Friday, February 4, 2022

Tips on Writing Bestsellers


A recent WRITER’S DIGEST newsletter offers an interesting article entitled: “How to Create a Bestselling Novel”. Librarian Nancy Pearl is quoted as having a theory she calls the Four Doorways, which states that, for readers, there are four main doorways into fiction. These doorways are story, character, setting, and language. 

Robin Cook claimed to have analyzed the characteristics of numerous bestsellers before writing his own blockbuster COMA.

GalleyCat’s Infographic explored the anatomy of bestsellers. Here are some of their more interesting observations and statistics: 

Bestsellers today generally have active narratives, shorter sentences, and simple vocabularies.

Exclamation marks are a negative!!

Titles should be short and simple, not complex.

 They found the length of the average bestseller to be 375 pages. 

Books with a female protagonist are more likely to be successful.

But men are more likely to read a book with a male protagonist. 

Main characters or protagonists in bestsellers are often lawyers or detectives.

Books set in America are most popular. 

The number one grossing genre in fiction is still Romance.

Second is: Crime/Mystery.

Third is: Inspirational or Religious. 

Fourth is: Science Fiction and Fantasy.

Fifth is: Horror (Stephen King eat your heart out!) 

For a detailed article, check this out: 

 11 Steps to Writing a Bestselling Novel (Infographic) ( 

February is the month for celebrating romance. At the current time, besides mystery novels and short stories, I am reading recent Regency romances, the quality of which is quite good. They provide an escape from depressing modern realities.

 If you are interested in historical romance, I recommend the following authors: Jane Ashford, Anna Bradley and Anna Harrington. I find all three to have written quality Regency romance. Also, I’ll mention my historical romances SINFUL SEDUCTION and HIGHLAND HEART published by Luminosity and available from Amazon, as well as THE KILLING LAND, a Western romance from Five Star/Cengage.

Personally, I would love to write a bestseller, a novel that is widely read and appreciated. However, I would be just as pleased to write a great novel, one that endures the test of time. Yet an article in a June 2016 issue of TIME Magazine observed we can’t really know which books they will be. 

Moby-Dick, Herman Melville’s masterpiece, was not well-received in its day. Melville died poor and depressed. Poe died in poverty as well. Kafka was dead before The Trial was ever published. However, Shakespeare was a very successful and popular dramatist in his own day and has withstood the test of time.

 In But What if We’re Wrong? Thinking About the Present as if It Were the Past, author Chuck Klosterman noted that works which endure are ones future societies find meaningful. Someone who is writing in obscurity today, who we have never heard of, could be the most admired author to future generations.

 I believe the best approach is to write the work that we want to write, that is meaningful to us, and not worry about current trends which ultimately come and go.

 Any thoughts you might have regarding popular fiction vs. great fiction? Can a book be both?