Writing Bestsellers (Part 2) — “The Formula” and “The Algorithm”

Writing books is not easy, let alone writing bestsellers.

First, an author has to develop a compelling premise and interesting characters and a plot worth reading. Before you jump in and begin writing—or even during your writing—consider doing some research.

I cannot tell you how many times I’ve edited books that I believe could be monumental bestsellers … if the author was willing to start from scratch and rebuild on his or her premise. Unfortunately, many authors simply do not want a “re-do” (they believe strongly in their story as is), or they cannot invest in the cost of re-envisioning the manuscript (meaning, hiring an editor to tear it apart and put it back together).

In these instances, I do my best within the parameters of the editing agreement and the price the author is willing to pay. Some insist on only simple proofreading—and that’s what they get, whether the manuscript needs more work or not. Others are willing to pay for a full developmental edit. I blogged about this collaboration here.

Writing Bestsellers by Formula and/or Algorithm

I’ve blogged about who has written the most renowned bestsellers and bestselling series here, and how they achieved bestseller status here. But this particular post is about formula and algorithm.

1.) Some authors have used a formula for writing bestsellers as reported in an interesting article in The Huffington Post.

2.) Some authors have used an algorithm for writing bestsellers as reported in The Guardian.

Please check out both of the articles above before you begin your odyssey through a manuscript … that is, if you want tips on what makes a book a bestseller.

Writing Bestsellers By Formula

Writing Bestsellers

In Peter Winkler’s HuffPo article, he describes how “creative writing professor and novelist James W. Hall tries his hand at teasing out the magical, alchemical recipe for creating a bestseller in his new book, Hit Lit: Cracking the Code of the Twentieth Century’s Biggest Bestsellers” — and how Hall analyzed Gone With the Wind, Peyton Place, To Kill a Mockingbird, Valley of the Dolls, The Godfather, The Exorcist, Jaws, The Dead Zone, The Hunt for Red October, The Firm, The Bridges of Madison County and The Da Vinci Code.

Read the article to learn more about the “10-Step” formula—you’ll be glad you did.

Writing Bestsellers By Algorithm

Donna Ferguson’s piece in The Guardian describes how commissioning editor Jodie Archer used her computer to determine an algorithm unique to bestsellers: “It doesn’t matter whether a book is published as literary fiction, romance, sci-fi, crime or any other genre, there are some latent features of bestseller-dom in manuscripts and these patterns are detectable by a computer algorithm,” she [Archer] says.

Writing Bestsellers

I recommend that you read The Guardian article and perhaps check out Archer’s book, The Bestseller Code, on Amazon.

The strategize about your own potential bestseller, contact me!

I’m an email away at melaniesaxton@icloud.com.