Last updated on November 19th, 2022 at 04:33 pm
“There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.”
— Maya Angelou
The journey of becoming a best-selling author: In 2021, I became a best-selling author after publishing my first book, Crystal Clear: A Journey of Self-Discovery (From Public Housing to Ivy League). I was a full-time doctoral student and part-time Army Officer then, as well as running a start-up company on the side.
Please believe me when I say that becoming a best-selling author is possible for you as well.
You must commit to seeing your dreams fulfilled before starting your journey, just as I did.
BECOMING A BEST-SELLer Checklist!
Guess what?! I created a Becoming A Best-Seller checklist for you so that you can document your progress on your author journey.
I hope it is helpful!
Just click the button below to access your FREE BECOMING A BEST-SELLER checklist.
Happy Writing! 🙂
In this blog post, I will list the essential steps that I used to become a first-time best-selling author after completing Self-Publishing School’s Becoming A Best-Seller online course.
Secret to becoming a best-selling author at the bottom of this post that my publishing coach taught me!
related blog posts
Becoming A Bestselling Author! | My Story + Publishing Tips
Here is a video from my YouTube channel that also outlines the steps I took to become a best-selling author if you would rather watch me talk about this process. I provide a lot of helpful resources in the description box of this video also!
11 Steps to becoming a best-seller
Step 1. Imagine an end result for your finished book
(visualization process, i.e. why is it important for you to publish your book? Whom are you hoping to inspire/reach with this book?)
Why Are You Writing?
Almost 2,700 new books get launched every day. In the United States, over 650 million books are sold each year. Your book could be one of them, but you must find a reason that motivates you to write that next successful book and become a best-selling author.
Every writer has a different reason for beginning their author journey, and to become a best-selling author, you need to find your purpose. Your reason can change or develop. It may be to prove something, say something, or share something.
Whatever your reason is, make sure it’s strong enough to keep you going every day.
In my case, I was constantly being asked by students on social media about my journey from where I started in public housing apartments in rural Alabama to where I was at Yale University.
They all asked me the same question in one way or another, “What’s your story? How did you do it.” So, I decided that it would be practical for me to put my story in a book and provide insight for those seeking to make a similar passage through higher education.
This would allow me to serve more people as I finished my degree. I started writing with my intended results in mind: to serve others using my gifts.
Pro Tip: You can write more than one book at any point in your life. Just choose ONE book topic at a time.
Decide Your Audience
Who do you want to write this book for? What do those people want to read? What do those people need? This is the niche of your book.
Deciding your audience helps you narrow down your form. If you’re writing a book for 3rd graders, you’re going to use a distinct style and rhetoric than a book for neurosurgeons.
Homework: What are your two top reasons for writing a book?
Step 2. Develop a book outline with chapter titles and what you want to include in each chapter
(expect this to change as you begin writing. That's okay!)
The same essay outline process you learned in middle school, is the same one you will apply in your journey to publishing your first book and becoming a best-selling author.
There are no right or wrong answers for the number of book chapters. It’s your creative work after all! But you do want to make sure your book is easy to read. Think about some of your favorite books. How were the chapters outlined?
Model What Works!
It is okay to model other books when you are deciding how you want your book to look.
Also, book chapters change as you begin writing and that is okay. Below is a screenshot of my book outline just to give you an idea.
Tell a Story
Storytelling isn’t just for fiction. When used correctly, it is a powerful nonfiction tool. Storytelling is based on structure, not content. The only difference is that nonfiction is factual occurrences, rather than fabricated ones.
Storytelling doesn’t mean a simple narration of one’s life or experience but follows a three-act structure. All you need is a problem (shown in act one), obstacles (act two), and a solution (shown in act three).
“The most powerful person in the world is the storyteller. The storyteller sets the vision, values, and agenda of an entire generation that is to come.”
Step 3. Start writing the first draft of your book
(DO NOT EDIT WHILE YOU WRITE! This part of writing is meant to get everything from your head onto paper/computer)
You can’t become a best-selling author if you don’t have anything written, so the next step in this process is to JUST START.
It sounds simple but most people give up in this phase because they realize that writing a book is one of the most involved and challenging things you can do. If you can just start and not give up even when it gets tough you will have your first best-selling book before you know it!
“There is nothing that requires you to think more deeply than to write a book.”
Remember, NEVER EDIT YOUR WRITING IN THE FIRST DRAFT. Just get everything out of your head onto paper/computer. Channel your inner guidance and write with your heart. Release self-doubt and let your words flow.
