11 Steps to Writing a Bestselling Novel (Infographic)
Harry Potter, Twilight, The Hobbit, The Little Prince, The Da Vinci Code. What do these books have in common? They’re among the best-selling books of all time.
Writing a book is one thing. Making it a bestseller is another. Quality book editing or proofreading helps, but you can also use big data and established trends too. The road to the best-selling list may remain less traveled, but that doesn’t mean you can’t turn your book into a widespread phenomenon.
Over the years, scientists and writers alike have found new ways to figure out what makes a good book. With big data, we are able to analyze thousands of books and see the patterns that launch them to coveted best-selling lists.
Whether you’re writing the next Fifty Shades of Grey or The Picture of Dorian Gray, knowing the very elements that could easily catapult your book to success could be helpful in shaping your writing career.
Check out our latest infographic below where we break down 11 key steps to writing a bestselling novel.
Thousands of books are published per annum – in 2015 alone, 2,714,409 books were printed in English and this number continues to increase as new authors publish their work.
As such, it’s clear that the publishing industry is highly competitive – and only the best books stand a chance of becoming popular.
Almost all authors seek gratification by getting their novels featured in the bestsellers list – they look forward to captivating their audience with charming characters, detailed scenes and a solid plot.
So what if you have all of the above but fail to achieve greatness? Your next move will be to either run your script by your editor again or amend it through proven tactics used by top authors.
Of course, there is no predetermined format that can be followed; otherwise, everyone would be able to write a best seller.
Still, logic dictates that we should learn from the success of others, and follow certain guidelines and patterns for the overall theme, tone and writing style.
Steps to make your novel a best seller
Here is a checklist that you can follow to write exceptional content to increase your chance of being featured as a bestseller novelist.
Clear, concise and coherent
According to an algorithm created by Matthew Jockers and Jodie Archer that calculated with 80% accuracy, books that get listed in the New York Times bestseller list focus the following: short sentences, dominant narratives and most importantly, simple vocabulary.
To make your book more ‘readable’, write in a manner that your target audience is familiar with. For instance, if you are targeting young adults, don’t use jargons, words or phrases that are difficult to understand.
Also, use less words in a sentence, and limit the use of semicolons and exclamation marks – although you are welcome to use question marks where they fit organically.
Of course, an important way to make your book more ‘readable’ is to ensure there are no spelling or grammar errors within the writing. Proofreading and editing, therefore, are crucial steps in the publication process.
An appealing title
An author needs to put in a considerable amount of time when finalizing a novel’s title as it is the first impression for the content within. After all, a good title encompasses the essence of the book and a reader can understand what to look forward to.
For example, Danielle Steel’s famous novel “Five days in Paris” lets the audience know that it would be based in Paris – and being a Danielle Steel novel, it would be focused on romance.
Looking at successful novels from the past, a clear pattern can be observed; most popular works use “THE” before the title, e.g., ‘The Da Vinci Code.’
Similarly, the word ‘wife’ has been seen in many bestsellers such as The Silent Wife – whereas only one book with “husband” in the title has appeared in the list.
Female leading characters are more liked
Not surprisingly, novels that have female protagonists are more likely to win awards compared to books with intersex or male leads.
Consider this: globally acclaimed books like Jane Eyre, The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo and Gone Girl are all stories of dark, lonely or misplaced female characters.
Similarly, it’s interesting to note that most popular monsters in stories are usually male.
Don’t lose focus
To keep readers engaged, good authors focus 30% of their books on one or two topics – anything more can confuse the readers.
For instance, 1/3rd of paragraphs written by John Grisham talk about the legal system while Danielle Steel is known for focusing on domestic life.
Choose a genre that does well
Selecting a good genre is very important; romantic novels account for 25% of all bestsellers and 40% of book sales on Amazon.
Considering this, the time couldn’t be better for publishing a romantic masterpiece where the author speaks to the audience on an intimate level. Also, incorporating themes like death, marriage, doctors, presidents, work and school could increase your chances of writing a book that goes on to become fairly popular.
Pick a perspective and stick to it
This depends on the type of story and how you want to narrate it – as a third person or a first-person. A majority of bestsellers, i.e., 52%, are written from a third-person perspective while 39% are written from a first-person perspective.
If an author wants the audience to relate to the characters on a personal level, the use of I, me, myself or mine are recommended. But, if the story is written as an observation, then a third-person perspective would be more appropriate.
An author should pick the perspective that fits the best according to the plot and stick by it throughout the novel.
Find a good publisher
Finding the right publisher is vital for your novel’s success; they should have a track record of publishing books in a similar genre, an excellent editorial team and should be well known.
The United States Publishing industry is the best place to launch a book, but if you cannot sell in the States – then markets like China, Japan, Germany, France and the UK are excellent options as they account for over 60% of the global spending on books.
A good book editor is also essential. This article explains what a book editor really costs.
Fiction or non-fiction
Only 5% of bestsellers are based on actual events; the rest are fictional stories – however, sales of non-fiction stories have also increased by 28.4% from 2013 to 2017.
This upwards trend shows that both can be viable fields, even though fictional stories have an edge in terms of being listed as bestsellers.
Gender of the author
As per bestsellers – female and male authors are represented on equal grounds, but a majority of nonfictional bestsellers are written by men.
The takeaway here is that it’s important to write in a style that appeals to everyone – your piece should not be gender-specific unless that is your topic.
Strike while the iron is hot
Your book’s launch date should be picked carefully; it’s generally not a good idea to launch during holiday seasons such as Christmas as you will have to compete with a lot of authors.
For instance, if you want to launch a fictional Sci-Fi novel based on a superhero, you can align your launch before, during or after Comic-Con or other similar conventions.
Take Care Of The Disabled
If your venue is appropriate for people with disabilities, there is a high chance that your sales would increase by 25%.
Ensure that your launch event is wheelchair accessible, your website is user-friendly and your social media posts have good quality pictures.
All in all, these are some steps that can serve as a guiding light for you to enhance your writing skills and appeal to the masses.
And remember, this is not a blueprint to success – this can only pave the way to writing better content.