The Secret Behind Every Bestselling Book

The Secret Behind Every Bestselling Book

If there is one question that a lot of writers who want to be able to cut back on their day job and maybe someday live off their writing ask themselves, it is what the secret behind a bestselling book is. In my writing journey and research on how to improve my writing, I’ve stumbled upon some advice that I think is true when it comes to what all bestsellers have in common. 

The Secret Behind Every Bestseller is: SUSPENSE

Contrary to what many people think suspense doesn’t mean you have to write a thriller. It means that you have to have some kind of question that is unanswered in the story. Will the guy get the girl? If you’ve read Story Engineering it could be the concept for your story. Alyssa Matesic is a book editor who explains how to create suspense in any kind of story in this video.

How to Create Suspense in Any Story

In Masterclass Dan Brown, one of the great masters of writing thrillers, says that suspense is created by using the Three C’s:

  • The Contract – depending on the genre you have to deliver on the promise you’ve made when you’ve chosen the genre. Will the couple end up together? Will the police find the killer? 
  • The Clock  – time pressure makes the stakes go up.
  • The Crucible – not letting the characters run away, they have to face the villain.

When it comes to creating suspense in a story, I think that planning your story plays a big part in it. If you start by creating a strong outline with a clear story structure and well-thought-out plot points, you can focus on creativity and tone of voice when writing your first draft. Remember that the first draft is just a draft and it does not have to be perfect. Do edition research and polish your draft later.

Even if suspense is the key factor for creating a bestseller, there are a few things you can do to boost your chances of success:

  • Invest in professional editing to improve the overall quality of your manuscript.
  • Build a strong author platform with writers or readers who will read your book as soon as it is published. These super fans may also recommend your book to others.
  • Market yourself and your book online to reach a wider audience.
  • Engage with readers by responding to comments and positive reviews.

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