7 Things Successful Authors DON'T Do

It’s taken me a while to get to the point that I was willing to bring this subject up, but after my experiences at a book signing, I thought it critical to address a few points for you to ponder.   Not only do I believe this to be career changing, I think it's life altering.   At first I thought I’d separate the information into three posts—but why wait? I want you to benefit now, not later. This is intense material, which you can apply to any aspect of your life.   Immediately.   I also believe they will produce dramatic results when applied, but that's only my opinion.   Put it to the test and let me know.   Thinking back to the event itself, even in all the excitement and all the conversations I was having with people, my focus was on observing.   I wonder if it's the cartoonist and me, spending so many years analyzing personalities so that you can construct jokes or point out personality flaws and characters. Who knows.   What I discovered were patterns in the people around me, which, days later—those same patterns reappear in my mind. Patterns of behavior that would keep a person from success—both in selling their books and developing their careers as authors.   Let's take a look at them.

Successful authors don't resent another author's success.

Yes, I realize there are selfish, ignorant, mean authors out there, and there will be exceptions to just about anything we could talk about, but I'm talking about you.   I'm talking about me.   I'm talking about the type of person who wants to develop a far reaching influence with their readership. Authors who desire to be a person their fans speak highly of and recommend to others.   An authors that is admired and respected.   There is a common barrier to the success of some authors. Some call it resentment, some call it jealousy and some even call it covetousness. I call it a waste of time and energy.   It’s a habit or character flaw that impedes success.   Oh, an author might be successful right now, but would they be more successful if this flaw didn't exist?   Again, this is just my opinion from watching people, having conversations, and reading personal blogs.   My experience over the last 10 to 15 years, including being homeless three times with a large family and a father-in-law we care for, has taught me that time and energy are finite.   The harsh experiences of my life have also been a blessing, specifically in developing a part of my character that gets very excited for other people.   I don't have to know them. I don't have to meet them. My heart simply gets excited when someone else is successful, or they achieve something that is very important to them personally.   It's almost as if I'm achieving it myself. Crazy as that may sound, it doesn't matter. I love having this experience over and over again and cheering others on!   To give you a good example, I cheered for Amanda Hocking when she started to succeed with their books. If you’re a self-published author and don’t know about Amanda—here's a brilliant article about her story. She was one of, if not THE first self made millionaire using the Amazon KDP model.   In less than a single year, she made herself $2.2M self-publishing.   What excited me even more, was when she got her book deal with the TRADITIONAL publishers, pushing her earnings to $4.4M!   There was such a division in feelings from her fans when that happened. Many said that Amanda had “sold out”, throwing her potentially wealthy career out the window by succumbing to an industry that is known to take advantage of authors.   But that's not what I saw.   What I saw was a young lady, who had worked exceedingly hard and stayed incredibly focused on a heartfelt dream.   It wasn't MY dream...it was HERS. A young lady who had proven, not just to the world, but more importantly to herself, that she could indeed write wonderful stories and entertain other people. That in itself is a life-altering achievement.   What was missing for Amanda, and this is just my own interpretation from her personal blog entries, was the process that she wanted to experience.   Amanda just wanted to write books.   She didn’t want to deal with the editing or the design or the marketing. She wanted as few headaches as possible, so she could keep her focus and her creativity on writing the next book!   Can you really blame her?   I know after writing so many books myself, that's the very process I want to have in place. But it was incredible to see someone who had finally achieved what they wanted so desperately!   Back to my point.   There is an author I met at the event who seemed to be a very nice person. A bit reserved, a bit quiet, which is completely normal for our species of human, but there was a cloud over her head.   Her attitude was very pessimistic. It was hard not to get the impression that she was upset when other authors were interacting more with readers and receiving more of a positive response. She got visually upset whet someone else sold a book and she didn’t.   She resented the success of others.   Now I'm not picking on this person, because I've met many individuals in many walks of life that do the same thing. My point is that things are not likely to get better with that kind of an attitude.   So change it.    

Successful Authors don't waste time feeling sorry.

This is huge and it covers a wide variety of situations.   Personally, I don't think you should be wasting your time feeling sorry about things you cannot control.   We can influence our environment and we influence the personalities around us, but we don't control them. So why feel sorry for them, or feel sorry for situations that arise because of them?   Accept some situations as they are and deal with them as they are. Be willing to acknowledge mistakes and misfortunes, correct them and move on.   Secondly, don't waste time feeling sorry for YOURSELF.   Here's a little tough love:
  • YOU chose this profession.
  • YOU want to write a book.
  • YOU are responsible for yourself and the type of information and impressions you broadcast other people.
  • YOU are the only one you have the blame if you are not successful, so stop looking at everyone else and look in the mirror.
You CAN do this.   I don't honestly believe you would've ventured to write a book and go through these experiences if you had zero confidence that you could succeed.   That just doesn't make sense.   There is something inside of you that is telling you this is possible.   BELIEVE it.    

Successful authors don't ignore change, they embrace it.

