10 Things You Must Do to be a Successful Author

10 Things You Must Do to be a Successful Author

Authors at Work

Some of you might be thinking about being a writer when you get older. First, why wait? And second, make sure you cultivate these 10 traits. Every successful author I know has done these things (and continues to do them.)

  • Share. You probably learned this in preschool. It’s one of those life lessons that serves you well all the way through adulthood.
  • Be nice. You might think it’s funny or harmless to talk about someone in a nasty way, or to spread a rumor about someone, but it’s going to bite you in the butt later.  My father used to always say, “what goes ’round, comes ’round.” This can be a good thing or bad thing, but one way or another you’ll reap what you sow.  Trust me. Been there, done that. Got the T-shirt. And been on both sides of this equation.

Side story —

The other day, I was following an interesting Facebook post. In it, one of the commenters made a few grammatical errors. She happened to be a teacher. Another commenter, who didn’t agree with what was written by that teacher, verbally attacked her by emphasizing her poor use of grammar and how she shouldn’t be a teacher. Really?

Consider this:

When you don’t agree with someone, how do you believe you should handle the situation?

Getting along with others is crucial to your success in just about any thing you do in life. Sometimes hiding behind screen names makes even adults forget this important skill.

  • Identify mentors. Find adult role models whom you know and respect. You’ll need several throughout your writing career.
  • Listen. You can learn a lot by simply listening to what people are saying, or not saying, in situations. These are the morsels of a good story.
  • Watch. We speak more with our bodies than we do with our voices. Pay close attention. There’s a story waiting to be told in the way a person’s body speaks.
  • Read. There are only two ways to become a better writer. This is one of them. Read fiction and non-fiction, including books about writing.
  • Write. Take chances with your writing. Nothing is bad. Everything is useful. Some writing is simply better or more useful than other writing. You can’t call yourself a writer if you don’t actually write. Thinking about writing, isn’t the same as writing. Set goals. Exceed goals. This is the second way to become a better writer.
  • Believe. This is probably the most difficult thing for every writer to come to terms with. You must believe in your ability as a writer. What others believe isn’t nearly as relevant as what you tell yourself about your writing.
  • Learn about the industry. The days of finding an agent (which can take a very long time, and a lot of effort, but you should consider for some projects) who then submits your work to one of the Big 6 publishers, has changed dramatically. The awesome news is that now, more than ever before, you, the author, are in the driver’s seat. You can decide to indie publish, hybrid publish, or go after the Big 6.
  • Learn to market. What? You’re just a kid? There are thousands of kids like you inventing, publishing, and marketing their ideas and products. Check out The Secret Millionaire’s Club., Kid President, or Erik and Felicia (both were guests on my live podcast, Back Porch Writer.)


Take advice from people you see moving in the direction that you want to go.

Don’t take advice from broke people, negative people, or people who aren’t supportive of your dreams and goals.



I look forward to reading what you write!

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