Select Page

How to Become a Bestselling Author: Lesson 3

Welcome to the final regular lesson in our series on How to Become a Bestselling author. We have one more lesson after this, a live training that’s coming up soon, so be on the lookout for that in your email inbox.

In the previous two lessons, we talked about the importance of publishing and having a cartel, but the last rule makes all of these work. It is the glue that holds together your entire publishing strategy.


Hands: a Short Story by Joe Bunting

How to Become a Bestselling Author

Hey everyone. Welcome to the final regular lesson in our series on How to Become a Bestselling author. We have one more lesson after this, a live training that’s coming up soon, so be on the lookout for that in your email inbox. It will be live only though, so you’ll want to find the time that fits your schedule best.

In the previous two lessons, we talked about the importance of publishing and having a cartel, but the last rule makes all of these work. It is the glue that holds together your entire publishing strategy.

When I first got into professional writing, I had this belief that goes like this:

“Writing is a job, not just a hobby. It’s hard work, and writers, like all artists, deserve to get paid for their work. In fact, I’m not going to write anything unless I’m getting paid for it by a publisher or by readers.”

I would state this proudly to editors who wanted to hire me to write articles for less than I thought I was worth. I would only submit my short stories to literary magazines that paid. And I never shared any of my work, expecting some publisher to eventually pick me up and make my writing dreams come true.

And my career stalled. I didn’t get my work published. I was rejected by literary magazines. I alienated editors.

Then I heard about a new approach. Instead of demanding you get paid what you’re worth, this approach called for giving your writing away so you can show what you’re worth.

The rule was, “Be generous.”

I thought, well, no one’s reading my writing anyway. It’s worth a try. And so I asked a local newspaper if I could contribute articles for well under what I felt I should have been getting paid. I started sharing my writing for free on a blog. I edited a book for a mentor even though he couldn’t afford to hire me.

And then, everything changed. The free and cheap articles I wrote for the newspaper led to an offer to write bigger pieces. The writing I shared on my blog led to valuable relationships with readers, some of whom are readers today, more than a decade later. And that free editing I did turned into my first, full-time writing gig.

It was amazing. I wouldn’t be here talking to you right now if I had stubbornly stuck with the same my approach. Being generous changed everything for me.

Most of all, I learned so much from the process. I realized that I really hadn’t been worth as much as I thought. All the work I had just done was practice.

This lesson is something I still live by. Right now, you can get one of my best short stories, “Hands,” for free on Amazon. I’ll put the link in the description for you. You can download half a dozen, books and guides about the writing process from thewritepractice.com, not to mention almost 2,000 free articles and exercises. And this very course, which you’re watching right now, you got for free because of my belief that the most successful people in the world are the ones who provide the most value, they’re the most generous people in the world.

And I want to challenge you to be more generous with your writing today. What would it look like to share your best writing for free today? Maybe that would look like selfpublishing it and setting it to free? Maybe that would look like giving it away on your blog in exchange for an email address?

Now you might say what I said all those years ago. “Don’t I deserve to get paid for my writing?

And to that I say, sure, but who’s going to pay you? If readers don’t know who you are, if they don’t care about you and have a relationship with you, then why will they buy your books?

No as readers, we choose to read something for two reasons: because we’ve heard about it from a friend or because we already know the author and trust that they write a great book that we like.

For your book to be chosen by readers, you have to be generous! Sometimes that means giving away your best writing so that you can develop lifelong relationships with readers that eventually lead to getting paid for your work.

And again, this doesn’t have to be complicated. This can be as simple as emailing someone a short story. Or printing it out and mailing it to a friend. No excuses. I don’t want you to use not knowing how to design a cover and format a book interior and publish something as an excuse. This can be so easy. But if you do it over and over and over again, you will see results.

Today, be generous with your best writing. Today, give some of your writing as a gift to someone, maybe that’s a poem or an article or the chapter of your book. Email it or print it out and give it to a friend.

