Secrets to Writing a Best-Seller

Author Stephen King in Bridgton, Maine.Stephen King in Bridgton, Maine (picture © Rolling Stone).

If you’ve read my blog for any length of time, you know one of my favorite authors is Stephen King.

Not that I enjoy all of his work. I readily admit I don’t.

However, he did write some of my favorite stories. Among them: Shawshank Redemption, The Body (you may remember it better as the movie Stand by Me), The Green Mile, and The Shining.

Whether you like his stories or not, this much is absolutely true.

The man knows how to tell a story.

Books by American author Stephen Edwin King (born 9/21/47) … have sold more than 350 million copies. As a perennial member of the top-10 bestseller lists, he knows a lot about writing popular books.

With all his success, he’s still a big supporter of beginning authors. His amazing book, On Writing, is required reading on many author’s writing shelves, my own included.

You don’t have to be a fan of horror stories to recognize the worth of his advice to countless authors on their own path to publication.

As I get ready for the Rochester Writer’s Spring Conference next week, where I hope to glean a lot of new information about this daily affliction I have called writing fiction, I thought it would be a good time to pass on a bit more of Mr. King’s advice.

Eight Best-Seller Secrets
Besides his well-known writing admonition (that every writer should follow): “The road to Hell is paved with adverbs” … here are eight of Stephen King’s tips for writing a novel that wannabe writers (and, more importantly, their readers) will love …

    1. Use small words. Words with multiple syllables may look impressive, but most readers don’t want to work for their entertainment. Make their reading experience as effortless as possible. Keep sentences short, vary the word length, and write as simply as possible.

    2. Tell your own truth. You can make up stories about anything you like, but your characters and plot have to ring true to your ear. No one is all bad or all good. Even super-baddie Darth Vader achieved redemption in the end.

    3. Mix up the paragraph length. It’s boring to look at a page and see uniform blocks of words. Make some of the paragraphs one sentence long.

    4. Think of your perfect reader and write only for them. Write a story that person would like and ignore what the rest of the world thinks. No one writes a book everyone likes, but with this method does your marketing for you. If you write solidly for one reader, everyone who’s like them will love your books.

    5. Read, read, read. I can never say that enough. Read every time you’re waiting somewhere … when you’re sitting in the doctor’s office … when you’re trying to fall asleep. Immerse your brain in words all day long. The variety will give your own work more depth.

    6. Write one word at a time. This may be the most famous piece of advice King has given on writing. How do you write a novel as long as The Stand? One word at a time. Just sit down and do it. Don’t think about writing hundreds of thousands of words. Aim for the next word, and then the next one.

    7. Write every single day. It really does get easier the more you do it. You’ll have days when it takes hours to hit your word count and days when it takes no time at all, but set an appointment with yourself and sit down to write every single day, without fail.

    8. Find something you love about your work. Yes, writing what’s popular will sell more books, but you’ve got to find some middle ground between what will sell and what you love. Being an author is hard enough. There’s no sense making it even harder by writing something you hate.

Of course, if zombie love stories with skinhead motorcycle gangs in Scotland during an alien invasion in the Middle Ages is something you love, all I can do is wish you luck.


My books have all garnered some terrific reviews, and you can see the ones I have available by using the Amazon link below. My latest, BLOOD LAKE, will be out this summer. Look for it. I’ll look for you at the writing conference.

buy now amazon

You’re invited to visit my web site, BROKEN GLASS, or
like my Book of Face page. You can find me on Goodreads, or follow
some of my shorter ramblings on The Twitter.

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4 Responses to “Secrets to Writing a Best-Seller”

  1. Mary Hackstock Says:

    Another nice post! Love

    Sent from my iSlate


    Liked by 1 person

  2. Ron Herron Says:

    Thanks, Gene. 😉


  3. Gene Wilburn Says:

    Good post! One word at a time — the best advice I know.

    Liked by 1 person

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