How To Write A Bestseller

This post, from Robert Gregory Browne, originally appeared on his Casting the Bones site on 6/16/09.

Okay, I’ll tell you this right up front.  That title is misleading.


Because the truth is, NOBODY can tell you how to write a bestselling novel.  Nobody.  I don’t care if they’ve sold a gazillion books themselves, there is no person on this planet who can tell you how to write something that will rocket to the bestseller lists.  Not even the publishers know how to get their books on the bestseller lists.  If they did, every book they published would be there.

I decided to write this post because I was searching the Internet for subjects to write about when I stumbled across a writer’s website that had an article with a title very similar to the title of this post.  So I took a look at the post and surprise, surprise, the author had included some good advice, but none of it really had anything to do with writing a bestseller.

So I used the same trick he did by using a misleading title.  And I’ll bet your adrenalin rose just a little when you saw it, right?

But here’s the thing.

If you sit down to write a “bestseller,” or a blockbuster movie, you are taking a wrong-headed approach to writing.  Writing great fiction has nothing to do with writing bestsellers.  Bestsellers are, by and large, flukes.  Right place, right time.  And not all bestsellers are created equal.

I can name a dozen of my friends who SHOULD be on the bestseller lists and a dozen authors who are and don’t — to my mind at least — belong there.  But that’s neither her nor there.

You should not and cannot even worry about writing a bestseller.  You can and SHOULD simply write the best book you can possibly write, with a story you just have to tell.  You need to be so excited about the work that you’d write it even if you knew, for certain, that you’d never make a dime off of it.

Read the rest of the post on Casting the Bones.

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