Hey, friends. I have heard from many of you that you are *quite eager* to hear how I became a USA Today bestseller, as an indie author.

The process, while expensive and not guaranteed, is not complex, and I’ll lay it out for you here, step by step.

Step One: Prepare to Invest

As with any bestseller run, this will take a considerable financial stake by someone, whether yourself, a publisher, or an angel investor. Since most of us don’t have angel investors and are indies, let’s assume it’s you.

Come see me!

LIVE WIRE reading, A Celebration of Women’s Words, Black Lab. Pub, Houston, TX, March 3, 4 pm

LIVE WIRE Release—with wine and cheese, The Book Nook, Brenham, TX, March 16, 1-3 pm

SICK PUPPY Release at Murder by the Book, Houston, TX, April 27, 4:30 pm

Writing and Reading Mysteries and Thrillers, Comicpalooza, Houston, TX, May 12, 3:00 pm

DEAD PILE Release—with coffee and dessert, Sheridan Stationery & Books, Sheridan, WY, May 25, 1-3 pm

But why, you say? Why does it cost money? Shouldn’t I be making money?

Because no one knows about your book to buy it unless you a) make it visible and b) convince them it’s desirable to buy. That requires advertising. And to sell the number of books you need to in a short amount of time? Um, yeah, that’s a lot of advertising.

What does it cost? Well, luckily we aren’t shooting for NY Times, which is known to cost upwards of a hundred grand. This should only cost ~$25k (as of January 2019 when I’m writing this), and you’re shooting for ebook, not hardback, which is a big savings right there.

You’ve got $25k lying around, right?

No? Well, read on to Step Two. And in the meantime, ask yourself: “Is the investment worth the benefit?” Be very clear to yourself what you believe that benefit will be. Is it because you want to feel good? That’s legitimate. Are looking to find new readers, crossing over from the fans of the other authors in a box set (if that’s the route you take)? Good idea. Is it because you think you’ll make it up on sales of that book? Because you probably won’t. Or is it because you think it will pay for itself over time? This is a possibility. If you make it, which isn’t guaranteed, and if you continue to write and publish smart, and, well, that’s a variable I can’t control for you.

Step Two: Find Partners

Part A: Other Authors

Most indies, especially for a first bestseller run, find that their best shot at the USA Today list is in a multi-author box set, within a hot-selling genre, which means romance, mystery, thriller, fantasy, or sci-fi, usually.

Why multi-author? To spread out the cost AND to have larger reach for promotion purposes. If I have 25k followers, and you have 50k, and a few other authors have 10k apiece, we do a lot better together, right?

Be sure the other authors:

  1. Have credibility from a sales and quality perspective.
  2. Write and have readers in the correct genre.
  3. Understand the investment of time and money upfront. Because, oh yes, the marketing will also take a large amount of time.


     2. Enter to win! READER APPRECIATION WEEK (CONTEST), Free for WINNERS (June, WY)



Where do you find them? Network in your genre, i.e., at conferences or in Facebook groups. Stalk other authors who are doing better than you, and reach out to them. Look at other authors who have participated in box sets before.

Read the next part of this series on how to make the USA Today list HERE.

Until then,


Pamela Fagan HutchinsUSA Today bestseller and winner of the 2017 Silver Falchion award for
Best Mystery, writes hilarious nonfiction (What Kind of Loser Indie Publishes, and How Can I Be One, Too?), and mystery trilogies in her What Doesn’t Kill You world. She teaches writing, publishing, and promotion at the SkipJack Publishing Online School (where you can take How to Sell a Ton of Books, FREE) and writes about it on the SkipJack Publishing blog.

Pamela resides deep in the heart of Nowheresville, Texas and in the frozen north of Snowheresville, Wyoming. She has a passion for great writing and smart authorpreneurship as well as long hikes and trail rides with her hunky husband, giant horses, and pack of rescue dogs, donkeys, and goats. She also leaps medium-tall buildings in a single bound (if she gets a good running start).

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5 Responses to So you want to be a USA Today bestseller?

  1. Paul Fagan says:

    Great ideas! Thank you for sharing.

  2. Eric says:

    Great Stuff!

  3. Excellent stuff, as usual. Thanks for helping us out.
    Now, where are those partners?

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