Think Beyond Bookstores: Other Ways to Become a Best-Selling Author

Becoming a best-selling author is what most writers dream of.

Yet most authors won't write books that become best-sellers.

At least, their books won't be best-sellers in the traditional sense.

The traditional way to become a best-selling author is to write a book that a traditional publisher buys, publishes, promotes, and puts in bookstores all across the country - and maybe even across the planet.

J.K. Rowling, Dan Brown, and Danielle Steel all became best-selling authors this way.

But there are many other authors who have taken a somewhat different path to writing best-selling books, and you probably have never even heard of most of these authors.

What Did They Do?

Well, here are a few possibilities.

1. They Sold Books to Corporations or Organizations

First, some of these authors may have written a book that had wide appeal to a particular niche market.

But rather than rely on bookstores to sell their book, they sold their book in large quantities to corporations or organizations within their niche market.

Just imagine... you've written a book with tips for parenting children with asthma.

Wouldn't it be nice to get booked as a speaker for an educational program provided by the American Lung Association who purchases your book as part of the materials for the program?

It wouldn't take long to sell thousands of copies of your book this way.

2. They Created a Wide Launch on Amazon

Other authors set up launch dates on and became best-selling authors strictly online this way.

Generally, this requires partnering with other professionals in your field who agree to promote your book on your launch date and offer an e-book or other product of their own as a free bonus when someone purchases your book from

This method can be so effective that often it results in best-seller status within a single day.

3. They Used Social Media to Sell Books

Some authors these days are able to get to best-selling status by growing and leveraging their social media.

They don't target too many different social media platforms, however.

They choose the one (or ones) that appeal to their target market.

Pinterest, for a younger female audience, or Instagram, for millleninials, for example.

None of these methods of selling large quantities of books involves bookstores.

That doesn't mean a particular book can't also be sold in bookstores.

It just means an author isn't dependent on bookstores for the vast majority of sales of his books.

So, as you're writing your book, think beyond bookstores to become a best-selling author.

Try it!

And if you have a great book marketing tip, please share it here in a comment.

For more tips, resources, and other helpful information about writing and the business of writing, get your free subscription to The Morning Nudge at

Suzanne Lieurance is a fulltime freelance writer, writing coach, certified life coach, and the author of over 30 published books. Visit her blog at


Terry Whalin said...


Thanks for this post and the ideas for every author. It's a well-known fact for those of us in publishing that half of the book sales are outside the bookstore. It's why people like Brian Jud have books called Beyond the Bookstore (with excellent ideas--track down this book even you get it used or from your library). You have hopefully opened a new perspective for many writers with this article.

author of 10 Publishing Myths, Insights Every Author Needs to Succeed

Linda Wilson said...

Yes, Suzanne, your article is very helpful to me as I embark on a new publishing journey with the pending publication of my first book. Thank you for sharing your expertise. It is much appreciated.

deborah lyn said...

Great & helpful tips Suzanne! I'd like add one more to your list. Retailers. My husband's best selling distributors of two of his non-fiction historical books regarding the Santa Clara Valley, CA, have been a local coffee shop, and a car wash with 3 locations. They display the books near the cash register.

Carolyn Howard-Johnson said...

Suzzanne, you said it. Yay! Allow me to be a bit snarky here, but most the bookstores that thrived respected and supported #indieauthors. Even Amazon did better when they instituted benefits that helped indies and small presses. #Bookbigotry is a bad idea just like any other kind. Books judged on their content can indeed be bestsellers by doing just what big publishers do—that is, marketing them.

Karen Cioffi said...

Suzanne, thanks for sharing these helpful book marketing tips. Years ago I was involved in a joint venture book launch. It can be a lot of work, but the benefits can be worth the effort. There are so many places to sell books, even local stores.

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