How to Become a Bestselling (Romance) Author

I don’t know how to become a bestselling non-genre writer, which is what I am — a non-genre writer. (Recently a reviewer took exception to my non-genre status, giving A Spark of Heavenly Fire only two stars because she expected the novel to be romantic/suspense, an action/adventure or a good mystery. She admitted the book contained all of these elements but not enough to tag the story as such. I wanted to leave a “duh” response, but I’ve been around long enough to know that arguing with a reviewer is never a good idea.) But I do know a bit about how to beome a bestselling romance writer since I’ve studied so much of their techniques in my quest to become a bestseller myself.

First, write good story, create or have a cover designer create a compelling cover that says “buy me,” and give your book a thorough edit or get someone to do it for you. A good editing is paramount. With so many romance novels on the market, you need to be a bit better than average to stand out. (Unless, of course, you are the first person to write erotic vampire bondage books or any such novelty, then of course, you can write however you wish.)

Second, finish book two and three in the series, and give them a good editing, also. Then give away the first book in the series to as many people as possible using a Smashwords coupon. Give the book away on blogs, on FB, as a mass mailing, maybe even on Smashwords itself for a short time. Sign up for a giveaway on Goodreads, LibraryThing, and wherever else you can. But this only works after the three books are published because otherwise it doesn’t gain you much of a marketing advantage. If all the books are published and readers like the first book in a series, they will buy the others. There are too many books published now for readers to want to wait for additional books in a series, which is why more than one book in a series needs to be published if you really want the marketing push to count. If the book is professional, one of a published series, is romance and especially regency romance, and has a touch of eroticism (more than a touch is even better), that’s all you have to do. Amazon’s algorithms will do the rest. Theoretically, at least.

Although social networking is often touted as the best way of promoting books, it is slow and doesn’t really help a lot in making you a bestselling author, but it can increase awareness of your books once you become known. Also, a bit of social networking can help you find other romance writers who might promote your books if you promote theirs (such reciprocal promotions have catapulted many romance authors and thriller writers into stardom). You might even find fans who will be delighted to help spread the word about your book for a bit of swag. It’s good to have a blog or be part of a multi-author blog so your readers can keep up with you, though you don’t have to blog regularly, just once a week on a personal blog or once a month on a multi-author blog since for the most part blogging doesn’t sell books.  A Facebook presence or a Twitter account is also nice, but none of these will make you a bestselling author by themselves. Oh, sure, there are people who have made a killing using Facebook, but they are generally those who sell books about how to make a killing on Facebook. And some people play the link (spam) game, posting their book links to thousands of groups on Facebook, but since most of the people in those groups are also playing the link game, the results are variable.

In today’s book world, as much as I hate to admit it, Amazon is the key.

If you don’t have a romance series or if you do have such a series and wish to give your book an extra push, do KDP select but list the book for $.99 on free days. You don’t get as many downloads as you would if the book were free, but the book stats are figured with the regular books not the free books, and so it has a longer lasting effect.

In addition, try giveaway sites like, 99 cent sites like and paid sites like

This is such good advice, I wish I were interested in writing romance series!

As for A Spark of Heavenly Fire: if you’re interested in seeing if the above mentioned reviewer is correct, until November 23, 2014, A Spark of Heavenly Fire will be available at 50% off from Smashwords, where you can download the novel in the ebook format of your choice. To get your discount, go here: A Spark of Heavenly Fire and use coupon code ST33W when purchasing the book. (After you read the book, posting a review on Smashwords would be nice, but not obligatory


Pat Bertram is the author of the suspense novels Light Bringer, More Deaths Than One, A Spark of Heavenly Fire, and Daughter Am I. Bertram is also the author of Grief: The Great Yearning, “an exquisite book, wrenching to read, and at the same time full of profound truths.” Connect with Pat on Google+. Like Pat on Facebook.

The point of writing is simply . . . writing

The book statistics continue to dishearten me. A recent study of 1,007 self-published authors shows that romance authors earned 170% more than the average, while science-fiction writers earned 38% of the average, fantasy writers 32%, and literary fiction authors just 20%. Even though I’m not self-published, these figures matter because they show the trend. Most of the books that are selling are romances, and most of the selling romances are written by well-educated women in their forties. Typically, 75% of the total sales were made by 10% of the authors.

That’s good news for women who write romances, but what about the rest of us? I don’t want to write to make money — I want to make money from what I write, which is something completely different. Considering that my books are genre-benders and that most readers seem to stick with recognizable genres and story lines, it’s not surprising that my books are slow sellers. Even if I wanted to write to sell, I’m not sure I could. Chances are, if I were to start out writing a romance, it would end up being something completely different after I filtered it through my writing voice. (Whatever voice that might be.) We can only write the books that are in us. And romance novels are nothing I have any interest in, either to read or to write.

Oddly, despite what I see as a dismal book climate, I am getting interested in writing again. My work-in-pause — a tongue in cheek apocalyptic novel — is so far out of the realm of any recognizable genre that it would probably be impossible to sell. (Even my father admits that it’s weird, and he likes my books.). But I’ve concluded that selling isn’t the point of writing, at least not for me. Nor is communicating with others. (That’s what this blog is for — to communicate with others.) The point of writing is simply . . . writing. Using my brain. Creating a world that didn’t exist before. (Could that be the point of life? The creation of a world that didn’t exist before? Hmmm. I wonder if there’s a book in that idea.)

I suppose my renewed interest in writing is inevitable. I’ve been spending less time online and more time in the real world. And for me, writing takes place in the real world. Or at least the real world of my mind.