What Do Bestselling Authors Have In Common?
Ten Things That May Surprise You.
What separates the publishing industry elite, the
bestselling authors, from all the thousands and thousands
of writers who aspire to someday make the bestseller lists?
It turns out that writing talent is not the only separating
factor; in fact it may not even be the most important factor.
1. Perseverance Is Key
Nearly all bestselling authors faced the same struggles early
in their careers that less successful, even unpublished authors,
face. Immediate success is rare. One distinction of bestselling
authors is that they do not get as discouraged by lack of early
success. They persevere. Their desire to succeed is enormous.
Bestselling authors often have to demonstrate the patience and
stamina to write a number of books before achieving notable
2. They Write, And Write And Write….
The productivity, the writing output, of bestselling authors is
much greater than the average writer’s. They have the discipline
to get up each day and produce high quality work. They don’t
wait for the muse to tap them on the shoulder. Some authors’
annual literary production is phenomenal, such as Nora Roberts
who often comes out with two extremely popular books each year—
year after year. Or Catherine Coulter, who has produced more
than fifty bestsellers so far in her career.
3. They Like To Write And Write And Write …
They would rather write than do anything else. It’s not just
that successful authors are more disciplined, though that is
part of it; they simply enjoy writing more than other writers
do. Many aspiring authors enjoy the idea of writing, not the
hard work itself. Bestselling authors seem to thrive on the
hard work, and they work much harder than we might suppose.
4. Promotion Is Constant
Bestselling authors never stop promoting their books, no matter
how successful they get. Many still market at the grass roots
level, not just through national TV or radio interviews. They
take the time to visit and meet individual bookstore managers
at both chain stores and independents. They never relax and
believe they have “made it.”
5. Marketing Is An Important Factor
Even if they have never taken a business course in college,
they have an innate sense of marketing concepts such as brand
building and product differentiation. They closely watch trends
in the literary marketplace. They understand what it is about
their books that readers respond favorably to. They take a
strategic approach to their careers and they realize that much
more goes into being a successful author than the writing itself.
6. Fans Are An Important Asset
Bestselling authors listen closely to what their readers say,
and try very hard to meet or exceed their fans’ expectations,
but they do not necessarily pay close attention to what reviewers
or book critics say. They don’t even necessarily expect good
reviews. Word of mouth support from readers and booksellers is
more important to them than reviews.
7. The More Success The More Pressure
Bestselling authors face more pressure as they get more
successful. As they rise to the top, there are increasing
demands on their time. Top authors lead three very different
lives. First, the quiet, solitary scholarly life of being a
writer. Then participating in the team effort within the
publishing house to make the book the best book it can be. This
involves learning how to take advice from and collaborate with
the professionals within the publishing house. Finally, the
author must participate in the very public life of trying to
sell books to the mass audience. They have to master all three
lives if they intend to continue to achieve bestseller status.
Added pressure comes from the fact that the publishing house
expects that an author’s sales will increase with each
8. They Faced A Key Turning Point
There’s no denying that luck and timing play a vastly important
role in literary success. Most bestselling authors had a key
turning point in their career, a time when someone influential
in the publishing industry got behind their career and helped
them get to the next level. In other words, they found someone
who championed their work in the marketplace. This person might
have been an agent, an editor, or could have been a member of
the media who first introduced this author’s work to thousands
of potential readers. The scary part is that the author has no
control over when—or whether—this favorable turning point will
9. They’re Grateful
Bestselling authors are keenly aware how fortunate they are to
have arrived at the top of their profession. They sincerely
appreciate their loyal readers. They recognize that they have
been chosen to receive a strikingly rare, special distinction by
a bustling, competitive marketplace. The success, fame and
financial rewards that have come to them are often beyond the
most extravagant dreams they had when they first sat down to
write a book.
10. There Is No Single Profile For A Bestselling Author
Bestselling authors are seldom the top graduates from
prestigious university writing programs. Writing may have been
a second or third career for them, and the publishing industry
values authors who bring life experience to their work, in
fiction or nonfiction. Bestselling authors span all age groups,
many different professions and varied educational backgrounds.
There is no single profile for what a bestselling author looks
Other articles by Brian Hill and Dee Power