As National Book Blogging Month (NaBoBloMo) 2013 comes to a close, it’s time to ask yourself an important question: Do You have what it takes to become a successful author? If you blogged your book in 30 days, you know you can complete a manuscript. If you followed the lessons in the How to Blog a Better Book series that appeared during April, your manuscript should possess the ability to succeed—to attract readers and to generate sales. But what about you? Are you up to the task of helping yourself and your book succeed?
What Do You Consider Success?
Before you can answer this question, you must know how you define success. In particular, you must know if your definition of success is different than the definition used by the publishing industry. The industry defines success in terms of sales. Thus, a book or an author is considered “successful” if it has the ability to generate above average sales.
The average book sells only 500 copies per year, reports Publisher’s Weekly. Some say 80 percent of the books on Amazon sell fewer than five copies per month. I’ve seen calculations showing that the average ebook author makes under $300 per year.
Do you want to be average or above average? It’s important to know this. Being average in the publishing industry isn’t easy. Being above average is even more difficult. So, define success, and then determine what you must do to reach that goal. You must also decide if you are willing to do what it takes to achieve that goal.
You Need an “Author Attitude” to Succeed
You may think that all you need to produce a successful book or to become a successful author is a great idea, a sound book or story structure, and a well-crafted manuscript. And sometimes that is enough. More often creating a bestseller—a book with above-average sales, involves more than that.
It takes a particular attitude, which I call “Author Attitude.” I teach this attitude in my Author Training 101 class and in my new book, The Author’s Training Manual (Writer’s Digest Books, Winter 2014). Here are the essential elements of that attitude:
- Willingness: To become a successful author you need a general willingness to change and grow. Your old attitudes, actions, behaviors, thoughts, decisions, beliefs, and habits have only gotten you this far. They have helped you achieve your current results. If you now want a new level of success as a writer, you must be willing to change.
- Optimism: Whether you call it faith, positive thinking, reverse pessimism, or learned optimism, to become a successful author you must be willingness to see everything that happens to you—negative or positive—as pushing you closer to your goal of successful authorship.
- Objectivity: To become a successful author you need a willingness to see yourself and your work through the lens used by publishing professionals, such as literary agents and acquisitions editors. You must see your work as both a creative project and a business proposition and evaluate yourself and your work objectively from a publishing-business perspective.
- Tenacity: To become an author, you have to be willing to do whatever it takes for however long it takes to reach your goal. Determination, persistence and perseverance carry you though to successful authorship.
Becoming an author entails wearing many hats, not the least of which is a writer’s hat. You need an attitude that will serve you well as you take off your writer’s hat and put on all the other hats necessary to help you and your book succeed.
Attitude is a choice. That one choice can make the difference between your success or failure as an author.