Friday, February 29, 2008

What Makes a Bestseller?

Every writer dreams of becoming a best-selling author. But, as most of us know, that's a rare achievement that few ever attain. Fortunately, you don't have to be a best-seller to make a decent living as a writer.

Still, I ran across an interesting post from Joe Wickert, the Executive Publisher for Wiley & Sons. It's a few years old, but he gives a good summation of how best-sellers are created. These comments especially caught my attention:

"I feel (author platform is) the single most important ingredient for a bestseller. Sure, placement and promotional activity can boost sales of just about any book. But the sales difference between a book written by an author with a solid platform vs. one with a lesser or no platform is huge. Thanks to all the platform vehicles available these days, authors can help drive more sales than ever before."

Joe's blog is definitely worth reading. Check it out at:


Connie Brown said...

What does "author platform" mean?

Kristi Holl said...

Do think his statements apply equally to fiction and nonfiction? Also, to children's writers as well as writers for adults?

Rob Eagar said...

Thanks for your comments. Yes, all of my research says that a publisher's focus on an author's platform applies to every kind of author and book.

"Author platform" means your current actual group of readers, leaders, and fans who love your message and are likely to buy your future books.

A good way to gauge your platform are through numbers, such as:

- Email or print newsletter database size.
- Avg. daily unique visitors to your website or blog ("hits" mean nothing).
- Number of paid speaking events per year.
- Print, radio, TV, or online columnist and expert positions.
- Past book sales figures.

Publishers like to see proof that you have a large group of people who are interested in your message.