What makes a best seller?

Brian Hill and Dee Power wanted to know what makes a book successful. So they researched the concept and published their answers in The Making of a Bestseller: Success Stories From Authors and the Editors, Agents and Booksellers Behind Them. They talked with more than one-hundred editors and agents to find out, in brief, that the most important factors in a book’s success are (in order):

  1. the author’s previous success
  2. the quality of writing
  3. the timeliness of the topic
  4. the author’s fan base
  5. word of mouth advertising from readers
  6. efforts of the author to promote the book
  7. publicity
  8. reviews
  9. paid advertising

Hill and Power have also released some extremely helpful answers to some very interesting questions on their Web site, www.BrianHillAndDeePower.com. The questions and answers—most of them would be quite difficult to find answers for—are primarily about query letters and the query process, but frequently touch on other topics.