With more and more self-published authors striving onto and up the Amazon charts, we look at what it takes to be a bestseller and share some of the best advice from those at the absolute top of their game. All of these authors have a very serious, professional attitude to their writing career and have taken the time and energy to get things right from the very start. Needless to say, they have sold hundreds of thousands in territories all over the world. Take their advice and follow in bestselling footsteps.
Want to be a bestseller? Follow this advice
1. Get an editor to improve your writing
Having invested hours of your life on your manuscript, not to mention all that blood, sweat and tears, you don’t want beginners’ mistakes and sloppy errors to put readers and reviewers off; you want to give your readers the best reading experience possible. However, every writer reaches a point where they can’t see the wood from the trees. This is totally normal. When you work on something closely for a long time, you start to miss things. At this stage, you need to bring in a fresh pair of professional eyes. You will be amazed at how much an editor or proofreader can pick up, and how much better your writing will be after they have been through it.
Adam Croft is a UK bestseller who has sold over half a million books to date and reached the top of the charts in the UK, US and Canada. His debut, Her Last Tomorrow, sold over 150,000 copies before being snapped up by Amazon’s own publishing imprint.
“Always use a professional editor… Your friend/sister/colleague who’s quite good at English isn’t an editor. An editor has a very specific set of specialised skills. And no, you can’t edit yourself. Your brain knows what that word is meant to say, so doesn’t show you the fact you’ve spelt it wrong. This is an investment in your business. If you don’t take yourself seriously, prospective readers sure as hell won’t.” – Adam Croft
Our editorial team is headed up by Leila Dewji, who has a Masters in English Literature from Oxford University, and has been working with authors to help them improve their writing for years. She and her eagle-eyed editors and proofreaders work directly with authors to help them develop their writing skills, hone their craft, and, of course, make sure their readers get the best experience possible. They work with authors at all stages – from those who have an idea they need help structuring, to those who are pretty confident in their work, but want to be sure they haven’t made any silly mistakes or typos.
Our team of editors often see the same mistakes coming up time and time again, such as areas where the pace has slipped, misused vocabulary or inconsistency in the story. We have put together a pack of editorial resources to help you combat some common editorial problem areas so you can get your writing in the best shape possible before it reaches your editor. We’ve also included a bonus feedback questionnaire so that you can get the most constructive comments from friends, family and peers to help you shape your manuscript
2. Invest in proper cover design
With attention spans getting shorter and shorter, you want a cover that really grabs readers’ attention, even if they are scrolling through Amazon charts on a smartphone and only seeing the cover at thumbnail size. Cover design is a niche skill and not something any artist or graphic designer can turn their hand to. A cover designer knows not only how to create a beautiful image, but one that conveys the right message to the right people, which results in sales. It’s an important thing to get right because your cover design will form the cornerstone of your author brand – the colours, fonts, styles etc. you choose for your cover should also be used on your business cards, author website, social media graphics etc. You want to be looking good everywhere!
Joanna Penn is a self-published bestseller of both fiction and non-fiction. She worked as a business IT consultant before becoming an author, and has brought that business-savvy mindset to her self-publishing career. This professional, careful and methodical approach has resulted in top spots in both the New York Times and USA Today thriller charts. She is very ambitious and knows that she can’t market a book that doesn’t look good. She warns:
“Investing in professional book cover design is non-negotiable for indie authors who want to make a living with their writing. Readers DO judge a book by its cover, and they won’t read your blurb, download a sample or ‘buy now’ without connecting to your cover somehow. In short, you’re unlikely to sell many books unless you have a great cover design…” – Joanna Penn
Having a good cover design is a really quick and effective way to impress readers and stand out from the competition. Our award-winning design team have years of experience and each designer has their own speciality, which means we can match you up with the perfect designer for your book. Whatever genre you have written in, your designer will understand the needs, styles, and nuances of that genre and its readers. This enables them to create a gorgeous design that clearly appeals to the right readership and works hard to sell your book.
3. Have a plan for selling your work
Bestsellers know who their target readers are and successfully reach out to them, whether that’s via influencers, reviews, blogs, magazine interviews, freebies, social media, etc. Firstly, you need to have a clear idea of who will read your book – think about the groups of people that might be interested in your book and why. Secondly, once you have established who your audience are, you need a detailed plan of attack as to how you are going to reach them, on and offline.
Rachel Abbott is a Kindle bestseller who has sold over a million eBooks. In fact, last year, Amazon confirmed that Rachel Abbott is the UK’s bestselling self-published author over the last five years! She knows a thing or two about what it takes to be really successful. She shares her number one tip:
“Without a doubt, (my breakthrough moment) was when I wrote a marketing plan. The first marketing plan I wrote was about 15 pages long and I followed it to the letter.” – Rachel Abbott
If you don’t have a solid marketing plan, it’s unlikely your book will become a bestseller. Before you publish, you should know which marketing strategies are best suited to your book and your readers and how you are going to implement them. We offer a wide range of marketing support from websites, branding and book trailers to our comprehensive marketing course which, if you are willing to learn, will take you from beginner to marketing wizard!
We hope these wise words from bestsellers can help you become a self-publishing success. If you need advice on any part of the self-publishing process, book in for a free 1:1 with Ali Dewji, our publishing and marketing expert, and he will steer you on the right course. Or, if you are not quite at that stage, you can download our comprehensive guide to self-publishing here.