There is no way around it.
There are no shortcuts.
To write a book, and become a best-seller, you must write.
When you write, you may start enthusiastically, but then you think too much and lose your momentum. The first pages might win awards, but after that, it turns to muck. How do you fix that? Keep writing.
Word vomit through the whole thing if you have to. Free-write. That means writing without a defined structure. You might delete it later. That’s fine. Write about whatever keeps you writing. Don’t worry about grammar or spelling during your first draft. It’s a waste of time. A word processor can help you fix it later.
Until then, turn the word processor off. Worry about quantity, not quality. Don’t worry if things make little sense or lack logical structures. All of that gets fixed later.
Use your book outline, if you chose to create one before writing, and tell your story.
Develop A Writing Schedule
The best time to write is the time that works for you. If you can only squeeze in an hour at midnight, make it a ritual. Becoming a best-selling author requires you to remain consistent.
Write every day. Make it a habit. It doesn’t matter if you don’t know what you’re writing, write something. Stick to the process.
Pro Tip: I suggest setting a date for the day you would like your first draft to be complete, and to go even further by setting a date for your publication day.
Find Your Writing Environment
The best environment for writing is somewhere you can put aside distractions and pump out your book. This may mean that you spend an hour in your parked car in the garage, or perhaps you need to wake up an hour early and walk to a nearby park. Go wherever it is you need to go to write your book.
For me, it was my closet with white Christmas lights I hung to set the atmosphere and a cozy rug I moved in to make things more comfortable. It worked!
Homework: Write down the top three places where you can spend some quality time writing your book.
Step 4. Start writing the second draft of your book
(still NO EDITING! Start comparing your outline with what you have written and make sure everything is there)
Do not edit in this phase of the writing process either! It is important that you focus on getting everything out of your head. Use the book outline you created from Step 2 and make sure that you have everything in each chapter that you wanted to talk about.
Starting Your Second Draft
If you’ve done it right, your first draft should look like trash with gems strewn between. The second draft is where you weed through everything you’ve written and organize it.
You’re going to be moving a lot of stuff around. It hurts, but you’re going to have to cut a few thousand words that just don’t fit. If they don’t serve your main purpose, they don’t belong.
Perfectionism kills productivity and is toxic to creativity. You want to write the best book possible, and you will, but not in your drafting phase. Published works get published because they’re done.
Don’t compare your work-in-progress to someone else’s finished product. Don’t worry if they seem so much more intelligent or aware. It only seems that way because their book is done.
When your book is complete, it will look just as cohesive and will be on its way to becoming a best seller!
The purpose of the first and second drafts is to finish as quickly as you can and get all of your ideas into your manuscript. Don’t do any editing until then.
Step 5. Begin the third draft of your book (Self-editing)
(okay, now you can edit haha! I recommend writing in Word and using the Read Aloud function for the self-editing phase)
Turn On the Editor
After going through and finishing a rough second draft, it’s finally time to turn on the word processor and let it fix all your grammar. This is helpful, but remember, you know more than the computer.
Sometimes it will tell you to fix things that are better as you wrote them. Writing is about making those decisions. This is your book. You decide what stays and what goes.
Seeing your work come together
This part of your writing process is pretty intense. It is the part of the writing process that left me crying in my closet for an hour straight. During this step, you will go through and read your entire book (several times). It was difficult because, for the first time in my life, I was seeing MY LIFE on paper.
I was seeing the ups and downs and realized that for the most part, I was never fully present for most of it. I was seeing how everything in my life, all the adversity, eventually served a purpose. This caused an emotional reaction.
Celebrate your progress with each step!
The self-editing phase allows you to start seeing your book come together. Celebrate this step because most writers give up long before they make it here.
Writing a book, especially a book that uses your life’s story to connect with readers, is a vulnerable process. Be ready for tears and uncomfortable thoughts. This is very normal and only a small part of the process. If your intentions are pure then your book will be received gracefully.
Just keep writing.
Step 6. (Optional) Find a professional editor
(totally optional but if you want to have a near-perfect self-published book, hiring an editor from Fiverr or Upwork will serve you well.)
No book is perfect. I read books all the time that have typos or the formatting is a bit funky. That isn’t to say that you shouldn’t take pride and making sure that you have the most polished product possible for your best-selling book.
invest in your work
Hiring an editor/proofreader required the most money in the process, but I would recommend it to most authors because it will be an opportunity for someone else to put their eyes on your work.
