Occasionally people ask me for the “secret of my success” either in relation to my books or my web presence.
In fact, in a recent interview, Marcy Kennedy of Girls With Pens asked me to share the secret to my social media success. Here was my answer: “There are a lot of factors that have helped me to grow my web presence. If I had to pick the top ingredient—the one thing that has helped me the most—I’d have to say hard work. There’s no easy way to gain a following. It takes dogged determination day after day.”
But interestingly his point number five was this: Successful creatives work hard.
Hyatt said, “The best creatives are not lazy. They don’t assume that their work is done once the book is written, the speech prepared, or the album recorded. In a real sense, their work has only just begun. They don’t display a spirit of entitlement. Instead, they roll up their sleeves and do the work that lesser creatives are unwilling to do.”
It’s tempting to look at writers with large platforms or best-selling books and think that somehow they had an insider connection, or got exceptionally lucky, or made it big before the market changed, or have a better publisher, or whatever.
If I were to let you glimpse through the screen of my laptop into my home so that you could watch me in action, you wouldn’t see any minions running around doing my work for me. And I don’t have super human powers.
No, instead you would see me sitting with my hands on the keyboard working hard, day after day. Over the past several years I’ve literally spent every spare moment pouring my energy into my books and into building a web presence.
Hard work has indeed been the primary ingredient in helping me climb forward in my writing career. There are no shortcuts. No easy paths. And anyone who thinks so is terribly deluded.
Whether we’re working to complete a novel, or find an agent, or land a book contract, or to find a way to market our self-published book—there aren’t any simple ways to find success.
As I’ve watched the market change over the past several years, I’ve tried to make sense of what’s happening. More writers than ever before are fulfilling the dream of publication by self-publishing. Even traditional publishers seem to be spreading themselves broader—having a wider base of authors with small to mediocre sales rather than a narrow base of big sellers.
I’m seeing that most authors (particularly in the CBA market) are ending up getting lost in that wide pool of mediocre sales. I know authors who feel lucky to sell 5000 books. Recently agent Steve Laube mentioned in his post "What Are Average Book Sales" that 10,000 sales is fairly typical for a MAJOR publisher. For self-publishing, most writers can expect to sell even less.
Let’s face it, if we work hard enough to finally fulfill the dream of publication (whether through self or traditional publication), most of us will struggle to sell our books—even our really good, well-written books.
I’m not saying all of this to be a naysayer. Rather, I’m pointing out that NOW more than ever before, writers need to expect to work hard if they want to rise above average.
Maybe some writers will be completely satisfied with seeing their book in print—regardless of the sales. Maybe some will find happiness in knowing that readers are enjoying their books—no matter the numbers.
Everyone defines personal success differently. But let’s be honest, after spending months pouring our hearts and souls into our stories, most of us want our books to sell well. We want them to succeed. We don’t want to get lost in the millions of books out there.
The bottom line for me is hard work. There’s nothing magical about it. We just have to roll up our sleeves, get our hands dirty, and do what needs to be done. Digging for a successful writing career is not for the faint of heart.
Do you agree with my opinion? Can hard work really put you ahead in today’s market? Or do you think that other factors are more important?
Here's where I'm at in my blog tour! Make sure to swing by!
Friday 9/30: I'm stopping by Diane Estrella's blog and sharing what 5 items I could NOT leave behind if I went on a trip like Priscilla in The Doctor's Lady!Plus I'm giving away a signed book!