The Four Elements of a Successful Author

We all want to be successful right? We want to make money as authors so we can write full time? That's what I want.

I thought to myself one night, "If I could clone myself to be more productive, what would I want to do with my time and how many clones would I need?"

The answer was three clones. One clone to focus on marketing/publishing, one clone to edit, and one clone to master outreach. That way I'd be freed up to write instead of slogging through learning and accomplishing the other three tasks.

These are the pillars, legs of a stool, the four walls to your "Self-Publishing House," or however you want to visualize it. This is what you need to be a successful author.





Each of these by and for themselves is like having a full-time job, which makes it hard to get through all of them, especially for an author who's just starting out. I still feel overwhelmed. It just seems like too much for one person. On top of that, there's day jobs, family, and friends.

Let's be honest for a moment. When you're just starting out, it's going to take time to master any one of these items, let alone all four. Be patient with yourself, and do the work to get successful. There aren't shortcuts.

Alright, let's dive into these four pillars.

Writing -

Content can also take all shapes: blog posts, articles, novels, novellas, short stories, poetry children's books etc. It's not just limited to these either. Creating the art for the art's sake takes a lot of time and energy. Think about how long it takes to write 1,000 words.

You need content. To be a successful author, you need publish and to share with readers so that they can interact with your work. Whether you publish fiction or nonfiction, you need to have a platform where you can publish your works regularly for potential fans to sample your work and get to know you. If they like you and your work, they'll buy your books. If not, don't get discouraged. It's just not the right fit, and that's O.K.

Focus on sharing meaningful, helpful, or entertaining pieces. You could publish short snippets of fiction, things you're researching for your novels, or what inspires you to write.

What does the public really want? To be entertained. But you gotta prove yourself before they'll give you a chance.

Stuck? The War of Art by Steven Pressfield is a great book to read to help you out of writer's block and over the slump.

Editing -

It's hard to edit our own writing. Not only that, it's time consuming.

What happens is our brains get used to seeing the information and begins to skip over the things it already knows, but writing is such a mentally taxing task, that we can think we're doing great, but the elements of our writing -flow, grammar, punctuation- might not be as tight as we originally thought. That's why editing is so important.

Our brains are constantly working, but only pay attention to a select amount of information at a time, usually ignoring everything else. It ascertains first what is important to our safety (usually anything out of the ordinary), then whatever we deem important.

Fresh eyes are ideal for catching mistakes, however, if you can't get fresh or professional eyes to catch your mistakes, put away your manuscript until your brain can come back vigilant. Changing fonts, colors, and sizes will also help a lazy or overly familiar brain stay on track.

(I have a few more tricks in the eBook Enhance Your Writing which you can get for free by subscribing to my Free Resources page.

Publishing -

I've spent more hours than I can count searching the internet for publishing information. I came away confused, overwhelmed, and discouraged, especially where traditional publishing is concerned. There's the pitch/query, lists of agents, researching how to submit manuscripts, writing different lengths of synopsis's.

Then there's self-publishing which is it's own beast, because now you're doing all the editing, formatting, book cover, production stuff yourself.

There is a lot of help out there for authors, finding the most helpful, most relevant information can be difficult sometimes. so I'm going to share some of the people I follow and books I've read.

Books -

Your First 1,000 Copies by Tim Grahl

Discoverability by Kristine Kathryn Rusch

How to Market a Book by Joanna Penn

People to Follow -

Tim Grahl at

Jeff Goins at

Seth Godin at

Joanna Penn at

They have fantastic insights for authors.

Outreach -

We need people to see and appreciate our work if we want to make a living as writers. Learning how to do outreach correctly is a critical part of gaining readership and fans who will look forward to your next works.

In fact, gaining your own audience of about 10,000 email subscribers is about the only way to get a traditional publishing contract anymore because publishers want to know that you can sell the book yourself.

Again, I'd recommend the above books and people to follow, because they're very helpful with outreach. I'd also like to add the book Tribes by Seth Godin.

These are the four pillars of Successful Authors. This is what you have to master for yourself.

I know how difficult and time-consuming it is trying to wade through all the information out there. What I can tell you is that little by little, learning here and there, writing when you can, is enough. It'll take time, but it can work. Be patient with yourself and with the process.

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