Twenty-Two Lessons for Authors

Welcome to Author 101, where you will learn several valuable lessons to improve in the craft of writing and beome a career author. Read over the lessons with an open mind and great care. It is a systematic instruction list, used both as a warning and as encouragement.

LESSON ONE: Do not use lack of money or lack of resources as an excuse.

  • Reading is free at the library.
  • Options for writing are endless.
  • Marketing can be done through social media.
  • Do not pay for publishing unless the above three have been mastered. 

LESSON TWO: Some of the best authors buried their dream deep inside, but that dream always fights to come out.

  • If you were born to be an author, then you must become an author. Do not try to be something that you are not.
  • If taking years to be an author sounds discouraging, then I am very sorry. However, you still have to be an author. 

LESSON THREE: It takes a great amount of courage and faith to skip the “paycheck” and go for your dreams.

  • You were probably something else before you decided to be an author. You should certainly pay your bills and take care of your family. Just remember not to neglect your author career.
  • Many people will try to talk you out of being an author, because they do not understand what you are going through.
  • Authors are usually broke at first. Since there is no money to do anything else, the author has more time to read and write.

LESSON FOUR: All your experiences and places you have worked can be used to your advantage as an author.

  • The reason for an “Author Bio” is so that literary agents, publishers, and readers can know more about your qualifications.
  • All your humbling moments are useful in your writing.
  • Everyone can be valuable to your career. Family, friends, co-workers, church members, school, and the club you joined, can turn into ideas for your writing or outlets for selling your book. 

LESSON FIVE: No one becomes the CEO of a company in their first year.

  • Authors have to work their way up the ladder, just like any other profession.
  • Rejection and disappointment are synonymous with the publishing industry. Do not accept that philosophy.
  • You should have an endless determination to excel in reading, writing, marketing, and acquiring publishing knowledge.
  • The publishing industry is the only trade in the world that moves at a snails pace.
  • If you do not have patience, you are in big trouble.  

LESSON SIX: When the time is right, someone will cross paths with you and change your life as an author.

  • Use your time wisely. Get ready for your big break. Improve your craft daily.
  • The person who will change your life, can not cross paths with you while you are sitting on the couch watching reruns of CSI: Miami.
  • Make sure you are perceived as an author. Do not use Facebook to fume about your tough day. 

LESSON SEVEN: Someday when you look back on your first novel, you will realize that you were still learning.

  • Can you honesty say that your first novel will be just as good as your tenth novel? If not, then you understand that it will take time for you to improve.
  • Writing several books opens the secret wisdom of becoming an author.
  • Bestselling author James Patterson has this advice for all new authors, “Write another.” Meaning, if you want to succeed with your books…write another

LESSON EIGHT: You are fifteen years away from having a career as an author.

  • If you do not want that to be true, then prove me wrong. What have you done today? What do you plan to do tomorrow? How much time will you spend on your craft? How much reading, writing, and marketing will you accomplish this month?
  • No one is going to hold your hand. 

LESSON NINE: Authors are rejected.

  • Literary agents and traditional publishers are looking for a reason to reject you, not a reason to like you. Put yourself in a position to succeed. Do not give anyone an excuse to discard you or your work.
  • If you are rejected by a literary agent or publisher, then you need to improve. That’s okay, because you planned on improving anyway. 

LESSON TEN: Authors read.

  • You cannot write a great book until you have read a great book.
  • Understanding what makes an entertaining story and polished writing mechanics are discovered through reading.
  • If you do not have time to read, then you do not have time to be an author. 

LESSON ELEVEN: You should put the same effort into marketing your book, as you did writing your book.

  • If you spent $1,500 on self-publishing and $50 making your own website, then something is wrong.
  • How can anyone notice you, unless they know about you?
  • Your audience will not magically appear when you finished your book.
  • When writing, you imagined someone would eventually read your book. Who is that person? Describe in detail, because that is your target audience.
  • If you do not mention your marketing plan in the query letter, then do not send it out. 

LESSON TWELVE: Depend on yourself for success.

  • Take hold of your career. Act like no one else will do anything to help you.
  • Never depend on chance or luck for your success.
  • No one cares more about your dream, than you. 

LESSON THIRTEEN: Be out front of your book, not behind it.

  • Network with others in the publishing industry.
  • Attend events and introduce yourself.
  • Concentrate on building your audience.
  • Brand your name with a marketing agency.
  • Study authors that have succeeded.
  • Understand what everyone wants. (Readers, bookstores, literary agents, and publishers.) 

LESSON FOURTEEN: Ancillary products are a terrific way to promote your book and earn extra money.

  • Sell different types of T-shirts with one of the following: Your name, your book title, book cover, or a symbol from your book.
  • Posters, using the same ideas as T-shirts.
  • Work out a deal with a local band to create a theme song for your book.
  • Use the song in a book trailer. (Like a music video.)
  • Give away small promotional items with your name, book title, and website. 

LESSON FIFTEEN: Selling 5,000 books in your local area is more impressive than selling 5,000 books around the world.

  • Build your audience in your hometown.
  • Do not try to reach the planet. Achieve one victory at a time.
  • If you cannot sell books in your hometown, then you cannot sell your books anywhere.

 LESSON SIXTEEN: Join forces with other authors.

  • Every author has at least 100 fans. If you join forces with 10 authors, then your potential fan base will increase to 1,000. If you connected with 100 authors, then your potential fan base will increase to at least 10,000. And remember, some authors have a larger audience.
  • Help other authors and they will help you. Promote each other on Facebook, purchase their books, give constructive feedback, and put their web link on your website. 

LESSON SEVENTEEN: Do not limit your writing.

  • You have a gift. Try writing with different genres. You will open up a new world of hidden talent.
  • Write a story for a local magazine. This is a marketing goldmine.
  • Break down barriers, setbacks, and that rut you are in, by changing up your stories. 

LESSON EIGHTEEN: Ease the pressure.

  • There will always be authors. Help yourself by not trying to be the best selling author in the world.
  • Every author on the planet is your brother or sister. Act accordingly.
  • Know that you will sometimes fail. Also know that you will occasionally succeed.
  • Concentrate on how many days you spent as an author, not how many books you have sold.

LESSON NINETEEN: To increase your audience, give them what they want.

  • What do people like to read these days?
  • What are the readers needs?
  • What entertainment do readers crave?
  • How do readers want to feel?
  • What do people want to read in a book?
  • Are you providing the answer to these questions? If so, you can reach a massive audience. 

LESSON TWENTY: Keep your chapters short.

  • Chapters that are 2-5 pages long will give the reader a feeling of “speed.” If the book does not read fast, then it will probably fail.
  • Readers like to decide on when to take a break. Short chapters will provide that service. 

LESSON TWENTY-ONE: Avoid scene setting, back-stories, and character description whenever possible.

  • This goes against everything you were taught. New authors concentrate more on what surrounds the story, then the actual story.
  • Readers want to be tossed into a book, gripped, and hold on to the very end. Do not test the reader’s patience, as you describe your characters looks, their past, and the scene they are in. 

LESSON TWENTY-TWO: Do not fail today.

  • Do you understand that advice? I do not want to hear about your tough road, or the chances of you selling millions of books. I just want you to understand that today is not the kind of day to fail.  

“If you want to write for yourself, get a diary. If you want to write for your friends, get a blog. If you want to write for others…become an author.” ~ James Patterson 

Ron Knight

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  1. oh wow. Ron, this is why I adore your advice. It’s like you unravel souls and read them out loud, showing a map. I love lesson two. In some aspects I fail. But in others I think I’m succeeding, but blogs like this load my guns and make me want to fire those targets 😀

    Thank you