Author Tips

Some authors are mildly successful but still happy. Some aren’t even published yet, but they’re still content with their journey. Other authors have great success, yet are still pretty unhappy. What makes the difference? How do we avoid behaviors and circumstances that rob us of joy and steal our contentment?

Happy Author Tips

Here are a few ideas.

1. Happy authors don’t care more about their sales than their writing.

Everyone wants to sell books. We write because we want people to read what we’ve written. But when you’re spending more time checking your sales numbers than working on your latest book, something’s wrong. Keep first things first. Be primarily a writer.

2. Happy authors don’t reject the idea of marketing.

Getting people to buy your books takes marketing effort, and you’ll be unhappily swimming against the tide if you don’t accept it. Best to figure out what kinds of book marketing suit you, and focus on those.

3. Happy authors don’t feel threatened by the editorial process.

The goal of editing is to make your book the very best it can be. So why not embrace it? The best writers learn something from every editing experience, even (or especially) the hard ones.

4. Happy authors don’t believe in writer’s block.

We all occasionally have a bad day at the desk. Sometimes the words just don’t flow. But to chalk it up to writer’s block is to perpetuate it. Instead, take a break. Get some exercise. Do other kinds of creative work. Do free writing. Use writing prompts available online or in writing magazines. And get back to work. Don’t be afraid to write some really bad pages—it happens! At least you’re writing.

5. Happy authors don’t refuse to study the craft of writing.

The best writers are always learning and consciously improving. You can take classes or writing workshops. How about participating in a critique group? You can read books about writing. Perhaps the most valuable yet under-utilized way to learn is to do your own in-depth analysis of a favorite writer’s prose so you can understand why it works. Never stop studying your craft.

6. Happy authors don’t believe everything their friends tell them.

Gossip about publishing flies fast and furious out there. Check your sources. Get multiple opinions. Understand that everyone is biased. Ask a lot of questions and stay well-informed.

7. Happy authors don’t think the publishing industry is a vast conspiracy designed to keep them out.

This frame of mind is a recipe for bitterness. It’s not true—no one’s goal is to keep you out. But if you hold this view, you probably don’t believe me anyway!

8. Happy authors don’t expect that being published will be completely life-changing.

Fulfilling a big dream is a wonderful milestone, and it’s possible that some areas of your life will be different.  Reaching that goal will feel GREAT. But you’ll still be the same person. Your friends and family probably won’t like or respect you more. And you’ll still always get into the slowest line at the supermarket.

9. Happy authors don’t complain about how hard it is to be a writer.

When you’re tempted to whine, think about the really hard jobs. Oil rig workers. Dairy farmers. Parents. Then count your blessings and write some words.

10. Happy authors don’t allow themselves to be derailed by rejection and disappointment.

Every worthwhile pursuit will have setbacks. Contentment (not to mention success) depends on the ability to bounce back.

11. Happy authors don’t spend too much time in comparison.

You already know how toxic it is to compare yourself to other writers. Your journey is your own. You’ll always be able to find people better than you, and people worse than you, so what’s the point? Comparison is the best way to take the joy out of your journey.

What makes you a “happy” author?

Rachelle Gardner is an agent with Books & Such Literary, looking for authors with long-term publishing potential. She represents Christian fiction and non-fiction, with a particular fondness for strong spiritual memoirs and books that address contemporary issues in Christianity.

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