This is huge.   In fact, this is something that I think about all the time.   Unless you are prepared and understand the complexities of change and how it is going to affect you—as an individual AND as a professional on various levels—you are likely to go mad.   This isn't isolated to authors. This is about every individual and every industry and every aspect of our lives.   But let’s apply it just to us as authors.   As an indie author, one of the greatest things we struggle with his EXPOSURE.   We've written our books, we believe in ourselves (at least to a certain degree), but none of this is validated or improved upon unless people know we exist.  
  • How can you get reviews if no one will read your book?
  • How will people read your book if they can't find your website?
  • How will they find your website if you're not advertising, building relationships or ranking higher in search engine results?
  These are all intertwining patterns, efforts and long term strategies.   But the brutal truth is, it's ALWAYS changing.   The rules I mean.   Let's just take Google for an example. The algorithms and ways that they judge sites, list sites & allow advertising is constantly in flux.   You hear about black hat and white hat SEO (what if you don't wear a hat?), and most of us have to pay for services, which can amount to huge bites from our wallets, just to chase after those changes.   But there's no guarantee!   Back in 2004 I wanted to build my first website for Wanted Hero, but the designer wanted nearly $20,000. I didn't have that kind of money! So I went to the local library, found books on HTML and built one myself.   It wasn't the prettiest thing, but it was functional—and I beat my chest in open defiance of html web programmers everywhere. When I launched the site in 2005, I was nervous as could be.  
  • What if people didn't like it?
  • What if it was just do but looking to most people?
  • What if no one ever found me?
    But I'd already done the work. I'd already invested the time and what little money I had.   The truth was, I had already embraced the change.   The Internet was the future of my career and though I was scared, though I didn't understand the Internet (and to a large degree I still don't understand it) I plotted out the best course I could and started down that path.   Sometimes my friend, that's all you can do.   But the Internet has changed and the tools have changed. The opportunities have changed.   I was selling PDFs for $.97 an issue, years before the Kindle was even invented, and making money at it. So when I saw e-readers, I was ELATED.   I always wanted someone to invent something, some kind of device that would allow children to read comic books other than paper, and look, we have them!   So EMBRACE the change. You can't control it. Your life will not stay the same. The industry will not stand still for you. It will not wait for you.   EMBRACE the change.    

Successful authors don't worry about things the things they can't control

My friends mother passed away last week.   It was a sad day for many people that I knew, though I never met the woman personally. At the funeral her son shared some fun stories, and one of them sticks out in my mind. He said that anytime he wanted something, his mother would call him over.   "Tell me what you want sweetheart," she would say in a soft tone, "and I'll show you how to do without it."   It just made me laugh.   "But," he added, "that wasn't the most profound thing she said to me." He slowly shook his head, a smirk crawling across the surface of his face. "Mom always taught me that there were two things in life that I should never worry about. The things I CAN control...and the things I CAN'T."   He got a huge laugh from the congregation, but that’s true motherly wisdom for you!   We don’t pay attention to simple, clear information like that and it’s a shame. It would prevent a lot of heartache and anxiety.   She is right, you know.   Successful authors don’t worry about the things they can’t control, and if it’s something they can control, they do something about it. We stress about whether or not we get a good review or if we have enough traffic to our website, so we fiddle with things, make changes—not because it’s the right thing to do, but because we hope by mixing things up we might get visual results we can measure.   You know what the REAL trick is?   Creating value and then SHARING that with others.    

Successful authors don’t please everyone.

Maybe I should change that title to “EVEN successful authors don’t please everyone.”   It would make more sense.   It doesn’t matter how successful we become, or how far our influence reaches, there will be those who simply cannot OR WILL NOT be pleased.   That’s life, cupcake,…plain and simple.   So why worry?   As authors we should be focused on producing the very best stories and material that we are capable of making. To be in a constant learning, critiquing & refining mode. Evolving as individuals and professionals so that we can leave behind the best parts of us for others to partake of.   I know that probably sounds melodramatic, but hey, I’m a fiction writer.   Don’t stress out so much about the negatives, because there ARE going to be negatives. In fact, if you’re LUCKY, those negatives will seek you out.   When I was teaching self-defense courses, one of the things I would point out consistently was that you didn’t have to destroy an opponent to be safe. You simply had to do ENOUGH.   I trained a lot with mothers in my class, incredible women, very kind, who had never hit another human being in their lives. They were afraid of not being strong enough, fast enough, skilled enough.   But that wasn’t the point.   The focus was to achieve the end goal: to get home, no matter what.   That’s when I would share a core belief of mine—that it is not always the person with the greatest strengths that comes out on top, BUT THE ONE WITH THE LEAST NUMBER OF WEAKENESSES.   Think about that long and hard.   When you’re feeling down or beaten, take a personal inventory.   No, you won’t please everyone, but is there something you can improve upon to broaden your reach, to get ONE MORE recommendation, to win ONE MORE good review?   Keep building on your strengths, yes—BUT FOCUS ON ELIMINATING YOUR WEAKNESSES AS YOUR PRIORITY!    

