By: Karen Rowe
1.1According to the book The Millionaire Next Door there are approximately 3 percent of households in the United States with net worth in excess of $1,000,000. And that net worth is accompanied by a minimum annual income just over $135,000 per year, with an average income of $260,000. That would place them in the top 3 percent of all American households.

Authors like J.K. Rowling, Dean Koontz and Stephen King represent less than 1% of the author population, and have book sales in excess of $300 Million.

So what’s the difference between them and you?

They set clear, definable goals: The big difference is that the 3 percent group have prepared written goals with specific plans for reaching those goals. Not very many people are willing to do that.

So the best way to become a successful author is to start by creating some goals for your book. Ideally you want to create a list, five or ten goals at the least, that you wish to attain by publishing your book. You also want to create goals surrounding your marketing: How many bloggers do you want to reach? How many events do you want to do? Who are you going to connect with to help you promote your book, etc. A gentle reminder: Book sales should be at the bottom of your list. Right before ‘Get Rich and Famous.’ See my post, ‘7 Biggest Lies Writers Tell Themselves About Their Books’ for more on this. You won’t get sales without exposure. The standard in marketing is that people need seven impressions to your book, message, or product before they will consider buying. Your goals should be aligned with that focus: getting as many impressions or pieces of exposure as you can. It’s not a matter of ‘what one thing will I do to get 100 people to buy my book’, but ‘what hundred things can I do to get one person to buy my book?’ Get enough exposure and book sales will follow.

They stay focused: Focus is what separates the successful author from the one who flounders and does not complete or ever publish a book.

Authors are creative and as such, we have no shortage of ideas, we love to start new projects …Squirrel!… jot down ideas on scraps of paper … and then what? Onto another bright, shiny object. I have dozens – if not hundreds—of half-started blog posts or book ideas which I’m only just now starting to do something with. (See my article on Idea Hoarding for more suggestions on what to do with these.) But many authors suck at systems, schedules, time management, discipline, and most of us are lousy as self-promotion. So we get distracted, and have a hard time with follow- through and completion. If you have to work with someone to stay focused it could be the best money you spend –ever. Which brings me to the following point.

They know what they’re good at, and what they suck at: Successful authors build a strong team to help them with what’s not working.

This has been a tough one for me. I am a starter, a big picture thinker. What I’m not is a detail-oriented person or a “finisher.” This is not good or bad; it’s what’s so. This means I’m a really great at conceptualizing. I can carry the vision for my clients’ books, help them get clear about what they want and create a plan. I’m also a strong substantive, or content,editor – the part where I get to sink my teeth into the ideas, the flow, the overall message and tone for the book and offer critical feedback.

And I’ve learned to hire a team of people around me who are detail-oriented finishers for the rest. You know these people, they are the organizers, it comes naturally to them, and they love it. They are my proofreaders and copyeditors, and executive assistants and my director of operations; these are the people I surrounded myself with.

You need people around you who are good at what they do and who know what they’re doing because they have value and expertise that you don’t. Respect their work and respect their time.

They welcome and encourage feedback: Authors who are willing to listen and learn and get valuable input to make their work better are often more successful than authors who refuse to listen to the advice of professionals who have been in the industry forever.

Authors become emotionally attached to their work, or their cover art, or an idea that simply doesn’t work is standing in the way of their own success. Surround yourself with people who aren’t afraid to tell you the truth, who may tell you something you don’t want to hear. This will help you more than any ego-stroking in the world. The market will tell you in no uncertain terms whether or not your work is good. You might as well hear it while there is still time to improve it.

Can I guarantee that you’ll be the next Stephen King? Of course not, but these tips will get you further ahead than whatever it is you’ve been doing up until now. Understanding the basic principles of the book business will help you be more successful. Not only that, but using a solid model for business will put you light years ahead of most of the other authors out there, and with 300,000 books published a year, you need a strong model in order to succeed.

So, ready to achieve success with your writing? Coming soon: Surefire Ways To Succeed in Writing.