Recently, with so many authors writing such successful books, I’ve started thinking deeply about the authors who have these great successes. What is it about certain authors who become successful? What is it about their personality that makes them so receptive to success? I’ve come to the conclusion that a lot of it comes down to… attitude.
Inside the minds of some authors, there is a fundamental problem with accepting fate and accepting the success of their fellow authors. Sometimes we see jealousy or misguided anger at the success of others. Sometimes there’s melancholy and the wishes— “I wish my book was doing so well.” It could be said that these authors think only about themselves. They behave in a way that makes it difficult to cross-promote them; they only ask about their own projects, their own successes and failures, and things that… well, things that concern them. It’s a crying shame when we have this genre growing every single day, with more authors and readers arriving at the door of the genre each passing moment. Why would anyone not want to reach out to these people?
On the other hand, let’s look at many of the authors who find huge success with Western readers. Now, those people tend to be less interested in the gain, less interested in the self, less interested in their own achievements (or lack thereof or abundance of). They think in a wider, productive way. “What can we do to sell more Westerns across the board?” they will ask. “Who is writing what?” “Where can I read this?” “Can I write a foreword for that book?” “Can I help that author out?”
Time and time again, these are the two philosophies that clash every single day, and recently I’ve been working on something new. It’s called “ask about others.” In the morning when I get up, I usually find my inbox crammed to the rafters with emails and messages that, in many cases, are author-centric. They are just about the author themselves—what they like, don’t like, don’t want, do want, etc… And then there are the emails and messages where the author talks about the genre, the authors he’s enjoyed reading, a great story line an author had, the authors he’s met, so on and so forth. So… from here on in, I’ve been asking all authors to come up with at least one thing per conversation that focuses on something other than their own books.
The sky, the weather, the heat, the waves, the end of the world—whatever—but by doing this, I believe what has worked well for some authors who have had great success (which, I believe, was caused to some degree by their interest in the world outside of themselves) can occur across the genre. Yes—we are looking for a change of attitude across the board.
Case study: A recent author who is a good friend of mine never once asked about other authors who were releasing books, authors who were writing good stories. He focused exclusively on his own projects. Those projects were mildly successful, but nothing to brag about. Once we started to talk of things far and wide, across the board, he loosened up with his solo-obsession, and things started happening. He understood more of what was going on within the genre, more of what was popular with readers, more of his role as an author. And believe me—authors have a role much greater than just putting words on paper with an eye for hoping it sells. Authors have a duty to entertain readers, and give readers the best they can produce in order to entertain, educate and enlighten the audience. To bring a smile to the audience’s face! It goes far deeper than just selling books.
So, if you find that you’re constantly talking about your own books, or constantly bemoaning that readers aren’t reading your books, that you aren’t getting the sales you want, or that nobody is interested in what you have to say—try flipping over that apple and start widening your thought process. Could it do any harm?
As always, I would love to hear your thoughts on this article, and I’d love to hear about books you’ve enjoyed reading lately. You can contact me through the form below.