How to Become a Bestselling Author: Lesson 1
Every day I talk to writers who have a dream, a dream to support themselves and their families off the books they write, a dream to be the kind of author who gets stacks of letters from fans who talk about how their writing has changed their lives, a dream to feel inspired and creative every day.
In this series you’ll learn what it takes to become a bestselling author, specifically the three rules you need to follow to turn your publishing dream into reality.
Stay tuned for the next lesson coming soon!
If you don’t know me, my name is Joe Bunting, I’m an author and the founder of The Write Practice. And I’m so excited you’re here for this series on how to become a bestselling author.
The reason I’m so excited is because every day I talk to writers who have a dream, a dream to support themselves and their families off the books they write, a dream to be the kind of author who gets stacks of letters from fans who talk about how their writing has changed their lives, a dream to feel inspired and creative every day. Personally, I relate to that dream because growing up, as a young writer, that was my dream.
For me, it took me years to make any progress. I spent almost a decade trying to figure out the publishing industry. It’s a confusing business! There was so much I didn’t know about how to actually become a bestselling writer!
But over the last decade, my writing career has transformed from a dream to reality. I’ve written books that have been read by over 100,000 people. I’ve seen my name next to Ray Bradbury, Brene Brown, and Michael Lewis on the Amazon bestsellers list and have been in the top 50 of books sold worldwide. I’ve had people email me, saying things I’ve written have changed their lives. And since 2012, I’ve been able to make writing my full-time job.
I’ve accomplished all that by following three rules. These rules are by no means intuitive. Most writers I talk to are doing the exact opposite of these rules. They’re also not easy. It’s a challenge following them, and even after following them for the last almost ten years, I still make mistakes.
But these three rules do work. I’ve taught these rules to hundreds of writers, and so many of them have seen amazing results, going on to become published authors, even bestsellers, making writing their full-time career, and even building communities of raving fans.
In this series I’m thrilled to share these three rules with you, and my hope is that they will change your life as much as they’ve changed mine.
The three rules are:
Build your cartel.
In this series we’ll talk about each of these, but I like to start at the end, with a cartel because this idea change my life.
A “cartel” sound like a kind of sinister thing, but the reality is that the definition of a cartel is just “an agreement amongst competitors.”
Because here’s the thing: You and I, as writers, are both competitors. We’re competing over a limited number of readers who have a limited amount to spend on books and a limited amount of attention to read them.
As competitors, we could do everything we can to ensure the other writer fails. We could attack each other, refuse to work together, and generally treat each other with suspicion.
Or we could do something else. We could agree to work together, to let my audience become your audience, to share what we’ve learned, to try to help each other become more successful with the idea that if you succeed, then I will succeed. In other words, we could build a cartel.
And what I’ve found as I’ve looked at the lives of the most successful writers in history, people like J.R.R. Tolkien, Virginia Woolf, Ernest Hemingway, Mary Shelley, and William Shakespeare, I’ve found that they didn’t live the lives of the stereotypical writer, working alone in some attic in paris or a cabin in the woods. No, the most successful writers were part of cartels, they were friends with other writers who supported them, made them better, and helped them become successful.
How do you build a “cartel,” a community of other writers who can support you?
The first step is to stop trying to do it all yourself. Don’t be territorial. Don’t be so worried another writer is going to steal your ideas that you won’t share your writing with them. Don’t get defensive if another writer gives you feedback.
Instead, join a community. Don’t avoid other writers, join other writers. Be supportive of them. Read writers who are at the same level or just a little ahead. Ask them questions. Try to learn from them. Review for their books, and promote them to your readers. Help them. And be open to asking for help when you need it.
As you make relationships with other writers, you’ll find that you’ll become a better, more successful writer so much faster.
Bestselling authors aren’t made overnight. They’re made slowly, one relationship at a time. This is a long term strategy, not a short term get rich scheme. But it’s also timeless, proven, and most of all, it’s rewarding.
BUT, even the most connected writer won’t be successful if they never publish. So that’s what we’re going to talk about in the next lesson. Look for that in your inbox tomorrow.