What are the secrets to becoming a successful author? We can’t answer this question without first asking what being a successful author looks like to you.
What does success mean to you?
Is it hitting the Amazon, US Books Today or NYT best seller list? Is it selling 100,000 books? 10,000? 1000? Or is it making a profit or just breaking even? These measures of success are all to do with money.
And whether you make those financial goals is not within your control.
Read that again.
Whether you make your financial goals is not within your control.
Ouch. That’s tough. But it’s true.
You can have a truly brilliant book and work hard at marketing and still not sell even 1000 books, not because you’ve done anything wrong, but simply because there are a huge number of books available to readers and not every book will appeal to enough people or get in front of enough of the right kind of people for it to sell even enough for the author to recoup their costs. Why? Because there is always an element of luck involved. I’ve talked to many best selling authors and they all say that luck played a major part in their financial success.
If you measure success in terms of making writing a profitable business, then step one is to write books that will be popular with a large number of people, and that means writing in the big genre areas of romance, historical fiction, mystery and thrillers, fantasy, Sci fi, and contemporary fiction. If you write books that will appeal only to a small niche market you’re best not to measure your success in terms of profitability.
And if you want control over your own success, then no matter the genre, measure it by your book’s quality, not its sales. Quality is something you can control. It comes from investing in your book sufficiently to get the help you need to make sure your book is the best it can possibly be, and that also requires you to take the advice of the professionals you pay to help you. If your book gets accepted by a selective publisher and receives excellent reviews from professional reviewers, then you’ve succeeded, regardless of how many books you sell.
So what are the secrets to success as an author?
The answer is not a set of marketing measures, but the personal qualities and attitudes shared by successful authors.
- Know your genre and your ideal reader before you start writing.
- Have no emotional attachment to your work. A big ego is the biggest impediment to producing quality work. Accept that publishing industry professionals know more about what makes a good book than you do.
- Be prepared to invest the thousands of dollars required to pay for professional editing and cover design, (and publishing and marketing if you can’t do that yourself). Even if you’re aiming for a mainstream publishing deal, you still need to pay for editing if you want your prose to be good enough to impress a publisher.
- Take professional advice and learn from your editors. When a publishing professional tells you what’s wrong with your work, pay attention and be open to reworking it. If you think ‘they just don’t get it’ and feel you can ignore their advice, be prepared to discover later on – by poor reviews and lack of interest – that very few readers ‘get it’ either.
- Study the craft of writing and always be open to learning more.
- Be in it for the long game. There is no such thing as an overnight success.
- Have an online presence. If a reader can’t find you online, they know you’re not a serious author.
- Research service providers well and make sure that you take all aspects of a service into account when you compare them. Something can look good on the surface, but mean little when you examine it more closely.
- Be willing to change things like covers, keywords and blurbs where necessary. Even a great cover can date as styles change, and the terms people search for change. A more modern cover, or a slightly different approach can breathe new life into a book.
- Set realistic measures of success. Not everyone can be a best selling author, but with the right help and attitude most serious authors can produce a quality book.
- Write because you love it, not because you want to make money, then just finishing a book is a success.
For more on these topics listen to this podcast. https://www.stitcher.com/show/book-marketing-tips-and-author-success-podcast/episode/secrets-to-becoming-a-profitable-author-89509645
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