For example, most lists only take into account the number of book sales in a very specific time period and from very specific places—and most of them don’t count online book sales the same as in-store sales.
What does this mean for you and your desire to be on a bestseller list?
While bestseller lists aren’t exactly a “lie,” they don’t paint the whole picture. Someone who sells a lot of books right at launch and then nothing for a while can still make the New York Times bestseller list…even though they might sell far fewer books than someone else who just didn’t have as many sales at once.
Essentially, it means that becoming a New York Times bestseller is a great goal to have, but it doesn’t mean that your book is any better than the millions of others out there.
That being said, many of us love the title of becoming a bestseller, so I’m here to walk you through how to do that in the way that makes the most sense for you.
Benefits of being a bestselling author
Even if most of the popular bestseller lists aren’t necessarily “fair,” there are still some perks to becoming a bestselling author.
Here are some benefits of landing your name on a bestseller list:
The title. There’s really nothing that has quite as satisfying of a ring to it as “bestselling author” does. It makes you feel good and rightfully so! It’s an accomplishment no matter how it happened and the confidence boost alone is enough of a reason to work hard to reach that goal.
The credibility. People just take bestselling authors more seriously. Because there’s some sort of proof that your book sold more, people think that means it’s better. When they feel that way about you being a bestselling author, they’re far more likely to respect you, your book, and anything else you put in front of them—like a business.
It helps you sell more books. Just like I mentioned above, being a bestselling author increases credibility. That means people will buy your book simply because it has that title—even if they’re not quite sure who you are or what’s in your book. It’s a simple way to increase your book sales.
It’s easier to sell future books. Once you hit bestseller status once, you can then add that title to your future books. Because of the same reason I mentioned in the point above, people are more likely to buy your book because the public perceived a bestseller status as an indicator of a good book.
You can charge more for non-author gigs. This includes if you want to be a speaker or any other side business connected to your book. Because you have that bestseller status, you can charge more.
How to become a bestselling author
If your heart is set on becoming a bestselling author and reaping all the rewards associated with it, we can help you get there
No matter if you want to become a New York Times bestselling author or an Amazon bestselling author, we’ve got you covered.
#1 – Decide which bestseller list you want to get on
This will ultimately define which path you follow to get published.
Our list above details a couple bestseller lists you can aim to get on, or you can shoot for all of them if you’re really ambitious.
Here at Self-Publishing School, we teach our students how to excel in becoming Amazon bestselling authors in order to gain authority, increase your book’s rankings on the #1 platform for book sales in the world, and ultimately, sell more of their books.
It’s up to you to determine if you want to get on one, two, or even all of the bestseller lists available.
#2 – Write an amazing book
Obviously, your book is important. While there is a lot of strategy involved in becoming a bestselling author, you do have to write a book worthy of selling.
Here’s how you can write an amazing book:
Decide if you want to write fiction or nonfiction. Both types of books can land on their respective bestseller list. This is a fairly easy decision—just go with the first idea you have.
Come up with a book idea. This can be made a lot easier with a list of writing prompts like this one right here. Remember that you have to be passionate about your book because if you’re not, your readers will be able to tell. No “bestseller” banner will save you from negative reviews.
Outline your book. One of the best ways I’ve learned how to write a good book is to outline it. When you know where you’re going, everything in between is easier to write, and that means you can focus on writing with quality.
Write your book. It may take time, but if you follow our process for writing a quality book, you will be proud to have it out into the world. Keep our tips in mind throughout the process and you’ll write a better book, faster.
#3 – Build an author platform
This should happen before you write your book—or during it, if you just decided you want to become an author at all, let alone a bestselling author.
What is an author platform?
Your platform is your audience. In order to sell your book and on a consistent basis (which is key if you want to be a full-time author), people need to:
know you exist and
that you’re writing books for them to read.
In order to do this, you have to be present on social media, have an author website, and market yourself as an author regularly.
Where you spend your most time and how you go about that marketing will depend on what type of book you’re writing and who your audience.
As an example, if your intended audience is an older generation between the ages of 45-60, they’re more likely to be on Facebook than other social platforms simply because those are Facebook’s deomgraphics.
Here are the demographics for social platforms so you can determine where you’ll focus your efforts:
Facebook: 54% female, 46% male, 65% between 50-64 years old
Twitter: 24% women, 23% men, 40% between 18-29 years old
Instagram: 39% women, 30% men, 72% between 13-17 years old
Pinterest: 41% women, 16% men, 34% between 40-49 years old
Using these numbers, you can get a better idea of where you should start building up your author platform first.
#4 – Market your book NOW
Yes, before it’s even done.
If you start on your author platform like I mentioned above, you can start marketing by simply creating social posts, videos, and more content related to your book and its contents.
Here are some ideas for marketing your book before it’s done:
Create social posts with tips and tricks related to your book’s contents
Update your followers on your book’s progress
Talk about the process of writing a book
Voice your challenges with the writing or content itself
Create countdown posts when it gets closer to time to launch
Engage with your followers by asking them to comment below—and then have conversations with them
#5 – Decide to pursue self-publishing or traditional publishing
This is where your earlier decision of which bestseller list you want to be on comes into play.
If your goal is to become a New York Times bestselling author (which isn’t all it’s cracked up to be, but you do you), you’ll have to go the traditional publishing route and commit to spending a couple years mostly waiting.
However, if you want to become an Amazon bestselling author, that achievement is right around the corner.
Ultimately, we here at Self-Publishing School believe becoming an Amazon bestseller is not only the most attainable goal of becoming a bestseller author, but it also grants the same rewards as the others.
Chandler is the host of the Self Publishing School podcast & the author of 6 bestselling books including his most recent book titled “Published.”. He’s also the founder & CEO of Self-Publishing School, the #1 online resource for writing your first book. Self Publishing School made the INC 5000 in 2018 (#2,699) as one of the 5,000 fastest-growing private companies in the US. Through his books, podcast, training videos, and Self-Publishing School, he’s helped thousands of people on their journey to writing their first book.