Thursday, April 12, 2012

What It Takes To Succeed In Publishing

I always like to stop and think about the people who really make it in this business, and those people who either never make the jump, or end up disappearing in a cloud of dust after their careers start. Like any other career out there, I think we can really stop and identify key characteristics of people who make it and those who don't.

What I often hear authors talk about is how hard they try and they never succeed. While this is certainly an important element for success, this is not the entire picture. I remember, for example, an instructor at one of my universities make the comment that the amount of work you do on a paper is not a graded criteria in his class. In other words, one student can work 1 hour on an assignment and another can work 20 hours on an assignment and earn the same grade. One person can blow off the assignment, throw out a piece of garbage and earn a great grade. Again, it is not just about effort.

So, what does it take to succeed? Please note I am talking about success as taking your writing and turning it into a career. We're not talking hobby here.

TALENT - Look the fact is simple. Some people have it and some don't. Yes, we can go out an learn all we can about a subject, but that doesn't mean we have the natural talent to succeed in a given area. While we all have the ability to express human emotions and feelings on paper, we can all craft a stories that have a plot, or create characters that have Goals, Motivations, and Conflicts, this doesn't mean you really have it and can be successful with it.

Now, in some cases, people have that talent but it needs to be discovered. That means during that education process, you will find that talent. But we have to face the truth that some people just don't have it.

DEDICATION - This is that internal drive. Writers cannot be scared away from rejections, bad reviews or the like. In this business, because it is so subjective, you are bound to have disappointments. When these things happen, you have to do what professional athletes do. If they have a great performance, that lock that image in their memory and work with it. If they have a bad performance, they don't dwell on it, but remember the good performances.

A WILLINGNESS TO LEARN AND GROW - This business is constantly changing and growing. As a writer, you too have to be willing to learn and grow with this business. Thinking you have it all figured out is a sure sign of someone who is about to slam into a brick wall. With every challenge, you have to force yourself to learn and grow to adapt into a new type of writer. Yes, you can keep your voice, but you as a writer will likely find yourself finding areas of weakness that have to be fixed.

A CLEAR VISION OF WHERE YOU WANT TO BE - Motivational speakers say, "If you don't know where you are going then you will end up in a place you don't want to be." The same holds true for publishing. You have to know what you want and have a clear vision of how you will get there.

Does any of this mean we should give up on our goals and dreams. ABSOLUTELY NOT! Fight for it, go for those dreams. But remember, when we talk about goal setting, we always make sure to keep it real.

Just something to think about for a Thursday.



  1. I think now you really have to educate yourself in this business and learn everything there is to know. I have learned so much in the past two years about writing and publishing and I'm so glad that I stopped sending out submissions not that I've sent out very many but I'm glad that I stopped to learn what it was about.

  2. Love your blog, Scott. Straightforward and no bull. Thank you for sharing.

  3. Yes, yes, and yes. I'd like to add, "have a little faith in yourself. All those instincts can't be wrong. And forget those "how to" books. If you're a writer, you'll figure it out. If you aren't, they won't help you."