Wednesday, September 3, 2014

WHY SOME AUTHORS FAIL (And How to Avoid Being One of Them)

I’m not a best-selling author. Yet. But the following list of attitudes and behaviors made me think about self-defeating actions that might slow me down in my quest for writing success. Perhaps you’re guilty of one of these too.

1. Not knowing enough about the industry. Why would you launch into a new business without knowing about it? It’s easy to publish these days. However, industry news won’t come to you without a little effort. Two good places to help you keep up are Publishers Marketplace and Publishers Weekly. Some writers’ blogs are good resources too. I especially like Anne R. Allen’s blog (once a week on Sunday) and The Passive Voice (every day).

2. Not Accepting Feedback. If you have a critique group, or Beta readers, or even if you just ask someone to read something you wrote, pay attention to what they say. Not everything others say will be right or helpful, but keep an open mind and at least consider it. And above all, be polite and thank them. They’ll probably never know if you took their advice, but it doesn’t hurt to be gracious.

3. Not using professionals. Most advice these days centers on at least two professionals who can be very useful in making your book better: A cover designer, and an Editor. For proofreading to catch typos or grammar mistakes, you don’t need to spend a lot of money. Your critique partners can help or you can swap chores.

4. Playing the blame game. If your book sales slow down, or no one’s reading your blog, it’s not necessarily because readers are dense. Try to learn how to improve, whether it’s writing better blog posts, adding to your mailing list, updating your website, or providing a new cover or blurb for your book.

5. Believing the Unbelievable. There are no guarantees. You may never get on the New York Times best seller list or be a guest on Oprah, but it’s certainly possible for you to earn enough from your writing to pay a few bills (maybe a lot of bills!) Or even be able to quit your day job. Recently over 500 self-published authors revealed they were doing just that.

6. Giving up too soon. Publishing is a marathon, not a sprint. You don’t have to make millions in the first 60 days after your book comes out. It’s not a product, like food, that will spoil. E-books are forever and you have time to let readers find you.

Keep writing and good luck.


  1. Hi Phyllis,

    I always enjoy your blog. I've just clicked on Kindle and Createspace to publish my latest and found the list above a reaffirmation. I'm a good artist however and so the temptation is great to create my own if I have time. The process of getting a book ready was quite an re-education in the various facets of publishing and sales. It's only beginning.

    1. Bob:

      I appreciate your support. I look forward to to seeing your book on Amazon, and hope it's a big success, If you're a good artist, then by all means do your own covers. The "advice" to hire an artist doesn't work for everyone. After all, art is very subjective. What looks great to one person doesn't to another. Think of the difference between abstract, realistic and impressionist.


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