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by Patricia Fry

Will You Succeed as a Published Author?

espite all of the information I and other experts share, some of you are still confused, unsure and downright scared to move forward within the publishing industry. Others are focused in a certain direction—ready to make the plunge and unwilling to hear anything that might detract from that.

This article is for authors on both sides of the fence.

I talk to and counsel many hopeful authors every year. Some of them succeed even beyond their highest expectations. But most of them, sooner or later, walk away from their publishing dreams. To give you some perspective, over the last 5 years, I’ve edited 30 books and only 13 of them have been published. And all 13 of these books are considered a success because they have all met the authors’ expectations. Three are personal memoirs produced for family members and friends; four are selling well in small niche markets (as planned); and six of them are doing quite well. Why? Because the authors are making it happen. They had knowledge, realistic expectations, a strong commitment to the success of their projects and a sense of follow-through. The authors of the other 17 books I edited dropped the ball. Some of them have wonderful books. And, even with my counseling, they just couldn’t get it together enough to follow their dreams through the publishing maze.

Why do some authors succeed and others fail? How do some manage to make the right decisions and others do not? Here are 15 things I’ve observed about those who succeed:

1: They begin to educate themselves about the publishing industry early on and keep on learning.

2: They open their minds. They really want to know more about the competition, the industry and how their books will fit in.

3: They look outside of themselves for guidance, and follow up with their own research.

4: They remain committed, but flexible.

5: They do not form unreasonable attachments to their projects.

6: They have reasonable expectations based on knowledge, not dreams.

7: They use their heads more often than their hearts.

8: They do not fear or resent having to make changes that could benefit their projects.

9: They face challenges rather than trying to skirt them.

10: They take responsibility for their projects instead of relying on others.

11: They write book proposals for their projects.

12: They take the marketing role seriously.

13: They start grooming themselves early for the promotional tasks.

14: They never stop researching and learning about publishing and marketing.

15: They make only educated decisions on behalf of their books, not emotional ones.

Does this describe you? Are you well acquainted with how the publishing industry works? Are you comfortable with the learning curve? Can you look at your book project objectively—as a product rather than a piece of your heart? Are you willing to do what it takes to produce and promote your book or are you attached to doing things your way?

If you are new to publishing or if you have a published book that isn’t doing well, maybe this blog post has opened up some thought processes that will help you to create the level of success you desire.

The one thing you MUST own is the fact that your book is your responsibility. No one else can make the decisions for you. It’s up to you to gather the information you need in order to succeed. You are the one responsible for creating a salable product. You are in charge of your destiny as a published author. Don’t short change your project by skimping on the necessities of publishing success.


Patricia Fry is the Executive Director of SPAWN (Small Publishers, Artists and Writers Network) and the author of 35 books. See her most recent books in the left column of this page.

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