What makes a writer successful?
It depends on how you define success. For some writers, it’s creating a runaway bestseller. For others it’s winning literary awards; and for still others, it’s building a reputation for writing good books and publishing them regularly, which will bring notoriety and a nice supplemental income. How you determine success depends on your current status and how much time you devote to gaining that success.
A successful writing career entails knowledge of the craft
First, a successful writer needs a command of language. That command means studying the craft of writing. Yes, spellcheck and writing apps can help a great deal, but if you don’t know the difference between words that sound alike but are spelled differently, spellcheck can’t help you. Can you incorporate symbolism into your book via figures of speech? Are you adept at using universal symbols, or hiding symbolism so it’s unobtrusive yet still adds to theme development? Sorry but you don’t just wake up one day and decide to write. There’s a lot of reading and studying to do.
Are you studying your favorite authors
What’s your writing style? Have you developed one yet? And I don’t mean expository, narrative, persuasive, and descriptive. I mean the way a writer writes. It’s a voice—a technique an author uses that’s different from other authors, and I hear it every time I read their work. Nora Roberts has her own style, but she changes that style completely when she writes as her pseudonym, J. D. Robb. James Patterson’s style is to write short chapters of quick dialog and lots of action. Most successful writers develop a style and those of us who have favorites can identify their styles. Studying them is a most pleasant master class.
Then, there’s character study
Most successful writers have been studying characters all of their lives. Embellishing a story with details that show the character limping or stuttering is just innate to great storytellers whether they’re writing or recounting an incident to friends. Doing imitations to drive home a picture of the shifty-eyed, son-of-a-gun is what successful authors do. It can be learned, but it takes a lot of reading of good books. You haven’t studied character development until you’ve held a book to your chest, closed your eyes and marveled over the author’s delicious details of his character. Until you do that, you don’t know spit about what to do in your own story.
The correct presentation of locale
Are you writing about a place you’ve never been? Well that doesn’t always work out. If you’re writing about a place we’re all curious about, you’d better get it right. Some of your readers will hail from that locale and they’ll tell you if you get it wrong. This is one instance where “write what you know” is very important. If you’re writing about Denver, readers who’ve never been there want to see Denver. Even if your book is clean, I’d be delighted to see your character rushing past two aproned, restaurant workers smoking legal marijuana outside.
Studying to market your books
Then, there’s a whole different kind of studying if you intend to achieve writing success. It’s called marketing how-to. That includes identifying which social media outlets will yield the most results. That will take time and measurements. You’ll not only need to study your social media of choice, but study and purchase tools that can collect and analyze the data that determines which media is the most successful. Did your social media selections impact your book sales or simply increase your likes and follows, which may not lead to profits?
Indie authors must be far more prolific in marketing know-how than traditionally published authors. Though lately, these writers are becoming more proficient at marketing by virtue of traditional publishing houses providing an infamously limited amount of marketing for less than bestselling authors.
Creating your own social media outlet
A lot of authors discover that they need a social media outlet of their own and they’ve begun to blog. If you’re the creator and publisher of a blog, additional kinds of studying will include learning about SEO rankings. This helps your blog posts get discovered by search engines. You must learn about keywords, taglines, and secrets like captioning and tagging photos so that search engines can pick it all up.
Also, read and research to decide whether your blog will focus on lifestyles or writing advice. It’s important to attract the right readers so you can promote your book and boost your sales.
Time on Task
Some days all this reading, studying, and promoting is exhausting. It’s especially stressful when what you want is to sit down at the computer and actually write. Remember the adage, “all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.” Scheduling days to enjoy the craft of writing can keep you from becoming Jack or going insane. You don’t need to give it all up. However, traditionally published or Indie published, you still need to research and study your way to success!