Everyone likes to read, but not everyone likes to write. Luckily, there’s a way you can combine the two – creating a best-seller in the process.

How? By asking the right people the right questions. That’s what made James Patterson the world’s best-selling novelist. His advice can help you, too. So here it is: 

Start With A Good Question

Many bestselling authors had that famous moment when they asked a question and a lightbulb went on. For James Patterson, it was when he questioned the conventional wisdom that crime doesn’t pay. He knew from experience that the majority of cases could be solved if the police had enough evidence or resources. So he sat down and wrote a novel about it. As he started to write, he asked himself, “How would I solve this case?” and “What would I need to do it?” The former turned into the book Ask For Help, while the latter became The Black Box.

A good question is more than a simple inquiry; it sets you up for a conversation. And that’s what you want with a book editor or agent. Before you start pitching ideas for your next book, ask the right person for advice on how to make it better.

The More You Know, The Better

Even when he wasn’t writing, Patterson was constantly thinking about his stories. He once told an interviewer that he had 200 ideas a day, but only one of them was ever good enough to make it into a book. So he worked hard to develop his craftsmanship and make the best story possible. With experience, he was able to ask for help when he needed it. And when he did, he got a beautiful answer from his friend and editor Susan Moldow, who said, “Tell the truth. The more you know, the better.”

The more you know, the better equipped you are to tackle any situation that may arise. Don’t be afraid to admit that you don’t know something – it’s usually what happens when you say that you do. And when you do know something, don’t be afraid to share it. Patterson did a lot of research for Ask For Help, which led him to question a lot of assumptions about crime and punishment. It made perfect sense to share his findings with the world. But he knew that some people might not want to admit that they didn’t know something, so he took the extra step of proving them wrong. With his new-found confidence, he was now able to ask for help in any situation and get the answer he needed. He might not have known a lot about crime, but he knew enough to ask for help if he needed to.

Make A List Of Needs

We all need help from time to time, and not just in crime-solving. When it comes to creating a book, you’ll inevitably need an audience, a publisher, and a designer to put it all together. It’s important to realize that every part of the process has its disadvantages. Having an editor who changes your every word and insists on adding in their own ideas can make you hate them for a while, but ultimately, it’s what makes the book better. So when you’re making your list of needs, make sure that you’re also considering the good that your editor will do for your books in the future.

Check Yes Or No 

Another important point to make about question-asking is that you need to be careful about what you ask for. In general, you want to avoid asking for something that could possibly be a ‘no’ or ‘maybe’, because you don’t want to limit your options. This could make it difficult to find someone who can help you. Instead, find out what is and isn’t possible before you ask for something. It’s better to ask for clarification rather than assume that something is true just because you want it to be. It’s often better to ask for help with a specific task and not just for advice. For example, if you’re trying to write a book and you’re stuck, it’s better to ask for help with the actual mechanics of writing (research, plotting, etc.) than for advice on how to become a better writer. Knowing what you’re looking for will help you get the most from your source and increase the chance of getting a yes instead of a no.

Follow Up

The ideal situation is that you ask for help, get it, and then use it to create your book. But to get that book deal, you’ll have to prove to publishers that you’re worth it. After you get the ‘yes’ from the editor, it’s important to follow up with a call or an e-mail to make sure that they’re still interested in working with you. This will help establish you as a reliable and thoughtful client, demonstrating that you can be trusted with their brand. Besides, if they aren’t interested, it might be time to find a new editor or agent.

Find A Partner

Partners are important in any industry, but especially when it comes to creating a book. You’ll need someone to help you find an audience and someone to publish your book. When you’re looking for a publishing partner, it’s important to find someone who can be both a collaborator and a partner. Ideally, you want to find a partner who is experienced in both fields – someone who has published books and who has an audience that might be interested in your particular brand of humor or subject matter. In addition, it’s important to be careful about who you choose as a partner. You don’t want to work with someone who is less experienced or whom you perceive as having ulterior motives. Consider all of this before making a decision.

Make Sure That They Understand You

In some cases, you don’t necessarily need to find the ‘perfect’ person. Sometimes, it’s better to find someone who is experienced but also has that ‘perfect’ personality that you’re looking for. For example, you might want to work with an agent who has a lot of experience but is also very friendly and approachable. Being able to have a conversation with your agent is essential – you don’t want to have any miscommunication issues with your publisher. This is why it’s important to make sure that your agent and your publisher have all of the same goals in mind before you start working on your book. If they don’t, it could lead to problems. Consider all the details of your partnership (including what happens if either of you gets hit by a bus), and make sure that everything is crystal clear before you start rolling camera.

Follow The Three Step Process

To create a book, you’ll need to follow a set of steps. These include gathering your material, selecting a publication platform, and following up once you’ve landed a contract. Each step in this process should be performed with care and attention to detail (and ideally, by a professional service provider). Doing any of these things incorrectly could result in problems later on. Take your time with each step and follow the process carefully. If you end up following a different route or take short cuts, it could leave you in a bit of a pickle. Why? Because at the end of the day, you want to make sure that everything is handled professionally and with the proper paperwork.

Now, you might be tempted to simply write a book and try to build your audience organically. That’s certainly one way to go about it. But as we’ve established, the odds of you becoming a best-selling novelist without any help from the outside are pretty slim. Working with an experienced agent or editor is the key to getting that book deal and turning your dream into a reality. And when you do, you’ll be able to sit back and enjoy your new-found success – knowing that you had help making it happen.