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How to Write a Best Seller

Piggy Monk Square by Grace Jolliffe - book cover illustrating article about how to write a best sellerThe question ‘how to write a best seller’ is always one I have had to avoid in the past.

That’s because I have never had one before.

Well, today everything changed and Piggy Monk Square made Best Seller status on Amazon for the first time.

Piggy, as I call it, was first published in 2006 by Tindal Street Press.

At the time they were a vibrant little independent publisher, but unfortunately they went out of business a few years ago.

I was offered the chance to go with the publisher who had taken them over but I decided not to.

Amazon were opening up more opportunities to writers and I wanted to be independent and see if I could do it myself.

I was scared but went ahead and did it anyway, on the basis that I only have one life and would always regret it if I didn’t try.

There were big decisions ahead of me and one of the biggest was the cover.

I decided that although I liked the old cover I wanted something different. Besides writers don’t have the rights to their covers.

The girl on the front of the old cover was nice but she seemed passive.

The story was told by a different sort of girl altogether and I wanted a stronger image.

It took a while to decide on the right image and eventually I ran a contest in 99 designs.

The contest had many entries and it was great to have so many different covers to choose from.

The book had already been edited and proofed, but my own paranoia made me decide to have it proofed again – just in case any mistakes had slipped in during the republishing process.

Finally, I had it formatted as an Ebook, rewrote the blurb etc. and at last republished it to Amazon.

At first sales just dribbled in, but it was better than nothing so I persevered.

I knew nobody knew about the book and it was up to me to tell them.

The thing I find hardest about publishing, or republishing myself is promotion.

It’s a dirty job but someone’s got to do it and that someone was me.

However, the thing to know about traditional publishers, is that they do very little promoting unless you are already a very successful and well known writer.

In fact, after the first few weeks of publishing a new book they move on to promoting the next book on the list and then it’s up to you – the writer.

Knowing this helped me make the decision to republish myself.

I would stand, or fall on my own sword.

I decided I would learn about promoting as I went along but to be honest I don’t have time to do much.

I kept going and didn’t give up. I don’t believe in giving up. I believe in perseverance and it paid off.

Today, Piggy Monk Square hit the bestselling list on Amazon for the first time.

So, to answer the question – ‘how to write a best seller?

Well, I can only say how I did it and I don’t have a secret method, but I do have rules I stick to when I am writing.

I have broken these down into three key aspects:



I wrote Piggy Monk Square from my heart. I believed in the story myself and I had to tell it. If you don’t feel strongly about your story nobody else will.


A lot of writers carry an evil little mental editor on their shoulder and the most important thing you can do is ignore it. Mine used to tell me that nobody would want to read my story and that the book wouldn’t sell etc.

If you listen to the voice of doubt you will never finish anything.

sunset on Galway bay with inspiring text - illustrating an article on how to write best seller


I kept going until the book was completely finished and then right away I went back to the start and rewrote it several times.

I was absolutely ruthless about taking out huge chunks and scenes – not because they were badly written, but because they went off the spine of the story.

Writers who are precious about keeping every single word they have written are rarely successful. The key to good writing is learning how and when to apply the chop.

Think of it as cutting long unwieldy branches off a tree – the tree will grow stronger.

More scenes and words were also cut during the initial editing process. Having a good editor is vital – they are outside looking in and they see things you don’t.

So what now?

At the moment I am finishing another book set in the same location as Piggy Monk Square and in this I am telling Josie’s story.

She was a popular character in Piggy Monk Square because of her cheeky attitude and kind nature. She had a relatively small part in the book but I always knew she had a story to tell.

I hope to be finished her story soon.

I had a great title in mind but unfortunately I found another book with the same title so I am title hunting as I write.

Back soon with more news.

All the best



Piggy Monk Square by Grace Jolliffe - book cover illustrating article about how to write a best seller






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