Let me tell you how to write a non-fiction bestseller.
Of course the book is about happiness.
Happiness might be the most elusive, precious thing on the planet, and we always try to catch it and hold on to it, so have a go.
Call it something like ‘99 rules for lasting happiness’, ‘Forever Happy’ or ‘The 50 Faces of Happiness’ (which allows for the use of smiley’s on the cover).
Oh, and people LOVE numbers.
Then make sure to include ‘cutting edge scientific research’ on happiness (with percentages and demographics and names of famous universities).
Add interviews with happy people from around the world, and extract the traits and activities they have in common.
Also include some exercises (visualization is a safe bet, just like mindfulness and some affirmations) and a bunch of blank gratitude pages.
Sprinkle it with spiritual quotes by spiritual giants (‘If you want to receive, you have to let go’, stuff like that).
Make the chapters short.
And put it all together.
You have created a book with a lot of safe selling potential.
But what if you want to take it a bit further?
If you choose to go the extra mile (and still keep it safe), pick a specific angle and milk it.
People think they’re missing out all the time, so introducing the specific happiness formula of a particular group of human beings (or animals, or plants, or planets), will always make them eager to dive in.
Write a book about ‘The Inuit Way of Happiness’.
Or create and introduce ‘Hot and Happy: the Enlightening Joy of Being a Firefighter’.
Or write ‘Baby Bliss’, about ‘What we can learn about happiness from little children’.
Or completely ignore the world of humans, and look for an alternative.
What about ‘Happy Cats (and 100 things we can learn from them)’ or dogs?
‘The Perfection of Pandas?’
Maybe ‘Happy Trees: The Awesomeness of Oaks’?
Or take fruit (‘Sweet Joy’).
Or even Nothing (‘Why Doing Nothing Will Get You Everything!’)
There you go, that’s it.
You’ve got the recipe, time to do the work.
Now you may think ‘If you know so much about bestsellers, Marnix, why don’t you take your own advice and write one!’, and that is a fair question.
The reason is: I can’t.
Just like I can’t be a successful mainstream motivational speaker, even if I could perfectly mimic everything that gig requires (which, technically, I could).
I can’t because I can’t do things I don’t believe in.
I just can’t write or sell formulaic stuff.
Not because I am so morally perfect, but, well, I don’t know.
I just can’t.
It would probably hurt like fuck to do so.
But if you can: go for it and enjoy!
Just remember to get me a slice of the pie…
(Photo by @socialcut, for Unsplash)