5 Ways Writers Sabotage Their Success

A high-school freshman told me she didn’t want to go to college. “I just want to write novels,” she said. “I can write better stories than the ones I read, and I know I can be successful.”

I admired her confidence, but I pointed out that becoming a successful writer takes more than a desire to write. It takes knowledge, stamina, and a lot of hard work. Writing is more than just writing—it’s a business—and focusing on just writing is one way that writers sabotage their success.

Now, here are four more:

“I don’t know how to

find an agent, submit my work to a publisher, format my novel in Microsoft Word, market and sell my books, etc.”

The good news is you are not alone. Every successful writer started out knowing little or nothing about the publishing business. They went to writers’ conferences, asked a lot of questions, did research, and acquired at least a basic knowledge of how publishing works. By the time they were ready to share their first book with the world, they understood how to get the process started.

Unless you decide to self-publish your book and have a fool-proof plan for selling a million copies (If you do, please share.) learning about the business of writing is essential for success.

“I hate social media.”

The ways that books are written, published, and marketed has changed dramatically in the last ten years. Digital publishing forced many brick and mortar stores to close, and writers and publishers have flocked to social media to promote and sell their books on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Google+ and other similar sites.

Some writers, especially those over 50, balk at the idea of electronic publishing and social media marketing. But if they don’t change their habits, they will surely sabotage their success. Today’s publishers demand from writers a strong social media presence. It is one of the key things they look for when considering a writer’s book.

“I don’t have time.”

“I barely have time to write. I’m busy working full time and caring for my family. I don’t have time to spend on social media and learning the business side of writing.”

(Take a deep breath.)

The solution is spending more time not writing. Set aside certain days of the week when you will write and days when you will spend your “writing time” learning the business of writing and building your social media presence. Sure, it’s difficult breaking away from your work-in-progress, but successful writers make time for learning and social media tasks.

“Maybe I’m not good enough.”

You might be your worst saboteur. Tell yourself, “I’m learning to be successful.” Then make time to add to your knowledge, and practice what you learn.

Make a list of questions about the business of writing. If you research the answer to one question each day, before long you will be a business-savvy author . . .

Like I said, becoming a successful writer takes knowledge, stamina, and a lot of hard work”—

but it’s worth it.
Don’t you agree?


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Filed under The Business of Writing

3 responses to “5 Ways Writers Sabotage Their Success

  1. Cecelia Lester

    Thank you for your forthrightness. I get bogged down in the process of reaching out to a higher plane. I need this pep talk to at least point me in the right direction.

  2. klelange

    It is worth it. It isn’t always a picnic, but the rewards are great. These are good points – to be successful, we have to count the cost. I always recommend that aspiring authors/writers take good writing courses. I learned so much from the Institute for Children’s Literature courses I took years ago. I see writers wandering around trying to gather info and experience, and courses like this cover it from A to Z, or nearly so. They offer valuable help and insight and a head start into the field. Good post, Jean!

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