Successful authors don’t repeat their mistakes.

I’m not saying that there aren’t stupid people, OR stubborn people (of which I am one),…but the wise of our breed learn from their experiences.   When I look back at the book signing and consider the conversation I had with my wife on the way home, my mind forms a list.   Why? Because I want to learn from my mistakes so I don’t have to suffer or wait any longer for success to find me.   My goal, after all, is to make 100 sales a day.   IF I can achieve that one thing, I will have one of my fondest dreams come true: to support my family through the full-time efforts of writing fiction.   How cool is that?   There’s a challenge to all of this, of course. It seems to be a flaw in human nature that justifies anything that’s uncomfortable. We don’t look at ourselves as we really are, we tend to look at ourselves in the way we would LIKE to be.   That’s not always a bad thing, but it does prevent us from taking an accurate inventory of what we may be doing wrong. So take ownership of your mistakes.   Take ownership and accountability and then make the changes necessary.   If you don’t, no one will know except you.
On the other hand you’ll have no one to blame, except you.     The last part of this article is a singular topic that I’d like to go into a little personal detail with you. My goal here is to help you understand the importance of enduring.  

Successful authors don’t expect immediate results.

That is not to say that we don’t wish for immediate results or want immediate results, but we don’t EXPECT them.   Anything of great quality or lasting value is something that has to be worked for, and even sacrificed for. Let me explain this in a very real and personal way.   I have been producing and publishing the stories from Wanted Hero for more than 15 years now.   I have had a wide variety of what I would deem successes, but I’ve never become wealthy and the money I have made hasn’t been consistent. On the flip side, I’m very quick to include that in the things that really matter, meaning the impact and influence these stories have had on other people, the results have exceeded my expectations thus far.   You see, I want to make a real difference in a readers life.   Maybe we’ve never met and perhaps we never will, but that doesn’t make any difference to me. Knowing or even imagining that something I’m saying or doing on this website is helping another person is what charges me. It is what gets me up early in the morning and the drive that pushes me beyond my normal capabilities.   To place myself in a position to reach readers takes time...and it takes a considerable amount of effort.   Over the course of the last 15 years I have written thousands of articles, more than a dozen books, made hundreds of podcasts, written thousands upon thousands of comments and reached out to hundreds of other authors. The hardest part about all of that effort being expended is not being able to see any results 90% of the time.   No comments, no feedback, nothing.   I’m just writing my heart onto a scrap of paper, walking to the top of the highest mountain and letting the wind take it where it will   That’s not what I actually do, but it is how I feel oftentimes. It’s almost enough to break one’s heart.   Almost.   It took me quite some time to realize that people MATTER to me.   Not what they say, not what they do—just people…as they ARE…matters to me.   It’s not important if people think I’m crazy or stupid or ignorant or chasing a pipe dream. I want to live in a world where people are happy, safe, and striving to be the best THEM they can possibly be—whatever that is.   So I keep trying.   There is this small, soft voice—in my heart—that constantly tells me to keep going.   He tells me this will work.
(I pretend ‘he’ is my very best friend, who always encourages me to do good in my life…)   He says it’ll work.   Definitely.   Absolutely.   Eventually.   Maybe this is too much for you to swallow or accept yourself, I don’t know.   What I DO know is that if you truly want to make a difference or you truly want to promote your book or product or maybe even create a book or product, it’s going to take time.   That is the price.
One of them, at least.   I started with my goal to make 100 sales at day from this website and it hasn’t happened...YET.   But it will.   I know it will, and you know why?   Because I’m doing the RIGHT things for the RIGHT reasons, in the RIGHT order, EVERY DAY.   Part of that process includes seeking out my weaknesses and focusing on eliminating them one by one.   This is going to work because I’m willing to sacrifice, my family is willing to sacrifice, and even my FRIENDS are willing to sacrifice to make this happen.   I don’t know about you, but that says a lot to me.   So don’t you give up.
Don’t you DARE give up.   Enjoy the adventure, enjoy the experience, and realize that the alternative to pushing forward seriously sucks.     Talk to you next time.  


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29 Sep, 2020 00:27

Thank you for sharing your wisdom! I needed to read this today.

29 Sep, 2020 04:50

Then it was just for YOU, my dear friend! =)

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29 Sep, 2020 18:15

well stated. Thank you.

“Do justly. Love mercy. Walk humbly. This is enough.” – John Adams from Micah 6:8
29 Sep, 2020 20:37

Thank you. You're welcome =)

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18 Mar, 2021 05:58

Thank you so much for this article and the wisdom you gave to me earlier!

19 Mar, 2021 13:50

If it helped you, I'm tickled. =)

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23 Oct, 2022 12:43

Thanks for the words of wisdom, Jaime. I needed to read these today. It helped. :D

24 Oct, 2022 17:09

I will always be cheering you on, my friend.   Always.

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