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The Bestseller Experiment

Join author and screenwriter Mark Stay with coach and entrepreneur Mark Desvaux, as they discover the secrets to writing a bestseller and challenge themselves and you to write, market and self-published a bestselling book in just one year. Each week, they are guided by and interview million-selling, chart-topping authors, publishers on the inside, editors, agents, social media specialists, and many more big names who play a part in the bestseller process. From the writing to marketing, plotting to publishing, learn the secrets to help you write your way to the top of the charts.
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The Bestseller Experiment
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Now displaying: Page 1
Nov 30, 2022

Louise Willder has been a copywriter at Penguin Books for twenty-five years. During this time, she estimates she has produced about 5,000 blurbs. She now shares her knowledge and experience in her amazing new book, Blurb Your Enthusiasm, which looks at the evolution of blurbs. In this Deep Dive, Louise shares incredibly helpful tips for writing your own and answers our listener questions on blurbs, word count, blurbs for series, multiple POVs and more!

Nov 28, 2022

Harriet Tyce tells us about her brilliant new thriller It Ends at Midnight, how the amazing reception to her debut Blood Orange made her wonder if she could do it again, and how she gets herself into trouble by trying to outdo what she’s written before.

And in the extended version for Academy members and podcast Patrons, the Two Marks discuss the halo effect, difficult second novels, going too far, changing your mindset and much more!

Nov 21, 2022
Alan Gorevan is an Irish thriller writer and winner of the Irish Writers’ Centre Novel Fair competition. Alan was preparing his debut novel for submission when the 2020 lockdown came along, and he thought his dream was over before it had even started. But then Alan decided he wasn’t going to sit around and wait for agents and publishers, and decided to self publish. Starting with some short stories, Alan’s 2020 led a to an extraordinary run of publication and he takes us through it step by step, culminating with his novel The Kindness of Psychopaths.
 
And in the extended version for Academy members and podcast Patrons, the Two Marks discuss reading your book like a reader, the self-publishing learning curve, the importance of titles, and much more!
Nov 14, 2022
Tracey Lien’s debut All That’s Left Unsaid was sold in a nine-way auction and she tells us why it was important that a book that deals with heavy issues needed to be a fun read. Tracey tells us the most important lesson she learned about readers while writing for the LA Times, how she found an agent, why she was baffled by Jane Austen and how a daily writing habit gave her the confidence she needed to finish her novel.
 
And in the extended version for Academy members and podcast Patrons, the Two Marks discuss balancing story and big issues, readers not owing you anything, and having an idea that’s easy for someone else to pitch, and much more!
Nov 7, 2022
A.G. Riddle spent ten years starting internet companies before retiring to pursue his true passion of writing fiction. His novels have sold over four million copies worldwide and been translated in twenty-four languages. His new novel Lost in Time is a time travel thriller and continues his knack for blending genres, and he tells us why writers need to define their own success.
 

And in the extended version for Patreons and Academates, the two Marks discuss defining success, filtering feedback, authenticity, the doubt train and much more!

Nov 4, 2022

Dr Devin Finaughty is a lecturer in forensic science the University of Kent, Chandra Finaughty has two Masters specialising in forensics and a teaching fellow at King’s College, London. They answer questions from our Patrons and Academates on forensics in fiction, including the CSI effect, working a crime scene, and essential resources for writers and research.

Oct 31, 2022

Ed McDonald returns to the podcast with a new fantasy series, The Redwinter Chronicles, and we discuss how the fantasy genre has changed in the short time since we last spoke. Ed also discusses a life-threatening illness that has given him a new perspective on his writing.

And in the extended version for Patreons and Academates, the two Marks discuss false starts, deleting work and starting over, ideas versus theme, and much more!

Oct 28, 2022
Danny Stack and Tim Clague are award-winning screenwriters and directors who have never waited for permission from the industry to make their movies. As Future TX, their new family science fiction adventure feature film, hits Odeon cinemas in the UK, Danny and Tim reveal how they’ve made and released two independent feature films. They offer great tips for screenwriters, insight into the film industry, and why now may be the best time to write and make your movie.
Oct 24, 2022
Jenny Ashcroft has always been fascinated with the past and how extraordinary events can change the lives of ordinary people. With her new novel, The Echoes of Love, Jenny takes us to Crete in 1936, and she reveals her best resources for researching and writing historical fiction. And Jenny talks about finding your writing peers and supporting one another (and why your family probably won’t understand what you’re doing!).
And in the extended version for Patreons and Academates, the two Marks discuss the relationship between authors, agents and publishers, writing for the fun of it, how research can unearth unexpected nuggets and much more!
Oct 17, 2022

The two Marks celebrate six years of the podcast by giving their listeners a peek behind the scenes to see how a weekly podcast is made, and our editors Dave and JD offer tips for anyone who’s thinking of starting their own podcast, and they spill the beans on what doesn’t make it into the show.

Oct 12, 2022
Kim Raine is a High-Performance ADHD Coach, and the founder of ADHD Brains In Business, and she's the author of the Amazon bestseller Square Pegs: A book of Self-discovery for women with ADHD. Kim answers our listener questions on Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder and how it affects creatives and offers strategies on how to work with your brain rather than against it.
 
