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5 Ways To Write a Bestselling Book

September 30, 2019

Maybe someday one of my books will be… aw, never mind.

If you are writing books, you probably want to sell them, and nothing sells better than a bestselling book.  There’s a lot of advice about how to become a bestselling author, things like genre selection and social media strategies and other stuff like that.  Most advice is vague, however, and writers need specific strategies.

I am NOT a bestselling author, just so you know, but I have studied bestselling authors and what they have done, and I have discovered five strategies that give you a much better chance of becoming a successful book writer.

1.  Become a celebrity.

A person can become a celebrity first and THEN write a book, such as Magnolia Table by Joanna Gaines or Born a Crime by Trevor Noah or even Becoming by Michele Obama.  A celebrity book is almost guaranteed to get sales.  Celebrities have fan bases who want to support the celebrity and give them money, even if the fans often don’t read the book.

A lot of writers don’t want to be celebrities, though.  A lot of writers just want to sell enough books to be able to keep writing books.  Most writers don’t want to be recognized in public and followed around and stalked.  For a lot of writers, being a celebrity sounds like a form of Hell.

I don’t even know what most famous writers look like anyway.  I might recognize Stephen King or James Patterson or George R.R. Martin if I saw them in public, but that’s about it.  That guy who wrote the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction winner or that woman whose first novel is being turned into a Netflix series, I don’t know what they look like, and they probably like it that way.

2.  Write a negative book about the President of the United States.

A writer can write a negative book about a current president.  It doesn’t even matter who the president is; a negative book automatically attracts readers who are mad that their side lost. The current president has inspired recent bestsellers like Fire and Fury by Michael Wolff and A Higher Loyalty by James Comey.  When Barack Obama was president, a bunch of bestsellers were books complaining about how horrible President Obama was.  A few of those writers didn’t even work for FOX News.

3.  Coauthor a book with James Patterson.

If James Patterson asks you to coauthor a book with him, you are guaranteed of becoming a bestselling author.  There’s a stigma to this because everybody knows that James Patterson’s name, not the quality of your writing, sold the book.  Readers might not know how much you wrote and how much James Patterson wrote.  Then again, most people who read James Patterson books don’t care about stuff like that.

James Patterson sells so many books that even famous people want to write books with him.  Former United States President Bill Clinton could have sold a bunch of books by himself, but he still coauthored The President Is Missing with James Patterson.  Having a former president write a political thriller with you might give your novel a little more credibility.

If I had a choice between writing a book with either James Patterson or Bill Clinton, I’d choose Bill Clinton, but I’d keep my wife and daughter away from him.

4.  Work for a major book publisher (while lying about having cancer).

An author can work as an editor/associate for a publishing company and then have that publishing company publicize the heck out of the author’s book (while also calling it “the next Gone Girl“), such as The Woman in the Window by A.J. Finn.  Yeah,  A.J. Finn (not his real name, but that’s okay) is now a famous writer, but everybody knows he lied about having cancer.  Most people would never think about lying about cancer, not even if it would help them to network and get a book deal.

Now the world knows how scummy A.J. Finn is for pretending that he was a cancer survivor.  At least, I think he’s pretty scummy.  All I’ve done is change my name a little bit and composited some people in my life.  And I admit that up front.

5.  Put profanity in the book title.

About ten years ago, some nobody wrote a book called Sh*t My Dad Says.  It became a bestseller and was successful enough to inspire a sequel and a television show.  The sequel failed because there wasn’t enough of the dad who says sh*t.  The television show failed because… I don’t know why because I didn’t watch it.

Kevin Smith, who wrote and co-starred in a bunch of popular movies in the 1990s, authored a book called Tough Sh*t, but it just annoyed everybody because he was a celebrity using profanity in a book title, which is either very desperate or very selfish.  A celebrity’s name should be enough to sell his or her book.

Several more recent bestselling authors have continued using this strategy.  You are a Badass by Jen Sincero is a lie because anybody who reads the book is not a badass because a true badass already knows he/she is a badass and doesn’t have to read the book.  Another recent book, The Subtle Art of not Giving a F*ck by Mark Manson, is a lie because the author obviously gives a f*ck; otherwise the word F*ck in the title wouldn’t need to be censored.

Putting profanity in a book title might be lame, but it sells books.  At least it will until too many authors try it and it gets old.  Then authors will have to resort to double and triple profanity.  Sh*t My Dad Says will have to become F*cking Sh*t My F*cking G*DD*mn Dad Says.  Profanity hasn’t gotten old in hip-hop; it might not get old in book titles either.

*****

Not every author has what it takes to become a bestselling author.  Maybe you don’t want to become a celebrity, or maybe you actually like the current president.  Maybe the thought of working with James Patterson (or Bill Clinton) turns your stomach.  Maybe you don’t want to lie about having cancer.  Maybe you don’t have any connections whatsoever with the publishing industry.  Maybe all you want to do is write and be known for high-quality writing.

If that’s the case, good luck to you!

But if that’s not the case, what strategy would you most likely use to become a bestselling author?

*****

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5 Comments
  1. I’ve not heard that story about AJ Finn. Why on earth did he make up something so awful? So many celebs think they can become authors – particularly authors of children’s books. Must be very annoying for the authors who really do know how to write for this audience,

    • “I’ve not heard that story about AJ Finn. Why on earth did he make up something so awful?”-

      I guess he thinks if you’re not lying, you’re not trying.

      I’m almost impressed by how far he was willing to go. He actually wore an eyepatch for a while.

  2. Anonymous permalink

    Fantastic advice. Reaching out to James Patterson forthwith:)

  3. I love the humour in your words.👌

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