So maybe there isn't a magic formula for writing bestselling novels. But a chance encounter in an independent bookstore has revealed to me the secret to sales! *dun dun dun*
At my local indie store, I approached one of the three people manning the counter of the bookstore and asked, "Do you have Five Flavors of Dumb by Antony John?" (That happens to be an amazing but YA book, and therefore irrelevant.) (You should still all check it out, though. I <3 it.)
The guy did a search on the computer; both hardcover and paperback appeared on the screen. "No, we don't," he said, and as usual followed it up with, "But we can order it for you."
Now that implies that you, as a customer, will return when the book gets shipped in and buy it. So instead, I said, "No, I was just wondering if you usually stock new releases of paperbacks."
And bam -- the guy went: "Yeah, we usually do." Insert thoughtful pause here. "You know what, I'm going to order two copies."
Would you look at that? Without requesting specifically for the bookstore to order you a copy, you've gotten the book in-stock -- there for other customers to discover and spread the word around. And I'm betting this situation is easily replicated. If all four of the indie bookstores in your town order an average of two copies, the demand for that book has just increased by 8. Multiply that across the country, and the demand exponentiates.
Thank goodness for indie bookstores, eh?
A note -- this probably won't work in the chain stores, simply because the employee you talk to most likely won't have the ability to order stock for the store. All the more reason to shop indie, mmhmm? ;)