Not a day goes by when I don’t have someone come up to me in the street and say that they want to write a book. I always go out of my way to really encourage them to do it.
Writing has changed my life in so many ways. Now I have a real desire to help anyone who shares the dream to succeed in the publishing world. Over the years I have done lots of different things, from commercial diving to selling encyclopaedias door-to-door. Add this to an unusual early life growing up as an orphan in Western Australia and I guess I have an interesting story.
My writing has always focused around sharing my own personal experiences and I think this is a real key to being a successful writer. In other words, write about what you know.
Whilst I write non-fiction I think the characteristics that will make an author successful apply equally to all genres.
Live and breathe passion
You need to be passionate about what you are writing. If you’re not, it shows. Have a look on the shelves of any bookshop and you can see the sheer volume of books, all written by someone who had a passion for the subject and published by publishers who believed that enough people would share the passion and want to buy the book.
You need to be disciplined and ready for the solitary life of a writer. This means working to deadlines and spending a lot of time in front of the computer.
Unfortunately books don’t write themselves. When I realised that I really loved writing and it was a career that I wanted to pursue I decided that I needed to teach myself to type (it takes a really long time to write a book of 100,000 words with one finger). So I started writing in the dark, teaching myself to touch type, to the point where today I am a really fast and accurate typist.
Shout about your book
If you plan on making a living out of writing you need to shout about it from the roof tops. If no one knows about your book, it is unlikely to sell. Every year almost 11,000 new books are published in Australia alone so the marketing and promotion of your book is vitally important. In other words you need to eat, sleep and become a little obsessed with telling the world about your book and why they should buy it.
Think about the future
Have your next book in mind when you write your current book. If you look at the most successful authors they tend to write a series. Think Stephanie Meyer and Twilight, JK Rowling and the Harry Potter series. Even my 101 series of business building books started with a series in mind. Publishers don’t want one hit wonders, they want an author who can develop a following and have a series of commercially successful books.
Last but not least, we need to be realistic about what we will get out of writing from a financial point of view. Very few writers can make a full time living from writing alone, especially with books. But if your book is successful, you can certainly earn some excellent supplementary income that keeps rolling in for years. I am still earning royalties from books that I wrote ten years ago and there seems to be no sign of this stopping.
Appreciate the journey
The real value can come from the credibility that writing gives you. Today I spend a lot of time and make the majority of my income from presenting at conferences around the world. This is the result of my writing success. Many writers go on to have highly successful blogs, freelance writing careers, products like DVD sets and seminars. All of which are possible as a result of their writing success.
All in all, being an author is a great life. The more you write the better you get and there is nothing better than boarding a plane and seeing someone reading one of your books. Like any dream, it may take some hard work to get there, but believe in yourself, don’t listen to the people who tell you what you can’t do and just go for it.