Monday, December 26, 2011

Do You Want A Bestseller?

Authors regularly ask me how their book can become a New York Times bestseller. It’s because of my role as a book publisher at Intermedia and my years in the publishing business. I wish I had some magic bestseller pill that I could dispense when I get this question but I don’t know how to find that pill. I don’t believe there is anyone who has that pill.

Sure there are people who will sell you programs and plans to push your book to the top. In some ways, looking for a formula for bestsellers is like checking out the latest diet book. These diet books always appear at the end of the year and the beginning of a new year. People face a new year and are determined to find the magic formula for losing weight and getting into shape. Over 15 years ago I wrote a diet book in 11 days which has sold over 100,000 copies.

My co-author told me, “Terry, losing weight is simple. You need to eat less and exercise more.” Yet this co-author realized people needed more instruction than these simple words.

I can tell you the simple words work. In the last 12 months, I made a decision for my own eating habits to eliminate as much sugar and carbs in my diet and to exercise daily. Throughout the entire year, I only missed about 16 days and mostly because of travel. The results: I weigh over 30 pounds less than I started January 2011 and I feel better. Yet to make such a change, I had to make many daily decisions about eating and exercise. It took a great deal of hard work to achieve what I accomplished.

In the last few weeks, I’ve been re-listening to the audio tapes from Mega Book Marketing University 2007 with Mark Victor Hansen. I’ve not heard this information in several years. Even mega bestselling authors like Mark Victor Hansen and Jack Canfield worked like crazy for the first several years to sell their books. They followed the rule of five—where they each did five things each day to promote their book. That consistent action of a radio interview, a television interview, a newspaper articles, a blog post, etc. after a while reached a tipping point and the books became a bestseller.

Woven into the fabric of their story about success for Chicken Soup for the Soul is a consistent message of hard work to promote and market and sell their book to readers.

There is no magic pill. Most authors are unwilling or uneducated to do the necessary promotion work for their book. It takes a daily and consistent effort. What steps are you taking today to establish your presence in the marketplace and your expertise in your particular topic or area?

Recently I met with an author who wants to write a book about the sanctity of Christian marriage. I can appreciate and value such a desire. Her book (which I haven’t seen) may be terrific. I encouraged her to begin writing magazine articles and to start blogging about her marriage experiences. Also I encouraged her to begin a twitter account about marriage and posting on Facebook about marriage to establish her own expertise in this area. The regular effort to promote her own expertise on her selected topic will take some time to pay off but I believe her consistent action will pay off. It doesn’t happen instantly.

You’ve probably heard about someone who has become an overnight success. Yet when I look closely at these overnight success stories, these people have been in the trenches for years writing their stories, speaking to audiences and building their reputation in a particular area of the market.

Stake your claim and your area. The dream is possible but it will take hard work. There is no doubt about it but I believe you are up for the task.

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