Since I started consulting in 2007, I’ve had the pleasure to work with several New York Times bestselling authors (see my partial client list here). Many people ask me what’s the secret to becoming a bestseller. There is no secret, and if someone tells you there’s a secret, they are lying. However, there are consistent traits of successful authors. Here are five best practices that I’ve seen exhibited by my bestselling clients:
1. Bestsellers use the power of free to create paid sales.
Here’s a counterintuitive business secret: If you want people to give you their money and buy your books, give them something for free first. You may think that you’re giving away the farm and losing your shirt. But, the opposite actually happens. Effective free resources cause skeptical shoppers to think, “This free content was so good, I wonder how much more value I’ll get if I buy the whole book?” I teach my bestselling clients to giveaway their content, such as creating free e-books, how-to articles, short stories, novellas, teaching videos, 7-day challenges, quizzes, etc. The more generous you are, the greater the response you receive. Free is the fastest way to get paid.
2. Bestsellers never stop building their platform.
I’ve met too many authors who disappear for months to write their next book. They disconnect from their readers for a long time, but then wonder why their platform isn’t growing. Remember the adage, “Out of sight…out of mind.” Bestsellers know this principle is true, and they consistently market to their audience year-round through email newsletters, social media, blog posts, webinars, speaking engagements, etc. My top clients have huge platforms, such as 100,000 email subscribers, 700,000 Facebook fans, and 25,000 website visitors per month. But, these numbers didn’t happen overnight. They built these numbers by steadily marketing for over 10 years. They regularly communicate and never disappear from their audience.
3. Bestsellers keep launching new products.
Another trait my most successful clients share is the constant desire to launch new products. They don’t write a bestseller, cash in their royalty checks, and go sit on the beach. In the midst of enjoying their success, they continue to think about the needs of their readers. They might work on a new manuscript. Or, in between book releases, they might launch spin-off products based on past books, such as a video course, short story prequel, action guide, etc. They maximize their income by asking what their readers want and meeting that demand.
4. Bestsellers promote their value instead of their ego.
When an author becomes a national bestseller, there is a temptation to become arrogant and focus on the achievement. All of my clients battle this issue. But, there is a sure-fire way to avoid appearing self-centered: Focus your marketing language on the results your readers experience, rather than promoting yourself. Our culture is naturally drawn to celebrity authors. But, in reality, nobody really cares if an author becomes a bestseller. Readers just want to know “What’s in it for me?” When you explain how your books improve the reader’s life, you keep people riveted to your value, rather than your ego.
5. Bestsellers communicate well in public.
Social media may dominate today’s business headlines, but it pales in comparison to the power of public speaking, television appearances, and radio interviews. My most successful clients are excellent communicators. For example, DeVon Franklin regularly appears on Good Morning America and speaks at conferences nationwide. After writing over 80 novels, Wanda Brunstetter still maintains a busy book-signing schedule to interact with her fans. Dr. John Townsend is a leadership expert who runs an online video training course that coaches people around the world.
These bestselling authors know that public speaking, whether in-person or online, is an essential way to attract new readers and solidify relationships with fans. Logic makes people think, but emotion makes them act. There is no better way to build emotion with people than to appear in front of them and provide value, inspiration, or entertainment. If you want to attract more readers, avoid limiting yourself to the writer’s cave or social media. Get out and communicate in public.
Before my top clients became bestselling authors, they started from scratch – just like everybody else. They used to be authors that no one knew existed. The difference is that they maintained a passion for their material, kept implementing solid business practices, and eventually reached levels of success beyond anything they imagined.
If you’re just starting out as an author or if your success has hit a plateau, follow those who have already achieved the goal that you desire. If you want to be a bestseller, implement these five best practices of my bestselling clients.
Learn all of my techniques to bestselling book sales in my Book Marketing Master Class. The most comprehensive marketing instruction for career-minded authors…period.