Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Becoming a USA Today and New York Times Bestselling Author

It’s every author’s dream to reach the bestseller lists. I have been fortunate to reach bestselling status on Amazon and Barnes & Noble with my Madison Knight Series, and Brandon Fisher series. For this, I am deeply grateful.

But what I want to discuss today is taking things to that next giant step. I’m talking about becoming a New York Times or USA Today Bestseller.  I believe that’s the goal of most authors.

Speaking for myself, I would love to attain this for more than the fame or money that comes with it—it’s the ability to reach even more people, to entertain, to bring relaxation into people’s lives. The fact that as an author, I have my books as a legacy to share with others touches me on a spiritual level. You also never know the full effect your books have on other people. How privileged we are as authors. I am grateful for this every day of my life. You may feel the same way and wonder, how do I go from here to there?

You may have noticed how things are changing in the publishing industry. It’s not just traditionally published authors hitting these lists—it’s the self-published author as well. Typically, we’re used to seeing fiction works standing on their own, but these days even book sets or collections are making best-selling status, giving the contributing authors bragging rights.
Taking from a recent telephone seminar with Jack Canfield and Steve Harrison, I am going to share what they taught. Now, they are offering an 8 week seminar on the topic of becoming a best-seller, but I wasn’t able to sign up at this time. This was not going to deter me, though.

I'm honored to have social network connections with a few bestselling authors and have been in touch with some of them about being interviewed. What steps did they take to propel their books up the charts?  Find out in coming weeks. So if you’re not already signed up to receive email notifications from this blog, this might be a good time.

Jack Canfield hit the bestselling list 47 times, but he wasn’t an overnight success. He put in a lot of hard work, and many years passed before his first published book reached bestselling status.  In fact, it wasn’t until 10 years after he published his first book that he attained this level.

To be successful as an author, you have to first view it and treat it as a business. You have to have an entrepreneurial mindset. Think of it this way, if you were going to open a bakery but had no real experience in one, would you jump in, lease a location, etc, or would you first sit down with other successful bakery owners in the area? You might feel they wouldn’t want to help you. After all, won’t you be their competition? However, everyone wants to be useful. These owners would likely be more than willing to help you out.  Hence, if you want to become a best-selling author, surround yourself with them, tap their brains, see what they did, learn from their experience.

Canfield compared writing to the tip of an iceberg. The bulk of what is beneath the surface is marketing, what made the book visible.

Here are some tips Canfield provided in the telephone seminar:

1) Generate interest in your book before its release.
            - Online marketing
            - Radio Shows           
            - Book tours

2) Determine unique attributes from your book and target like-minded individuals.

3) Before you write a book, think in advance about elements to incorporate that will give you an edge with marketing the book. For example, Canfield included stories from large corporate companies. In turn, they bought thousands of copies to give their employees.

4) Work smart, not hard.

Following is Canfield’s 6 step system:

1) Develop a best-seller mindset. Get your head around the fact you are and act like one before you are. Set high goals. Visualize yourself on the New York Times bestseller list, in bookstore windows. Canfield went as far as scratching out the name in the top position and replaced it with his own. It became reality.  Believe it is possible for you.

2) Develop a marketing plan before you finish the book.  What about its competition? How is it structured, what worked, what didn’t?

Determine who your market is. Find a niche to target. Canfield found that the smaller the niche, the more effective. He also added that he conducted market research and wouldn’t target a niche with any less than 10 million people.

Maybe you can tie in a charity with your book somehow and work with these large companies.

3) Write a book so that people will tell others. Make it compelling, so that the pacing keeps the pages turning, end chapters at a hanging point that makes it impossible for readers to put the book down. Start with a heart-pounding hook.

4) Decide whether you are going to pursue the traditional route, or self publish. There are benefits to both.

5) Promote your book before it is finished. If you don’t promote until after you’ve lost marketing opportunities. You can’t get reviewed for when the book comes out, for example, if you didn’t prepare in advance to provide ARC copies to readers. You can have excerpts of your books placed in magazines.

6) Implement and have a plan. Spend money on education and learn marketing and sales. Some authors think they’re going to put their book out there and have people lined up for it. As Canfield put it, the author thinks it will be the calm before the storm, but without a plan, it’s just the calm before the calm. You can’t just sit back and wait for the book sales to pour in. You have to do some work.

Come back on Thursday for an interview with USA Today Bestselling Author, Cheryl Bradshaw.

Here are some other great names you’ll have to look forward to in the coming weeks (in no particular order):

Joshua Graham
Rebecca Forster
Allan Leverone
Linda Prather
Melissa Foster