Deep Dives are normally exclusive for our Patrons and Academates, but we’ve made this one available to all.
Oct 10, 2022
We welcome Sunday Times bestselling author CL Taylor back to the podcast with her new novel The Guilty Couple. In an interview packed with amazing advice, she takes us step-by-step through her creative process, from first idea to finished novel.
 
And in the extended version for Patreons and Academates, the two Marks discuss wants, needs and flaws, fear of the first page, tips for using notebooks and much more!
Oct 3, 2022
Scott Turow is a master of suspense fiction. He returns with his new thriller, Suspect, and tells us about the challenges of taking a minor character from a previous novel and putting them front and centre of their own story. He also describes how he uses plot to test and reveal his characters. Scott also takes us through his extraordinary career, from writing Presumed Innocent on his commute, to fighting for the rights of authors as President of the Authors Guild.
 
And in the extended version for Patreons and Academates, the two Marks discuss plot as a species of character, political writing, social media, being different to our parents, working with editors, and why authors need to value themselves more than they do, and much more!
Sep 29, 2022
Suzie Edge has nearly 250,000 followers on TikTok with nearly 5.5m likes. Suzie tells us what she’s discovered in using the app over three years and how it’s been driving pre-orders for her new book Mortal Monarchs. We discuss what kinds of content attracts followers, and why authors are perfect for TikTok because we tell stories...
 
Please note that this episode was recorded before the death of Queen Elizabeth II, so do please bear that in mind when you hear myself and Suzie discussing her new book Mortal Monarchs, which dives into the deaths of British royals over the centuries.
Sep 26, 2022

Aggie Blum Thompson sent us an email in 2019 detailing her dream to see her book on a table in a bookstore. Aggie’s second novel, ALL THE DIRTY SECRETS, is out now and she tells us how she made that dream a reality. This is a hugely entertaining interview and Aggie reveals how she bounced back when things didn’t turn out as planned.

Sep 18, 2022
Luan Goldie won the Costa Short Story Prize in 2017, and her debut novel Nightingale Point was longlisted for the Women’s Prize for Fiction. Her latest novel, These Streets, touches on issues of homelessness, mental health, and single parent families, and is full of warmth, wit and life. Luan tells us how she's balanced working as a teacher and a writer and how she’s developed a discipline to write, no matter what real life throws at her.
Sep 12, 2022
Lesley Thomson's latest book The Companion continues a bestselling streak that’s been inspired by some remarkable places and people, and she shares with us her writing routines and tells us why writers should stay within their own story. And the Two Marks give listeners a peek behind the scenes of their recent live show and how it all nearly went horribly wrong.
Sep 5, 2022
We celebrate over 400 episodes of the podcast with a special live show from Waterstones in Canterbury with guest authors Rowan Coleman, Pernille Hughes, Nadine Matheson and Julie Wassmer. We discuss how authors can sustain their careers beyond the advance and publication date. This was a fun and lively conversation that demystifies a lot of the myths around the life of an author.
 
Please note: the sound has been expertly remixed by our editor JD, so if the Youtube version made your ears hurt, this version is much more pleasing on the ears.
Aug 29, 2022

What better way to celebrate our 400th episode than by speaking to some of our longtime listeners and members of the Bestseller Academy who have faced their greatest writing challenges and come through the other side.

Aug 22, 2022
Elissa Soave is the winner of the inaugural Primadonna Prize, an accolade awarded to unpublished and unrepresented writers. Ginger and Me is her debut novel, a part-coming of age and part-mystery novel featuring vivid characters. Elissa reveals how her writing career started with just 500 words and the realisation that her story was worth telling.
Aug 15, 2022

Christopher Abbott is the award-winning author of the Watson Chronicles, a continuation of the Sherlock Holmes stories. Christopher tells us how he's worked to retain the authenticity of Conan Doyle's style, and what he’s learned about crafting a mystery.

Aug 8, 2022
Mark Ellis is the bestselling author of the DCI Frank Merlin series set in the Second World War. Mark celebrates the publication of the fifth book in the series, Dead in the Water, and reveals his research methods and how he uses real history to develop his stories. He also tells us what he learned from his entrepreneurial life that he carried over with him to his writing.
Aug 1, 2022

Lisa Regan is the USA Today & Wall Street Journal bestselling author of the Detective Josie Quinn series, and this year sees the publication of books 14 & 15: Watch Her Disappear and Local Girl Missing. But it all started when she wrote her first mystery when she was 11-years-old. Lisa tells us how her father’s words have kept her going through years of rejection, and Lisa shares what she wishes she had known when she started out writing such a successful series. And the two Marks announce a live show to celebrate 400 episodes of the podcast!

Jul 25, 2022
Scott Kershaw's debut The Game is a cracking high concept thriller, and Scott’s route to publication is an extraordinary tale of second chances, self-publishing, co-writing, a first-class honours degree, an expensive train journey, weird business cards, and explaining publishing’s system of advances and royalties to friends and family. This is a wonderfully honest interview and full of surprises. And the Two Marks discuss imposter syndrome and why you should celebrate it.
Jul 18, 2022
Mike Shackle returns to the podcast to celebrate Until The Last, the final part of his epic fantasy series The Last War. We’ve been following Mike’s journey since he was inspired by our first Joe Abercrombie episode to pick up the pen and start writing again, through to his deal with Gollancz, and now to conclude the series. Mike tells us how he’s only just getting started. And the Two Marks discuss Mr Stay’s launch party and how it all nearly went horribly wrong...
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