Lately, I’ve been writing a lot about how to write bestsellers and how to create a career as a bestselling author. I don’t want you to think, however, that becoming a bestselling author is all about money. Of course, for publishers (even indie publishers), success is equivalent to sales, which means money. But not every author defines success in this manner, and there are other important reasons to strive for bestseller status.
For your book to become a bestseller it must sell a lot of copies. In fact, it must outsell the other titles in its category. Sometimes that equates to a handsome check; sometimes it does not. A category could have low book sales in general. That means you don’t have to sell many copies to get on the Amazon Top 100 list, and bestseller status won’t bring in huge sums of money. If your book is low-priced, it can be a bestseller and not pay your bills. The majority of bestselling authors don’t make a living off book sales.
And some authors are not in it for the money.
When Sales (Money) Isn’t Important
I can think of four reasons to craft bestselling books and to develop a career as a bestselling author that don’t involve earning a huge income from royalties. (That doesn’t mean sales don’t matter.) Here they are:
- You want to get read. You want to share your message or story. Fame and fortune don’t factor into your decision to become an author, even though these are nice results. You’re primary goal involves reaching as many readers as possibly, so you can share your words. More simply put, you want your work widely read. This achievement requires selling many books because sales equate to readers.
- You want to impact your readers in a positive or meaningful manner. Similar to the first reason, this one goes beyond the desire to be read. You want to write a book because you feel compelled to do so. Something inside pushes you to become an author. You sense that becoming an “Author of Change” is your purpose. You want to start a movement or create change on some level—personal, organizational, societal, or global. To accomplish this, you know your book needs to reach as many readers as possible. That means it must sell an above-average number of copies.
- You want to build a new business or boost an existing business. As the adage goes, a book is the best business card you can hand out. Becoming an author gives you authority, credibility and influence. Your book provides a platform from which to showcase your knowledge, experience and expertise. You want to use it as the crux of you speaking, coaching, teaching, or online marketing business—or any other type of business! Your book becomes a customers or client magnet. For it to attract a lot of potential business, you have to reach a lot of potential readers—and sell a lot of copies.
- You want to continue to write books. A bestseller can be your ticket to a traditional book deal. If you are traditionally published, a successful book—one with above average sales—can land you a second or third book contract. Also, your status as a bestselling author can attract more readers to your new books (no matter how you publish them). A self-published author with a successful book might attract a traditional publisher as well. In general, a career as a bestselling author helps you and your forthcoming books succeed.
If you want to become a bestselling author, answer this simply question: Why? It’s important to define success for yourself and by your own standards and values.
I’m sure you can think of additional reasons that don’t focus on money to pursue bestseller status for your books, and I’d love to hear them. Please leave me a comment below with your additions to my list.
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