What does it take to produce a best-seller? Answer: Every author hopes their book will become a bestseller. It’s a lofty goal that has positive implications. If a writer is enthusiastic about their message, they will promote it with great enthusiasm.
Before I address what makes a bestseller, I need to define the term. According to industry standards, a non-fiction book is considered a bestseller when it reaches 5000 copies sold (7500 for fiction titles). That may not seem like a lot, but consider that most published books don’t reach these levels. Certainly national bestsellers can reach millions of copies sold, but understand that bestsellers come in all different sizes.
What are the factors that affect how many copies a book will sell? There are many, but here are seven of the most important ones. The more of these that apply to your book, the more copies it will likely sell:
1. A popular topic: One of the greatest factors that affects book sales is the subject matter. A book with a popular topic can be more saleable than a book with a celebrity byline. You have to ask yourself: Is what I’m writing about relevant to my potential readers? Is it something they really want to read about?
2. A ready audience: The size of your potential audience, their interest in reading books, and their ability or willingness to buy books all affect how many books can be sold relative to your subject matter. You need to anticipate and understand your readers’ buying habits.
3. Enthusiastic author promotion: If you’re excited about your book, the enthusiasm will be infectious! Successful book promotion depends on continued investment of your time, resources, and efforts for at least two years. It won’t happen overnight. Plan on promoting your book through speaking engagements, interviews, book signings, emails, and other recommended activities.
4. Word-of-mouth recommendation: The benefits of your book must excite readers to the point where they recommend it to others. When such a recommendation comes from a trusted pastor or friend, it carries even more weight. When readers have the opportunity to hear you speak, it also has a positive effect on book sales because they will have a greater degree of trust in you and your message.
5. Reasonably priced: One survey indicated that half of Christian book buyers consider price to be a major factor in their book purchasing decision. Your book must be reasonably priced in comparison to other titles with similar subject matter.
6. Effective cover design and copy: What do buyers see first when considering a book purchase? The cover, of course. You have about 3-5 seconds to get their attention and pique their interest, or you’ve lost them!
7. The Lord’s favor: Last, but certainly not least, having the Lord’s blessing on your book (and your life) determines not only how many books will sell but also how great an impact your message will have on your readers’ lives. An attitude of humility and a servant’s heart will surely attract the favor of the Lord.
Will your book become a bestseller? It could, if you pay attention to these seven factors. Sadly, many authors write for themselves rather than for their market. Don’t make this mistake if you want your message to reach your intended audience! As your agent, I can help you identify the strengths and weaknesses of your manuscript and make changes when necessary.