Popular books all have one thing in common. They speak to only one person: the person who is reading the book.
And while this statement sounds rather ridiculous, think about it for a moment. Because this one person turns out to be many, many people who all have this one thing in common. And because they all have this one thing in common, they all like this one book. Which then becomes one of the top books to read.
And as is the case with popular books, each one of these individuals who reads this book tells everyone in their social network that this is the best book they have ever read. Then everyone else in that person’s social network buys the book. Just because this person told them they had to buy it. Or they would be missing out on the whole point of existing. Then these people tell everyone in their social networks to buy the book. And they do. Then this book to read becomes the most read book of all time.
And as a writer (or a reader) you've probably done this yourself after you have read one of the most read books of all time. Or, maybe it was the other way around - and one of your friends told you to read it.
One of the books to read that you just have to read
Because that's how it works with popular books.
So how do you find this first person who will buy your book, and then sell it for you by recommending it, so that it gets on the list of must-read books?
The problem with new writers is that they don’t write for that ground-zero reader who will launch their book into the top 100 books to read status. Because you first have to write something really worth reading for that one person, and then let them come to you. Which makes finding your book - their discovery. Thereby allowing them to set a new trend. And your book will make it on a list of most popular books.
So here are four ways to write one of the top books to read, without looking like you are trying to purposely write a bestselling book. (Because your ground zero trendsetter won’t buy into anything that looks like it was written with the intent of appealing to the masses on purpose.)
Writing Popular Books Tip #1. Write for only one person.
Never try to write a book that appeals to everyone because it will actually appeal to no one. Instead, write a book for your best friend. Your imaginary best friend that not everyone likes or agrees with. This is a book that will speak to that one new person who finds it. Your new best friend who will promote your book to the whole world on social media. It will help to imagine who this person is. And this doesn't mean age and gender. Those are just generic demographics.
Which makes this another mistake new writers make. They write a children's book or a romance and assume everyone in this demographic group will read this book.
But you can't just write a popular book for young adults, popular books for women, or a popular book for teens simply because you have a clever idea that you think will sell a lot of copies. Because they won't buy it. This is especially true if you are writing books that kids can read. (Don't even bother if you don't have that one child you are writing for in mind, because they are the most perceptive audience of all.) Even books to read for adults will not sell if you don't have that one person you are writing for.
So instead, ask some more personal questions about your ground zero reader. Who are their friends? Where do they hang out? What do they do in their spare time? Write out a full description of your ground zero reader first, and constantly refer back to it as you write. You will have a much better chance at writing one of the top 10 books to read if you work this way.
Writing Popular Books Tip #2. Keep it short and direct.
Long-windedness is your worst enemy. And it’s not that people’s attention spans are so short. They still watch the Super Bowl and the Oscars. But when people read, they need something simple they can digest in one comfortable sitting at a time. And they want to understand what you have to say, then agree or disagree immediately, and mark each of your assertions as a favorite - or dismiss your point completely. For now.
Until your new ground-zero reader comes along (the one who also sets the trends in their own social circles) and blogs the 10 reasons why everyone should love your book. And then everyone they know gives you a like on Facebook. If they haven’t already.
And remember, people also need reasonable stopping points when they read your book for practical reasons. Like living their lives. So writing lengthy chapters doesn't make much sense. Plus, if someone who is a casual reader picks up a book with chapters that look like endless droning, they will put it right back on the shelf.
Writing Popular Books Tip #3. Get to the point right away, then back it up with facts.
Again, say what you have to say, and then start with some facts that back up what you have to say. And it doesn't matter whether you are writing a novel or a self-help book. People are so savvy with information these days, they can look up both the facts that disprove your self-help theories, and your what your main character would do as a heart surgeon. Immediately.
For self-help books: Use statistics, studies, polls, laws, quotes, sales figures - anything that confirms your theories or statements. People may not agree with you, but they love empirical data. And they love to respond with their own opinions about it. But you have to be right with your data first.
For novels: Do your research. If it doesn't snow in the fall in a certain part of the country, it's the first thing people will google on the internet to disprove your story and then read something else.
Writing Popular Books Tip #4. Have a specific plan of action.
For self-help books: OK, you’ve presented a problem, but what does your reader do about it? Popular books require remedies to eliminate or at least alleviate a personal problem that your reader is experiencing. Did you have this same problem? Or, are you a trained professional in this area? What did you do about it for yourself, or how did you help others? This is what makes popular books personal and readable.
Also make sure to include resources like places to shop, groups to join, or websites to visit. Keeping in mind that the most popular books provide a complete solution or answer for the reader so that they can resolve an issue for good.
For novels: Present an extraordinary problem right from the start, but make sure you can solve it. Then take your readers on the ride of a lifetime.
I know you can do it.
See also: https://brenthollister.blogspot.com/