Then, leave a comment under this lesson letting us know what you did and how it went. I’m excited to hear about your acts of writing generosity.

That’s it for these lessons. I hope you found them helpful. Leave a comment below if they helped you.

Don’t forget, we have one more lesson, a live training that’s coming up soon. Stay tuned for details!


  1. Jackson Winters

    Awesome video series! Thanks for the generosity for sharing the knowledge!

    • Guillaume


  2. Darlene Nagatani

    Typical JB a giver, not a taker. By giving, more and more fans are writing. And writing lies in the heart of Joe Bunting. Thanks JB for making it your life’s work to share your craft and teach your hard won expertise. Any aspiring writer found his pot of gold at the end of The Write Practice rainbow.

  3. Nora

    love your website and your writing tips.

  4. Degreat

    This great work and sacrificial gift. Thank you sir.

  5. Sandy

    Thanks for the tips and encouragement. It really helps.

  6. Nancy

    The generosity point seems counter-intuitive, but it just might be worth a try. Thanks.

  7. Ronnie Antik

    I’ve written a book (!) What if I publish it (for free, online) and then what if I want to change or modify it…Is there a way to pull it back, sort of “unpublish it”?

    • Joey

      Ronnie, if you’re using a service like Smashwords or Amazon’s KDP, you can simply upload a new version of your book to “overwrite” the one you had published. Hope that helps!

  8. Karina

    Love the advice, relationships are important, its just not that common to read stuff from perfect strangers. Communication first!

  9. ashley.K.Blade

    your videos have helped me.

    yesterday I completed writing my prologue and i’ve emailed it to some of my friends

  10. Mary Sheridan

    Thanks for offering us your story, Hands. It’s beautifully written and, as an added bonus for me, I could tell, before the character said so, that it was set in Santa Barbara. Did you used to live here? I see in your bio that you live in Georgia now.

  11. Debbi

    Thanks for your generosity and encouragement, it really helps. This is a great free series. Your tips and heartfelt advice all make a difference. It helps keep me going.

  12. Diane

    Joe, thank you for sharing what you’ve learned along the way that’s helped you become a successful writer! I was happy to hear that publishing can take many forms and doesn’t have to be complicated, nor does the piece have to be long. I haven’t shared much of my writing, but when I shared a poem that I had written for fun about my granddaughter’s hands, my sister in law praised my writing and she also begged me to keep sharing my writing. Your encouragement is the added push I need to get me sharing/publishing. Thank you!

  13. Kim

    Thanks for everything you do! This has been a great course.

    I put my book in one of those little free libraries this week. It’s located just down the street from where I live, and it made me very happy to put my book on the little shelf.

  14. Lilian Gardner

    Thank you so much for these three free and advice-filled lessons.
    You are one of the most generous and honest writers that I know.
    I’d love to upload a couple of short stories to Amazon but do I need a book cover, front matter and anything else? Can I use a pen name?


    Outstanding lesson series. Thank you! I listened to all three lessons back to back and took some pretty decent notes. I went out to Amazon and read the sample of your short story “Hands.” It was so great; I plan to go back and finish it.
    Thank you for all the wonderful, free information and instruction you are providing. I truly appreciate it.

  16. Lucy Lombos

    Great writing tip(s)! Well, a total of 3. Thank you! 🙂

  17. Linda Kasten

    I believe people who are passionate about something find it easy to be generous. Sharing what you have learned encourages others and boosts their confidence. Many people thought I was wrong to offer free services to others, but it does pay off in the long run. Your example in generosity confirms that rewards are not always tangible.

    • Olujide Adegboye

      Relationship with readers, association with writers, and generosity.
      This is mind-blowing! Giving is living.
      This is quite instructive.
      As arduous as being an author is, you have made it look so simple.

  18. HoVidos

    It’s amazing designed for me to have a web page, which
    is helpful designed for my knowledge. thanks admin


Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Viewing Highlight