Your Fast Track to a Bestseller

bestseller2

(with apologies and thanks to Steve Harrison)

If you’d like your title to be a bestseller — maybe even a New York Times Bestseller — then this post is for you.

An author emailed me after one of my recent panels on ghostwriting. She said, “Claudia, you know so much about the book business. What do I have to do to make my book into a bestseller?”

She had been writing all her life and had a Creative Writing degree from an impressive school. Her teachers loved her book. Her friends and family raved about it. She got 4 and 5-star reviews on Amazon.

But when it came to actual sales — those just trickled in.

I suspected the reason her book wasn’t selling well had nothing to do with her ability to spin a tale, create wonderful characters, or bounce nouns off verbs.

She obviously had good writing skills.

What she didn’t have was a formula for taking her ideas from concept to bestseller status.

So I sent her the seven simple questions below.

(If you’d also like your book to be a bestseller, ask yourself these questions and see if you can answer “YES” to each one.)

Question #1 — Do you have a strong first draft, AND a well-structured second draft, punchy lined-edited third draft, and carefully copy-edited fourth draft?

Question #2 — Do you have the three strongest, most diverse BISAC Subject Headings attached to your nonfiction ISBN? Do you have the best-niche BISAC Subject Heading attached to your fiction ISBN? Do you have the three best Amazon.com categories and 10 top keywords to position your book as a bestseller?

Question #3 — Do you have honest reviews from total strangers who you haveNOT paid but who have actually read your entire book?

Question #4 — Do you have a list of high-volume buyers AND a one-sheet that gets them to say, “Wow, this is great! We need your title”?

Question #5 — Do you have a marketing kit that connects your title to a current, hot, or “sexy” news topic?

Question #6 — Do you have a business plan for online AND offline marketing and promotion? Do you have a list of organizations and groups that need to hear about your book AND a one-sheet that gets them to call you to speak?

Question #7 — Do you have a ready supply of physical books to sign and sell at the back of the room?

My new pen pal responded “NO” to most of the questions. (She had written a strong first draft and she had a supply — a large supply, in fact — of physical books to sell.)

So I wrote back, “That’s wonderful–now you know the missing pieces you need.”

This is the Point Where I’m Supposed to Pitch My Services-

…but I really meant to write more of a post than an advertorial, so let’s leave it here:

If you answered “NO” to any of the questions and would like my help filling in the gaps of your “bestseller plan,” email me at claudiasuzanne@gmail.com or call me at 1-800-641-3936 (USA) or 1-714-954-0580 (International).

If you want to do the heavy lifting yourself and need a coach or a guide, I’m here for you.

If you want referrals to other great people who can help you, here’s my short list:

Flo Selfman’s copy editing
Devon Blaine’s book publicity
Penny Sansevieri’s online marketing
And (of course) Steve Harrison’s publicity and speaking programs

I look forward to seeing your bestseller!

Ghostwriters Unite!

Ghostwriters Gather from Around the Globe for Unique Conference (via PR Newswire)

Now open for registrations, Ghostwriters Unite! pioneers education and community for “invisible” freelance writers and editors SANTA ANA, Calif., March 6, 2013 /PRNewswire/ — Writers, ghostwriters, editors, and industry experts will convene at Ghostwriters Unite at the Hilton Hotel in Long Beach,…

Switch Gender

There you are, a man trying to write female characters or a woman trying to write men. How do you make them believable?

You can fall back on stereotypes. You can lift from your favorite book, TV, or movie characters. Or you can connect to the “other” in your own spirit.

Now, don’t get discouraged; I’m not going “airy-fairy” on you. I’m talking about reaching into the depths of your writer’s psyche and recognizing that you can, if you allow yourself to, get in touch with the opposite gender that resides in us all.

Very few people are all male or all female. Except for those few creatures who live on the extreme ends of the male-female spectrum that ranges from Sweet Young Thing to Manly Man, all women have at least some male sensibilities, just as all men have at least some female sensibilities. It’s only our fear of acknowledging and accepting those attributes that prevent us from having full access to our internal opposites.

Try it! Change your protagonist’s gender. See where it takes you. Don’t default to how you think the opposite gender would view the circumstances. Give yourself permission–as an artist, as a right-brained creator–to be the other gender, to experience the situation as someone with different sexual organs, thought processes, agendas, perspectives, and motivations, someone devoid of your own gender’s stereotypes, prejudices, and preconceptions.

Let me know what happens. Bet it nudges your creativity in ways you never thought possible…