Author Q’s: How to become a best selling author?


The latest in my series of blog posts, on interview questions I have enjoyed.

Having been interviewed by various people, magazines, and websites, I have plenty of Q and A to share.  When I was interviewed online by, they had over 200 sample questions to get the juices flowing. Here’s the latest Q and A.

Last time we talked about my own unique style of writing and voice. Now we’ll answer the burning question of all Indie Authors:


Q)  What is the secret to becoming a best-selling author?

A) Simple: Your book going viral on the internet.

HOW to do that on purpose is the secret wizard magic ninja sauce recipe, isn’t it? If I get there, you can bet that “how” will feature prominently in my soon to follow “how to become a bestselling author” book.

So this is not a question I can seriousy answer from my own experience, yet. I am watching closely the career path of many who have gone before, and learning from their successes and failures. Same as many of you.

I am working with an expectation to take a while to suddenly be discovered. This is the usual secret to sudden success reported by many overnight successes. After a long journeyman career of perserverance through many doubts, failures, and normal distracting difficulties of life, a talented person suddenly hits that major contact and blows up into the latest viral sensation.

If there is a way to “intentionally go viral,” I have yet to hit upon that magic potion. I am working on several possible answers reported by others.

~SEO magic. We should use our Website and its blog as our hub to first post articles on a routine basis. #ProTip: include the link to your site inside the post. [See below this article for my example.] Then share the post over to our Facebook author page. From there we can either share the posts to many author groups, or pay to gain reach to targetted followers. We then share the original blog post on Twitter, pin the pics on Pintrest, even add these articles to a Wikia site for your book “universe,” if you have one.

Obvious Author says to use rss to feed your blog to your Goodreads and Amazon blog locations. Whatever social media is relevant, post the link to it. Put a decent intro headline to encourage people to click through and read the rest of your article. All of this builds backlinks, which means “SEO,” via the links leading back to the original blog post, so your website ranks higher on Google.

~Building a large (social) following! Twitter is supposedly the way to find targetted potential customers. We authors call them readers and I’m sure they prefer that term as well. I have a following of 16,000+ right now on @MicheaLeeNelson but I have yet to turn on some flow of big ad posts to try to “sell” them my book. If it takes off I’ll be sure to update here.

~Video! Yes, this is growing to the point text posts are hardly read, photo posts get a fair but small fraction, while video such as GIFs, YouTube, Fb or Twitter live videos are said to have massively higher engagement and view rates. I read a pocket guide about how to go from zero to channels that sell books. Still just a tad outside my skillset so I’m reading and practicing how to bridge the gap.

Supposedly you embed your website and Amazon, etc. book links into the videos and it helps with your SEO a LOT, so you are found more easily and often by reader’s google searches. I will be happy to report success on this. Stay tuned.

~Influencer marketing.  This is the new-fangled version of the old “who you know” thing. Referal marketing– word of mouth — has always been the most successful form of advertising since the first stone wheels were traded for food. Influencers are a bit more like stars of the niche on social media. So aligning with them, getting noticed, getting a review posted about you or your book. Or at least a retweet of your sales posts. That’s the idea.

I do know from my twitter efforts, few will follow back. But those who do tend to respond to following them, and RT-ing their pinned and top posts, and then regular RT’s in the niches they dominate. When you post meaningful content that they too can retweet, then you’ll be seen more as a peer and can get those mentions and maybe followed by the rockstar, that will help you go nova.

~Grow your body of work. This means keep writing. A debut novel is rarely a best seller.  God bless you to those who have done this. But more likely is the longer path of writing and writing and building up a series of novels or a set of works. At some point the collective total catches someone’s attention and suddenly you are “discovered” and go big in a hurry. This story is told by actors, musicians, athletes, writers, and artists of every stripe the world over. Just keep writing.

For us fiction writers this is actually a quite practical career step. Readers seems to like grabbing book one of a series of novels, when they know there are two more to come if they like it. So get that outline dusted off and map out book 2 and 3 and beyond. Start a tickler file and throw in ideas as they come. Be always writing and your quality will improve, as well. That’s another practical thing to help your sales increase and up your chances of getting awards. Better writing gets better reviews.

~Enter writing contests. This is one I have not done nearly enough. I’m sure this is a publisher service that they do to help their mid-grade authors. So if you are wearing all three hats be sure to seek and submit to writing contests from time to time. It might take creating fresh short stories to publish in magazines or fanfic sites. That’s good excercise for flexing your muscles. I look at each chapter as a potential stand-alone story, so it can be practical experience for writing better major work as well.


Find my full interview.

Next time we will get into more questions #OnWriting. From my excellent interview by Susanne Lucey of Page 158 Books in Wake Forest, N.C., I will adress Mysogeny in Scifi.


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