gossip at the water cooler. You get the idea. Helps readers relate to the characters, creating realism & relatability.
  • Add human closeness and connection for shared intimacy. Casual moments help readers see the characters as more than caricatures and more of themselves.
  • What will make a character come alive like Pinocchio after Geppetto’s wish comes true?
  • Incorporate nonverbal communication such as smiles, glances and other facial expressions.
  • Readers need to see and feel an emotional connection between your characters. And a story that elicits an emotional response.
  • Why Fifty Shades of Grey by E L James caught fire lighting up the bestseller list. Even with grammatical errors.
  • And what one book in the last 30 years, and hits all points in an algorithm as number one of bestselling novels. The title will surprise you. Click here for a sneak peek at the title- surprise.

If you want to understand the structure and writing tips that make up a bestselling novel, you need to read The Bestseller Code: Anatomy of the Blockbuster Novel by Jodie Archer.

My review: 

The eye-catching coral cover with enticing  subheadings lured this writer to open and read.  I read this book on the recommendation of my daughter. She loaned me her copy during our holiday. After reading, I bought my own copy because this is a must have for a writers library.  The writing style of the authors is engaging, informative and easy to understand. I discovered answers to several perplexing questions. This book delivers what is promised,  explaining the success of some books and the failure of others. The Bestseller Code receives 5 stars from this reader.

Have you ever wondered what makes a bestselling novel click with readers?

Have you scratched your head over books like 50 Shades?

Have you read The Bestseller Code?

Do you have a favorite “How to” book on writing?

 

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What is the best secret to writing something original?

Use a formula.

Yep, you heard me right. Sounds contradictory I know. Why? Because we are creatures of comfort and formulas work.

I mean, who doesn’t have a favorite comfort food, favorite chair, a feel-good movie, or book? We enjoy the familiar.

A genre formula is a writer’s best friend.

Sticking to a genre formula lets the reader know what to expect. You know what to expect when you pick up a book by Stephen King, Patricia Cornwell, James Patterson or Danielle Steel.

Putting your own unique spin, touch or style is what makes a reader recognize your uniqueness.

Sort of like spaghetti sauce. Everyone knows it’s made with tomatoes, meat, and spices. But how the cook puts it all together will determine the flavor.

Remember, how you execute a story is what makes it unique.

  • You (the cook) make the difference.
  • Different isn’t always a good thing.
  • Readers want genre fiction they recognize and a world they feel comfortable visiting.
  • A little originality goes a long way, too much can be unnerving, even disturbing to some people.
  • Genre formulas and templates are a writers friend. Like a recipe for a cook.
  • Know the formulas.

Even if you write in more than one genre, it’s important to know and understand the formulas.

You are the secret ingredient. 

Want to know more about genres? Click on the links below.

Okay, time to talk:

Which genre do you write?

Do you know and understand the formulas?

Do you use a template for your writing? Formula outline for the genre?

Are you comfortable with one genre over others?

What do you think?

Genre Writing and Formulas By Rob Parnell
Advice for New Authors: Five sure-fire ways to find your book’s genre By Helena Halme
How To Write A Bestseller – According To The Formula By Peter Winkler

 

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Do you think Bestseller lists have lost value?

Do you know what it means to be a bestselling author?

Well, for one thing, it may no longer mean a lot of books were sold. Think about that for a minute.

These questions, plus a few more, bounced around in my mind after reading a blog post on the Texas Authors website. (If you live in Texas be sure and check out this great organization.) Now back to the blog post that caught my attention.

Does Anybody Know What a Bestseller Is? By John Maher, with reporting by Rachel Deahl and Claire Kirch | Nov 03, 2017

The post pointed out something I’m sure most of us have noticed or read about, an overabundance of categories and subcategories on Amazon. You name it and the giant e-tailer most probably has a subcategory for the subject. Under Art & Photography, I counted 17 subcategories, one named Vehicle Pictorials. 

Before the gold rush of ebooks, there were two main categories for bestselling books—fiction and non-fiction. These two categories were broken down further into three major print formats—hardcover, trade paperback, and mass market paperback. The simplicity of this system made for easy tracking of bestselling books.

But then came ebooks, a new fourth category, and sold online. Online sales aren’t monitored or cataloged by brick-n-mortar stores, therefore, sales are not tracked in the same manner as print books.

 

While Amazon reports print sales, provided by Nielsen BookScan, it does not, for the most part, disclose sales of e-books. This sales number also does not include, sales to libraries, purchases by wholesalers such as Ingram, sales of used books, fulfillment by Amazon (FBA) sales or pre-orders—orders for a book before the book is released.

 

So who provides the most reliable guide for a bestseller list?

From John Maher’s article, I learned…

  • The two most transparent and reliable tracking organizations are:
    • NPD BookScan’s  and PW (Publishers Weekly) point-of-sale data, tracks 80%–85% of print sales in the country, but there again doesn’t (or can’t) track ebooks. Which, although good, provides an incomplete overall view.
  • Due to the number of lists, and Amazon’s decision not to share its e-book sales figures, it’s next to impossible identify what the top-selling books are across all formats in a particular week.
  • Which Bestseller lists carry weight with bookstores and readers?
  • I know it would stoke my ego, but having a book dubbed a “Bestseller” may not always translate into sales. Not like in the past. But what does translate into sales are:
    • Good reviews, coverage in high-profile media, and word-of-mouth.

Okay! I’ve got a few questions for you…

Do you think the term “Bestseller” or Bestselling Author” has become watered down by Amazon?

Do you believe it helps book sales? Print or ebook?

Did you know Amazon doesn’t report ebook sales?

Have you been disappointed after buying a book listed as a “Bestselling Novel?” (I have.)

Want to read more on the subject? Click on these posts!

Behind the Scam: What Does It Take to Be a ‘Best-Selling Author’? $3 and 5 Minutes.  By 

How Many Books Do You Need To Sell To Become A Bestseller?

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Do you know where to look?

For that next book idea?

There’s nothing new under the sun.

In other words, no new ideas. Even inventions are the result of a previous idea or invention. One thing always leads to another.

So where do other writers get their ideas?

They steal, from each other and everyone.

From movies, books, TV, newspapers (a great source for SF), or their great Aunt Fanny.

 

Remember, everything old is new again! That’s where.

I know, enough clichés. But you get the point. Click and read this terrific article about Michael Crichton and how he turned the ideas of others into best-selling books with his own twist.

HOW MICHAEL CRICHTON MINED CLASSIC LITERATURE TO WRITE MODERN SCIENCE FICTION 

Talk to me – I love comments.

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Now, how about you?

Have your ideas been sparked by a favorite movie or book?

Could you take a kernel from it and make it your own?

Keep Reading – More great articles ahead!

How To (Legally and Ethically) Steal Ideas 

Borrowing, Stealing, and Building Upon Other People’s Writing Ideas by

Why You Should Steal From Other Authors by K.M. Weiland