Here goes with the start of an occasional series.

I found I was reading thrillers more eagerly than any other type of book, and resolved to write one myself. James (my partner, a writer himself but also an attorney so you know his advice is worth a few hundred bucks!) said great idea, so long as first of all you've studied the market. Read at least five bestsellers and write an analysis of them.

Those analyses were interesting enough, but did not show the common threads. I moved on to an ultra-wide chart streaming with categories, and extended my reading from thrillers to include all types of bestsellers - authors such as Nicholas Evans, Nelson de Mille, Jeffrey Archer, John Grisham, Clive Barker, and others such as Ian McEwan who write bestsellers without necessarily starting out to do so. No women's romances included as yet. I suspect the same rules apply, but would be glad to hear from readers who relate these 'secrets' to different categories.

Rules are made to be broken, some bestsellers come out of left-field, but that's not what I was looking for. I wanted rules to follow. It did help - much of my new novel LOOK WHO'S WATCHING was shaped by this research.

So here goes with Secret #1.

This was a universal that has so far applied to EVERY bestseller I've considered.

Include WEALTH in your book. Scenes can drip with as much money, style and richness as you can bear to include. It seems it can't be overdone. New money old money, it doesn't matter. It simply must exist, in real detail, as at least one element of a bestseller.

I suppose we buy into what it is we want to have. We like to read about the rich because we wouldn't mind riches ourselves.

Is there space for poverty as well, can the bestseller concern itself with lowlife social issues? I check my chart and the answer is yes it can, but displaying is no secret of success. It's purely an incidental, a whim that happens seldom, something the author is allowed so long as real wealth is set against it. There's no need to approve of such wealth. Simply show it.

Next 'bestseller' entry