What makes a book a bestseller?

teasersquare600After two years of pounding the keyboard and putting out indie fiction, I finally hit what I consider a bestseller. Half Wolf had 6,000 combined sales and borrows during its first three months of life, and the sequel seems to be enjoying even better reviews (and, hopefully, sales).

While my figures still don’t hold a candle to those of some authors, I thought it would be worth mentioning what I did differently in case you want to follow suit. Here’s a quick rundown in what went into my bestseller.

  1. Studied the genre harder. I read widely and often and write what I love to read. That said, I noticed repeated criticisms of my Wolf Rampant series surrounding lack of sex and action scenes. At first, I turned up my nose and said, “Hmmph! That’s what makes me an indie author — I can write what I want!” But then I decided to give it a whirl. And I have to admit I feel like the resulting book was more powerful for the inclusions (even though those component are still below average on a modern chart).
  2. Paid for an amazing cover. I have basic photoshop skills and thought I could make my own covers…and I did manage to make passable ones. Then I upgraded to hiring a cover artist…and was amazed at the difference in sales. Rebecca Frank is, unfortunately, now booked months in advance and no longer accepting new clients. However, I highly recommend shopping around and paying for a top-notch cover to match your top-notch book, hitting all of the same genre buttons to signal exactly what’s inside.
  3. Workshopped my blurb to death. Seriously, I think about ten people helped me make approximately 100 revisions on my blurb. Even before that, I studied the blurbs of the bestsellers in my genre, noting word count and other factors. Overall, I spent nearly a week on the project! But the result is tight and humming with life and it sells books.
  4. Launched with forethought. A lot more goes into a sticky launch than just telling your fans and waiting for the sales to roll in. If you haven’t read it, I recommend Chris Fox’s Launch to Market as a primer. I used a spreadsheet and every bit of social capital I’d built up in recent months on my launch and it was very much worth it.

I hope that gives you some ideas for pushing your next book into the stratosphere! And, if you’re curious, Half Wolf will be free Saturday and Lone Wolf Dawn is already marked down to 99 cents for launch week. Feel free to lurk and see whether my second launch does as well as the first.