Monday, January 17, 2022

Three Steps to Becoming a Successful Author


Really? Can it be that simple? Only three steps?

Seekervillagers aren’t that gullible! You know that becoming a successful author is a long, laborious process.

But these three steps are key to getting you to where you want to go.

First, be teachable.

Being teachable means that you are willing to learn...even if that learning comes after an ouch of a critique, or you feel like your toes have been stepped on.

Being teachable means that you are willing to open your eyes to a new way of looking at things.

Being teachable means that you ask for advice, then consider that advice, and follow it if it's valuable.

Being teachable means being willing to change your opinion. And I know how hard that can be!

An example? I'm in the process of developing covers for my soon-to-be released cozy mystery series (and my first venture into Indy publishing!) I designed a few covers that I liked. In fact, I liked them a lot. I ran them past a few people that I could trust to be honest with me, asking for feedback.

I got the feedback! Especially from my daughter. My other friends (thank you Seekerville ladies!) were polite and they gave some useful suggestions. My daughter didn't worry about being polite. She told me point-blank what she thought. (Both approaches are needed and appreciated!)

I took all the suggestions - the polite ones as well as the not-so-polite - and went back to the drawing board. And I LOVE the result. It's much better than my first fifteen or so versions!

I'm so glad I remained teachable throughout this process, and I'm pleased with the final (or nearly final) version of my cover. You'll have to wait a couple months for the official cover reveal, but here's the series logo to give you a taste:

Second, be gracious.

Being gracious means promoting other authors as often as you can.

Being gracious means NOT responding to that unfair and wicked negative review, no matter how much you want to.

Being gracious means meeting deadlines and responding to your business emails in a timely fashion.

Being gracious means extending grace to others in all circumstances.

This is one of those things I'm constantly working on in myself. I don't think any of us are naturally gracious (although Debby comes close!) and learning to be gracious is harder to learn for some of us than for others.

Graciousness is a close cousin of humility. It's easier to be gracious when we're humble.

Third, be an active learner.

Being an active learner means that you seek out places to learn your craft - and Seekerville is a good place to start.

Being an active learner means that if there is a skill set you don't have, you learn it. (Although at times what you learn is when you need to hire someone else to do that particular skill!)

Being an active learner means that you don't rely on others to spoon-feed you. There are basic skills an author has to have - negotiating the internet, knowing how to use Word, knowing how to write a synopsis/blurb/back cover copy/etc. Learn those things for yourself. Don't rely on someone else to do them for you. 

Being an active learner means that you are constantly learning. You're reading new releases in your writing genre. You're researching details for your next WIP. You're reading a craft book that an author you respect has recommended. You're reading blog posts by agents and publishers. You're listening to podcasts on every subject from how to structure a story to how to build your website.

Something else being an active learner does for you is to keep your mind young and your life engaged. Studies have shown that learning something new is the best way to keep the synapses in your brain active and pliable, so keep learning! 

This short list is just a beginning. There is much more to being a successful author than what I've mentioned here, but it is a start. And if you keep these things in mind, you're on your way!

What do you think? Are there steps that you would add to move us along the path to success?

And be sure to come by Seekerville on Wednesday to catch Debby Giusti's list for a successful author - the two of us were thinking along the same lines this week!

One more thing! The re-release of A Home for His Family is coming next week! Click on the picture above to preorder from Amazon, or head over to my website for ordering links: 


  1. Wait.
    Debby beat me out for the Gracious Author Award????



    But I nail the active learner part because not only do I avidly search out ways to learn and do things, I love it.... I'm just a jerk while doing it!!!!

    And I should never say I told you so to anyone, but clearly I have much to learn in the gracious category.

    Jan, great post, and I agree with these three precepts.

    I said that just so I could use the word "precepts" and sound smart.

    Now I'm going back to mystery WIP and then must study for a meeting tomorrow.... but more mystery first.

    This is my version of a SNOW DAY!!!!!

    Oh, yeah!

    1. Good morning, Ruthy!

      You are most certainly gracious! (In an Upstate Yankee kind of way!)

      And you definitely nail the active learner part - you're studying for a meeting tomorrow. If that isn't being an active learner, I don't know what is!

      Happy "snow day!" I'm the same way - these holiday Mondays off are when I get my best work done. :-)

    2. Yes!

      We Yankees have our charms.... Kind of.

      And I'm okay with Debby taking the gracious award.... it is, of course, true.


  2. Great list, Jan. I think being teachable has been the hardest one of those for me over my life. It hits me in the ego when I have to ask for help or admit that I didn't do something perfectly on the first try. It is such a sign of maturity, I think, when we can put ourselves aside and ask for help. I love helping others and by not asking for that, we deprive people of sharing their gifts. Another great post, Jan. Thank you!

    1. Great points, Glynis. I would LIKE to think I know everything I need to know and that I have all the answers...but then I would be lying to myself.
      And you're so right about stepping back when needed so others can share their gifts. We are all so much better off when we do!

  3. Great post, Jan. I am really looking forward to your cozy mystery.

    1. Thank you, Sandy! I'm excited about sharing it!

  4. Jan, Those are three excellent points! Teachable, gracious, and active learner - I can be more of these!


    1. I need to be more of these, too!

      Have a great day, Edwina!

  5. Jan, this is good information and something even experienced writers need to be reminded of. I'm constantly doing homework on "gracious." Earlier this week I was bit by the jealousy bug, and I had to stop, take a deep breath and reverse my course. It doesn't get any easier when you're published, you just have a body of work to look back on and remind yourself that yes, you can do this, but in the way God wants for you. It does get better. Like Woody Allen said, "Now that I'm successful, I'm being rejected by a better class of women."
    Good for you for going indy. "Oh brave new world that has such people in it." Miranda in "The Tempest."
    I got my pub date for "Redemption's Hope," the third and final book in the Western Dreams series. I am so pleased. July 22, 2022. So now it's crunch time for prewritten blogs, nurturing my launch team, and planning blog tours. All good problems to have.
    May be back later,
    Making it all work in New Hampshire

    1. Those are all excellent problems to have, Kaybee! Or should I say blessings rather than problems? Because when an author is the kind of busy you are, then it's definitely a blessing!

  6. Jan, these are all excellent points. And I need to work on all of them! ;)

    1. You and me both!

      I'm working on being an active learner today... :-)

  7. Sage advice! And so very true. All three are necessary to a career as a writer, not just landing that first contract.

    1. As I was facing some challenging changes at Bible Study this week, I realized that these three points are applicable to all facets of our lives!

  8. Thanks Jan for this post. It's a great reminder to remain teachable - even when the criticism appears harsh. There's always a nugget of truth to take away.

    1. I've found that to be true, too. There's always something to learn!

  9. Thank You Jan for your wonderful Post I always enjoy them all!


If you have trouble leaving a comment, please "clear your internet cache" and try again. You can find this in your browser settings under "clear history."