I hired a separate editor and proofreader for my first best-selling book, but you may be able to find an editor who provides proofreading services as well.
Step 7. Cover Design
(you can either hire a professional cover designer or make your own cover using Canva. I took my book cover pictures at JC Penny and hired a designer)
If you are self-publishing an eBook, you can find so many cheap services on Fiverr to help you design your eBook cover. Or you can do it yourself using Canva.
Check formatting requirements
However, for the print version of your book, I recommend hiring a cover designer to help you format the print cover properly for KDP/IngramSpark if you do not have any experience with their formatting requirements.
This process was relatively cheap, but I also completed this step while my editor had my manuscript.
Step 8. Formatting (eBook and/or print)
(If you hire a formatter, make sure they are aware of KDP's formatting requirements)
Formatting books can be very tricky if you don’t have experience with it, so you can get help formatting your eBook and print copies.
From the formatting stage, you will upload directly to KDP/IngramSpark so make sure that your book is fully edited and proofread BEFORE formatting.
You will upload your eBook as an EPUD file, and the print version will be uploaded as a PDF.
There are also plenty of great formatters on Fiverr. It’s best if you can find someone to format the eBook and print versions together if you are uploading both to KDP/IngramSpark.
Step 9. Gather a Launch Team
(collect the names and emails of at least 20 people who agree to read and review your book during launch week)
Create an email list!
This is the fun part! Reach out to everyone you know and let them know about your book. Ask them if they would be willing to read and review your book on Amazon when it officially launches.
I recommend getting their name and email for this. I used MailerLite to help me build my email list for my Launch Team.
Consider a Promo Week for your Book Launch
During launch week, I provided a discounted book price for my launch team so that more people would be able to buy it. I started with the eBook for $0.99 and the print version for $9.99. After my promo period was over and my book reached #1 Best Seller in two categories on Amazon, I increased my book prices.
Pro Tip: Your launch team is your secret weapon when it comes to your book becoming a best seller.
The more people you have to buy your book on a single day, the more likely you are to reach best seller because Amazon notices that people are interested.
I included some screenshots of what my book looked like during my launch week. Please understand that I would not have been able to become a best-selling author without having a Launch Team.
Step 10. Publish on KDP/IngramSpark
(there are several videos on YouTube that will walk you through the process of uploading your manuscript to KDP and IngramSpark)
Ready For Publishing
If you’ve gotten this far, it means that the exciting part is about to begin, and you are even closer to becoming a best-selling author!
Once you hit publish, that’s it! Be sure to celebrate because you are officially a published author!! It won’t be too long before you start climbing the charts.
Order Your Proof Copy!
Be sure to order your proof copy and look through it before you go public. Make sure the formatting is correct and the colors are what you want if you published a print version of your book.
Step 11. Launch your published book!!
(announce your book on social media and be sure to tell your Launch Team that you need their help getting your book to Best Seller status.)
You're an author!
After you approve your proof copy feel free to tell the world that you are OFFICIALLY a published author!
Add it to your resume, IG bio, everywhere! You did the work and you deserve to be celebrated for getting through the process.
Your book will live on forever. It is your legacy.
You Can Become a best-selling author with the right mindset! In writing, there are no prodigies. There are only those who are diligent, and those who are not.
Consistency is the greatest tool a person can possess. Consistency is more important than a word processor, a Ph.D., or a million-dollar editor. Best-selling authors do not write a best-selling book on the first page. They write it page after page, working at it every day, then going back and editing.
Talk To Others About Your Book - But Keep Drafts To Yourself.
Learn how to talk about your book with others. Supportive friends and families will inspire you and push you forward. Share ideas with them. They may even inspire some content for your book. Join a writing group if you can. They will push you and give you deadlines.
Wise Words for becoming a best-selling author
Don’t spend too long looking for advice. There are hundreds of thousands of tips and most of them you’ll figure out for yourself just by writing. Every author has a unique process. You need to find what works for you and not let anyone tell you otherwise.
That’s it. That’s everything you need to know to write your first best-selling book. You got this. It’ll take some work, and there’ll be hard days, but it’ll all be worth it. Happy Writing!
The secret formula
The secret to your book ranking high on Amazon and becoming a best-selling author is (1) finding relevant categories, (2) making sure that they are low in competition, and (3) utilizing your Launch Team to get the daily sales.
Publisher Rocket helps you research categories***
Do not forget that writing a good book is only part of the process.
Talk about your book and market, market, market!