4 Keys to Author Success

A MCS Blogs 6The first advice given to me by a publishing lawyer was, “Authors read, write, publish, and market.” That may have sounded obvious, but I’ve based my entire career on that advice knowing that the key to success is excelling in reading, writing, publishing, and marketing. If you can do that, then you will have a long, rewarding career as an author.

(You can gain more ideas by visiting 12 Month Author Marketing Plan!)

Excel at READING

Successful authors read more than they do anything else. If you want to make money writing books, then you must make time to read books.

~ Successful authors read many great books.

~ Successful authors read many horrible books.

~ Successful authors read fiction of all kinds of genres, non-fiction books of all types, magazines, newspapers, and pamphlets in the doctor’s office.

~ Successful authors read business and marketing books, along with biographies to gain unique ideas to increase book sales.

Join the 9 Minute Reading Challenge. It will change your life!

Excel at WRITING

There are two areas that you need to excel in writing:

~ Storytelling

~ Mechanics

There are three ways to excel in storytelling:

~ Be unique.

~ Dig deeper.

~ Write for your audience, rather than writing for yourself.

If you read a fiction story about a serial killer, then read a non-fiction book about pilots that fly private jets, then read a magazine article about how middle age couples should go on more trips, then read a pamphlet on a vacation spot called, Poet’s Cove, then you may come up with the idea of a serial killer-pilot that takes couples to Poet’s Cove in his private jet and murders them.

That story is unique because you put together pieces from several different sources.

However, to be successful, you need to dig deeper in the storyline and the characters. Make the pilot a woman. Make one of the couples trying to hide from a crime they committed. Make the vacation spot a private area that is run by a psychotic elderly man.

Once you have done that, then dig deeper. The more you dig, the more success you will have.

And take some advice from non-fiction authors. They write books that benefit a certain audience and change their lives for the better. How are your fiction books benefiting a certain audience and changing their lives for the better?

There are two ways to excel in writing mechanics:

~ Flow

~ Layout

These days, children, teens, and adults want to read books that are fast moving. Keep your paragraphs and chapters short, use one-line power sentences, and keep descriptions to a minimum.

Also, use dialogue as a way to speed up your book. Use “Script Dialogue” to move the story even faster. (Script dialogue is putting the name in front of the character that is speaking rather than saying, “he said,” or “she said.”)

Use every word in your book to benefit your audience. For example, instead of using the dedication as a way for you to thank someone, use the dedication as part of the story. “I dedicate this book to the vampires that follow me around.” This will allow your reader to be hooked before they read the first sentence of your book!


Do you know the function of hardbacks, paper backs, and eBooks? They are all ways to package your books for the reader. The purpose of publishing is to print or create your books then distribute them.

The true way to excel in publishing is to spend less time and money on publishing, while spending more of your time and money on reading, writing, and marketing. If you are spending $1,000 on publishing a book and no money on marketing, then you aren’t excelling.

If you spend $2,500 on publishing and spend $10 on reading other books, then you aren’t excelling.

The problem with authors publishing their own books is that it has become more important than reading, writing, and marketing. That’s why so many authors fail and only a few succeed.


Let’s say your target readers are female middle grade students. That’s who you have in mind when you write books and those are the students that you want to benefit in some way.

~ Do you know the difference between middle school students in Dallas and middle school students in Cleveland?

~ Do you know which bookstores would sell your books and which would ignore you?

~ Do you know which media outlets favor middle school students in certain areas?

~ Based on your storylines and characters, which areas in the United States have the highest percentage of your ideal middle grade readers?

~ Of those areas, which have the highest incomes and students that read fiction stories on their own?

~ Once you locate the ideal areas, how will you reach your target audience? What will you say? How will you promote?

Advertising has become a bad word for authors. Instead, you’re being told to use social media, blogs, and SEO (Search Engine Optimization) to reach your target audience.

If that’s true, then you’re assuming that middle grade readers will enjoy your social media posts more than a cool looking bookmark.

Also, are you saying that blogging is more powerful to middle school students than a poster hanging in the school library?

Are you saying that SEO has more of an impact than you speaking in front of a 7th grade class?

Successful authors budget at least $50 a month on marketing and save for traditional advertising like postcards, bookmarks, new paper advertisements, posters, flyers, speaking engagements, etc…)

To excel in marketing, you have to:

~ Spend a little money.

~ Spend a little time.

~ Use the correct marketing information.

Excel in reading, writing, publishing, and marketing, then success will follow.

Ron Knight

Do you need a step-by-step marketing plan for the next year? Check out 12 Month Author Marketing Plan!


Ron Knight

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