by Nina Amir
You can find lots of articles and guides on how to write and self-publish a book. Beyond the advice on promoting your book, including so-called bestseller campaigns, you’ll find less information on how to succeed as a self-published author.
Here’s the truth of the matter: Achieving the status of “successful self-published author,” no matter how you publish, comes down to attitude. In fact, the majority of successful people in any industry will tell you their attitude helped them achieve their goals.
You Need an Author Attitude
If you want to become a successful self-published author, you need to choose an attitude that helps you achieve that state of being. You have to respond to your book idea and to all situations related to it with a successful self-published author’s mind-set, or what I call an Author Attitude.
Author Attitude consists of four primary characteristics. I have arranged them into an acronym that spells a word that recently has come into common culture: Woot!
You may possess one or more of these characteristics, or you may not possess any of them at all. You may need to strengthen one or more, even though you possess them. Know, that like attitude, each characteristic reflects a choice you can make, and you can learn each characteristic if you feel you don’t possess it yet. Indeed, you can make the choice to learn it or adopt it into your way of being in the world.
Let’s look at each characteristic needed to successfully self-publish your book more closely. (These descriptions have been adapted from The Author Training Manual.)
To become a successful self-published author you need a general willingness to change and grow. Your old attitudes, actions, behaviors, thoughts, decisions, beliefs, and habits have only gotten you this far. They helped you achieve your current results.
If you want a new level of success as a writer, something has to change. For that to happen, first and foremost, you need to be willing to change.
Every one of the following characteristics require that you have some degree of willingness to explore, do, learn, evaluate, try something that may be new or different, or do something you know how to do already but in a different way.
Additionally, you must be willing to change your book idea. The actual story, characters, subject, angle, theme, purpose, audience, or any number of other aspects of your project might need to be altered to make it viable in the marketplace.
This may be difficult to swallow at first, but successful authorship relies on your ability to evaluate the marketability of your idea from every angle possible and to make the tough calls. Only when you have discovered that you have created a salable idea can you turn to writing the book.
When you have completed the manuscript, you must be willing to receive feedback on how your writing and manuscript can be improved to make it successful and to make those changes.
Whether you call it faith, positive thinking, reverse pessimism, Positive Psychology, or learned optimism, to become a successful self-published author you must be willing to see everything that happens to you as pushing you closer to your goal of successful authorship.
This means a negative review of your manuscript by a book doctor at a conference presents a chance to rethink your plot or your content—or even to hone your craft. A session with a marketing expert who tells you your platform needs strengthening offers the opportunity to rethink your pre-promotion activity level.
In a report published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, Michael F. Scheier, a psychologist at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, wrote that optimists tend to respond to disappointments, such as poor book sales, by formulating a plan of action and asking other people for help and advice. On the other hand, pessimists more often react to the same disappointing event by trying to ignore it or assuming they can do nothing to change their results.
In a similar study, Martin Seligman, a psychologist at the University of Pennsylvania, found that pessimists tend to construe bad events, such as bad reviews, as the result of personal deficits that will plague them forever in every aspect of their personal and professional lives.
Optimists see the same events as caused by mistakes they can remedy by making changes, once they discover what changes are necessary. You will have many reasons for optimism in your career as a self-published author, and this optimistic attitude will help you achieve more positive results.
To become a successful self-published author you need to see yourself and your work objectively, from a different perspective than your own. Specifically, you need to see through the lens used by publishing professionals, such as literary agents and acquisitions editors even though you don’t plan to take the traditional publishing route. Both of these publishing professionals view your book idea not only as a creative project but also as a business proposition.
They view you as a potential business partner. As an indie author, you must learn to stand back and evaluate yourself and your work objectively from a publishing business perspective. Doing so becomes even more important if you plan to independently publish since you become the publisher of your own work.
You also must distance yourself from your idea. You must detach from it so you are willing to receive, hear, and act upon criticism—and so you can learn to evaluate your idea and offer constructive criticism of your own.
Ultimately, you must see your project from the perspective of the consumer, as well. Only when you do this can you pinpoint why they might pick up your book, carry it to the register and purchase it, and then tell their friends they must read it, too. That’s when you and your book become successful.
To become a self-published author, you have to be willing to do whatever it takes for however long it takes to reach your goal. Determination, persistence, and perseverance—whatever you want to call this quality—carry you though to successful authorship, whether you are rewriting your manuscript, building author platform, contacting the one thousandth reviewer, or writing the fiftieth blog post or press release about your book.
You must have passion for your project and feel a sense of purpose. Every day you must show up eager to move forward, even if it is only by one small step or in spite of the challenges that have presented themselves.
The Final Element of Author Attitude
The final element of Author Attitude is not included in WOOT. However, it is essential to your success as an indie author. You must have an entrepreneurial spirit.
As an indie author, you create a start-up publishing company and become the publisher of that company. Therefore, you need to have both a business mindset and business savvy. You need a business attitude—about writing and publishing your book or books.
That’s why you want to have a business plan for your book before you even write a word of your manuscript. (Read this previous post to find out more about what goes into your book’s plan.) Your book is the product you will bring to market. Approach your book, and your publishing company, like you would any other start-up business.
Couple these five qualities with your knowledge of how to write and self-publish a book and your likelihood of success is high!
Tell me about how attitude has helped you achieve success as an author or in some other area of your life.