What Makes a Bestseller, a Bestseller?

Few people know how to write bestsellers better than Dean Koontz. One piece of advice he gives to up-and-coming novelists: don’t let outlines stifle your creativity. Although “nearly every new writer I know uses detailed outlines,” he says, “when I stopped relying on them, my work became less stiff, more organic, less predictable.” For some writers, creating an outline can be helpful; the key is to know what helps you personally and what keeps you from being successful. Nail down your process and give yourself creative leeway – even if you do use an outline, think of it as a rough roadmap, not something you need to rigidly adhere to.

Bestsellers Arise Out of an Author’s Passion

“Write what you know” is old advice, but it’s not necessarily true. “Write what you feel” may be more accurate. If you don’t know something, you can go out and learn it, and that can make you a better writer. But if you aren’t in love with what you’re writing about, that will come out in your work. Write about what you want, and what you’re passionate about. Don’t let the latest derail your efforts, because trends change. Readers can tell when you really care about your writing and when you’re just going through the motions. Writing a bestseller isn’t a science, so don’t treat it like one!

Bestsellers are Written in an Accessible Style

You might be surprised by what the reading public prefers when it comes to style. A team of researchers recently used stylometric techniques to analyze hundreds of popular and not-so-popular books to determine what, if anything, their styles had in common. The results flew in the face of a lot of conventional wisdom. The authors of the most beloved books emphasized nouns and adjectives over verbs and used plenty of conjunctions like “and” and “but.” If you really want to write a bestseller, you would do well to look at what has succeeded in the past and not rely too much on rigid structure.

Bestsellers are Promoted by Their Authors

Finally, remember that writing is a business. Are you a brilliant writer? Maybe, but unrecognized talent is a tale as old as time. So get yourself recognized. Make yourself known to the reading and writing community as soon as possible—don’t wait for your book to get done. Start a blog and set up an account of Twitter and/or Facebook. Talk to established writers online and in person. Not only can they give you solid tips, they may also introduce your work to a wider audience than you could hope to get on your own. Be polite, not pushy, but get your name out there.

Marketing is an incredibly important element of the publishing process. But before you start selling your book, you need to create an appealing product, which means finding the book printing service that works for you.

Kevin Osworth