How to Write a Bestseller in an Afternoon

I’m one of the most successful ghostwriters in the game right now.

When people hire a ghostwriter they want more than just an amazing book, they want it fast.

I’m often called in when a publishing company tried to save some money and hire a “discount writer” and now has a looming disaster with a release date fast approaching.

When I think about the way I create content, it’s a lot like that movie “Paycheck” with Ben Affleck. Yes, I know it was a short story by Philip K. Dick first, but most people don’t read short stories from the early 1950s anymore.

In that movie, they come to him with a 3D television and his job is to reverse engineer it and create their own version that they can still patent. After his work is done on each project, they erase his memory so that their new intellectual property is secure.

My process is very similar. I start by looking at what the market wants and what they respond to.

You can go REALLY deep into research and it can be overwhelming, so it’s important to maintain your balance between effort and perfection.


The first step is to find the competition. I go on to Amazon and look for the best sellers with the best reviews that most closely relate to my topic.

Look for the top 3-5 books with the highest sales rating and the largest quantity of reviews.  Take a look at the five and one-star reviews.  What do people love about these books and what is missing?  Finding the cause of the one stars is a big opportunity.

If you can turn negative reviewers into fans then your book will become a massive success.

After you have gathered a ton of information from the reviews, take a look at each book’s table of contents.  What topics are covered in each of these top books?  From here you can begin to form the first bones of your outline.


I prefer to use a mind mapping tool for my outlines.  The main tool that I use is called Xmind.  I like it because it’s simple and it’s free. I’m a big fan of cost control.  I have dabbled with programs that cost hundreds of dollars, but for the way I use mindmaps, there is no additional value to justify the additional cost.

I like mindmaps because they are circular rather than linear.  As I’m writing my outline I’m creating sections but the order of sections is very fluid.  There is no need to lock into an order until you start the actual writing process.

Once you have your big picture outline, you may need to do additional research for each chapter.  I like to use EzineArticles.  There is a lot of solid information on there and combined with my previous research I can create a solid deep outline.  It’s super important not to plagiarize, so you want to stay clearly in the space of ideas. Pulling your research from dozens of articles is much better than pulling it from a single book.


Once you have your outline it’s time to move into the writing phase.  For the actual writing of each book I use Scrivener.  I used to use big programs like Word, but I can tell you that switching over was life-changing.  It’s easy to move sections around and the learning curve is not steep.  There is a one-hour training on Scrivener that teaches you everything you need to know.

It let’s you break down each book into tiny sections, chapters and even parts of chapters.  The biggest challenge with writing a book is length.  It can be daunting to think about writing 10 20 or even 30 thousand words in a single week.  But when you break it down into 500-word sections it becomes easy.

Even when writing fiction, you can break down our book into individual scenes and just focus on writing one scene at a time.

I copy and paste my mindmap into each different Scrivener section.  Now you might be thinking that you can’t type nearly fast enough to write a book in an afternoon.  In normal conversation, you speak about 150 words per minute.  So for a ten thousand word book, you only need to speak for a little over an hour.  There are several ways to turn dictation into text – you can use Dragon Dictate and watch your words turn to text into real-time or you can use and pay someone a dollar a minute to turn your audio file into text.

Once you have completed your rough draft it’s time for the editing process.  You can hire an editor on quite easily or you can try your hand at editing yourself.  The number one killer of self-published books is problems with editing.  Misspelled words and bad grammar will destroy a book no matter how good the content is, so don’t skimp here.  You can hire a professional editor for pennies on the dollar and have a book that is guaranteed to get great reviews.

2 thoughts on “How to Write a Bestseller in an Afternoon”

  1. Wow! I loved reading this unparalleled great post of yours, Jonathan. It has a lot of amazingly important tips and reminders on how to write, research, and publish a book.
    I have to share this to all those who are would-be writers, too.
    Thank you so much.


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