Making it to the Bestseller List

Hank Phillippi Ryan

Hank Phillippi Ryan

Hank Phillippi Ryan‘s latest novel—The Wrong Girlreached the Boston Globe Bestseller list within a week of its September 2013 release.

I caught up to Hank during a whirlwind book tour. She wasn’t even sure what town she was in until she checked her schedule.

She spoke of The Wrong Girl sprinting out of the starting gate, saying, “It’s an amazing dream come true experience.”

Hank is well known as the longtime on-camera investigative reporter for Boston’s NBC affiliate, WHDH-TV, where she has won 30 EMMYs and 12 Edward R. Murrow awards. She started writing novels at age 55 and has amassed countless fans for her award-winning and critically-acclaimed bestselling mystery/thriller novels during the last nine years.

Her 2012 release, The Other Woman, was the first in a series featuring investigative reporter Jane Ryland and detective Jake Brogan. It earned the Mary Higgins Clark Award (Mystery Writers of America) and was nominated for the Anthony, Agatha, Macavity, Daphne and Shamus Awards. Jane and Jake are back in Hank’s new chilling and heart-wrenching novel of suspense, The Wrong Girl.

The Wrong Girl by Hank Phillippi Ryan

The Wrong Girl made it to the Boston Globe Bestseller list in its first week.

In their starred review, Booklist described The Wrong Girl as, “a crisp, fast-moving police procedural featuring reverberating illegalities, increasing danger and suspense, and crackling sexual tension … Another winner from Ryan.”

“It brings tears to my eyes to hear how much people like my books, how much they’re connected and how much they know and like Jake and Jane,” Hank said. “The reaction is beyond anything I could have imagined.”

I asked Hank for any secrets she could share about her path to literary success.

“There are three things that make a best selling novel, but no one knows what they are,” she joked. “The only key I know is to take all the time you possibly can to write the best book you possibly can.” On the subject of marketing your book, she said it’s important to meet your readers. “Nothing is more successful or more valuable than actually going to a bookstore or a library.”

Hank’s Advice to Aspiring Authors

  • Write the best book you possibly can, and let nothing stand in your way. You need to have a brilliant, unique, fresh, wonderful manuscript. Work on it harder and longer and with more focus than anything else. Then work harder on it.
  • Don’t worry about anything else while you’re writing. Don’t wonder about bookmarks or a Facebook page. You can tend to this once the manuscript is polished and out the door.
  • Find an agent. Go on the websites of Sisters in Crime and Mystery Writers of America to learn how. There are publishing companies that won’t look at a submission if you aren’t agented. There are agents who can tell quickly if and where a book should be placed.

Hank is immediate past president of Sisters in Crime and currently sits on the board of Mystery Writers of America. She said both provide education, monitoring, structure, advice, counsel, entry and protection for every member. They watch out for predatory agents, editors and publishers. Each has a list of approved publishers that have been vetted so authors aren’t lured into a contract or situation that’s going to harm them.

She teaches with MWA University—a group of authors who travels to all chapters across the U.S. to present day-long seminars—and blogs for Jungle Red and Femmes Fatales.

“I have done so well that I’m thrilled to be able to pass along some of my experiences to people who are new. I learn something every time I teach a class or give a seminar or participate in a panel. It’s all continuing education everyday. We protect each other and educate each other. It’s proof that we write alone but we’re not alone,” she said.

Live in the Moment

Finding joy in everyday life is important to Hank. She said she learned to appreciate joy late in life.

“I’ve always been a workaholic,” she said. “I was so inward that I never looked out. Now, I’m very careful to be in the moment, to enjoy. We get one time through our lives, and it’s our choice to be fearful or to be happy, to be a pessimist or to be an optimist. I’m grateful. I’m very careful to embrace what’s good.”

You can follow Hank on Facebook and Twitter, and you can contact her through her website. She loves to hear from readers.

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