How I Turned My Debut Novel into an Amazon Bestseller (Part 1 of 3) – The Groundwork

I released the first eBook version of my book Maya’s New Husband as a self-published author on 3 Jan 2015. It immediately hit the Amazon Hot New Releases charts at #1 the first day itself and then the Amazon India Bestseller list, peaking at #1 several times. In fact, even now, eighteen months after its release, the book continues to be at the top of the Amazon India charts, almost always in the top 10 positions. Even on Goodreads, it has a solid rating of 4 out of 5 stars, and as many as 65 reviews and 130 ratings.

People often ask me what I did to bring my book to this kind of acclaim. Hence I thought I would rather blog about it and keep it here for posterity. So, here goes.

In this first part of this three-part series, I talk about the things I did before actually beginning to write even the first word of my novel. Yes, if you plan to be a recognized author, the groundwork is extremely important.

(Disclaimer: The following strategies worked for me. They may not work for you, or they may. And they do entail a fair amount of work. If you are expecting a magic trick, this is your cue to bail out of this page.)

  1. I created a blog six months before I wrote my first book. You definitely need a website or a blog if you are going public. Once your name is out there, people will want to check you out. That is what the website/blog helps you achieve.

  2. Once the blog was made, I started putting up short stories on it every Friday. I went all out to make these short stories as interesting as possible, working on them over and over again, each word and phrase, till I thought they were ready to go. One thing I would like to say here – at every step of my public writing journey, I have always been conscious of being read by a large number of people, and even judged. I make no mistake about that. I might be bordering on paranoia to be thinking of that at all times, but that paranoia helps me create good stuff.

  3. I made a Facebook author page. I kept, and still keep, this page clean and only about my writing work. I promoted the page on my timeline.

  4. I joined several author groups on Facebook. There are tons of them that are really great. I joined not just national but also international groups, because that’s where the real fun lies. I participated in them with meaningful discussions and contributed with my knowledge of the language and the craft. I helped other aspiring authors with my feedback. It helped me make some good friends.

  5. I made a Twitter account, a Pinterest account, an Indiblogger account, a LinkedIn profile, everything. I may not be active in all of these places, but I do have all those accounts and I try to keep them updated.

  6. I started sharing my free stories on these accounts. But not just like that. I designed cover pages for all my stories. Yes, the visual representation is very important. I cannot stress that enough. A lot of people have told me that they have clicked on my page just because the cover page looked appealing. Knowing that, I design cover pages for even a 1000-word short story.

  7. I shared free stories on Wattpad and Figment. I participated in their swap-stories-for-review exchanges. I got great reviews everywhere. I made sure I posted one story every Friday. A time soon arrived when people started waiting for my stories each Friday. A reader actually told me he expected to see a new story from me each Friday. It made me feel high!

  8. I started talking with people who had already gotten published. I found out about their process, and I did research on publishing houses. I saw how traditional publishing compared with self-publishing. I ruled out vanity publishing entirely because that is only another way of insulting your own work before others do it.

  9. I then began outlining my first novel. This happened around August 2014. I spent a lot of time thinking over it, and I spoke with my family about it. Their encouragement was a huge motivating factor.

  10. Around sometime there, I joined a phenomenon that changed my life. It was www.NaNoWriMo.org. I had joined its unofficial Facebook group earlier and I was also a member of its India page, Wrimo India. And then, when the month of NaNoWriMo 2014 started, my journey as a writer truly began.

In the next part of this series, I shall be talking about how NaNoWriMo helped me emerge as a writer, and how I actually went through the writing process. I shall also be talking about the groundwork I did to launch my book.

Stay tuned.

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