5 Traits of the Successful Author

The gateway to your destiny lies within.
(Image courtesy of Maddelena on WANA Commons)

I am off to THRILLERFEST in NYC, and I’m sure it will be thrilling….bada bump *snare*. Today, I want to talk about some fundamentals. We can have all the talent in the world, but without these five ingredients, we will be hard-pressed to ever reach our dreams.


This should be a, “Yeah, no duh,” but, sadly, it isn’t. I meet a lot of people who say they want to be a professional author, but the second they face any opposition or criticism they give up. Here’s the thing:

If we truly LOVE it, we won’t give up.

One of my favorite stories is about a music master who traveled village to village in search of proteges to train. A young boy who played the violin practiced extra hard in anticipation of being chosen. On the given day, he played for the master and, at the end, the master said, “No, you don’t love music enough.” Heartbroken, the boy ran home.

A year later, the same master came to the village and spotted the boy. The master asked if he was going to audition. The boy crossed his arms and replied, “No. Your comment hurt me to the core. I put the violin away and haven’t touched it since.” To which the master replied, “I told you you didn’t love music enough.”

If we love writing, NOTHING can stop us. My motto in regards to writing comes from Hannibal:

Aut viam inveniam aut facial. 

I will either find a way or I will make one.


Again, writers write. One of the main reasons I am such a proponent of blogging is that it trains writers for a professional pace. It trains us to meet deadlines. Disciplined people work no matter what, and they finish what they start. Amateurs and the immature flit from thing to thing. Professionals and genuine artists dig in and complete the task.

Will all of us have this self-discipline in the beginning? No. Most of us don’t. Self-discipline is a muscle of character, and it needs to be trained and built just like biceps. Every time we stick to something when the siren’s song of a new shiny tempts us to start something new, we get stronger.


Great writers know they always have more to learn. Read, find mentors, and learn to admit shortcomings. None of us are perfect. We all have strengths and weaknesses. Those who readily admit flaws and seek help and training? We stand far better chances of succeeding long-term.

I used to have a problem with deadlines and self-discipline. I had the attention span of a crack-addicted fruit bat. That was why I began blogging. I knew that those character flaws would always limit me. Even though it was embarrassing to admit I had some deep flaws, it would have been impossible to ever combat that weakness if I hadn’t mustered the courage and humility to recognize where I fell fatally short.

It is okay to be imperfect. It is okay to be new. It is okay to not know everything. When we are humble enough to admit we need help, that is the first step toward authentic growth and change.

Healthy Relationship with Failure

I have said this many times, If we aren’t failing, then we aren’t doing anything interesting. Expect failure. Better yet, embrace failure.

We will learn far more from failure than success. The trick is to learn. What went wrong? How can we do it better? What ingredient is missing?


One of my favorite quotes is, “Persistence prevails when all else fails.” We must have bulldog tenacity to do anything remarkable. Anyone can start something. We have feelings and other people cheering us on. It’s when the new wears off and the dream looks more like work that most of us fall short. Hey, I’ve been there. This last leg of trying to get out my new book before Thrillerfest (my own self-imposed deadline)? I thought it would kill me. It’s so easy to be just in reach of the finish line and tap out.

DON’T. Keep pressing.

What are some character traits that you might add? What do you struggle with? What area gives you the most trouble? What have you done to make it better? What is some advice you would like to share?

I love hearing from you!

To prove it and show my love, for the month of July, everyone who leaves a comment I will put your name in a hat. If you comment and link back to my blog on your blog, you get your name in the hat twice. What do you win? The unvarnished truth from yours truly. I will pick a winner once a month and it will be a critique of the first 20 pages of your novelor your query letter, or your synopsis (5 pages or less).

NOTE: My prior two books are no longer for sale, but I am updating them and will re-release. My new book, Rise of the Machines–Human Authors in a Digital World is NOW AVAILABLE.

At the end of July I will pick a winner for the monthly prize. Good luck!


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  1. Pardon me but, really, a part of me tells I should reblog this. This’ll keep me going. Thanks!

    1. Reblog away. This content is for you guys. I am still learning and applying all this stuff, too :D. Never ends.

      1. Thanks a lot! Hoping to find and grab one of your books. Let me be your diligent follower. 🙂

      2. I was going to ask you if I could do this, too. Thanks for your advice, Kristen. You hit the nail on the head! I bought your book on my friend’s advice and I can’t wait to read it.

        1. YOU ROCK…not just cuz you bought my book but it does make you a little extra awesome 😀 THANKS!

    2. Ditto for me! What a great, great post!!!

  2. Love the story of the maestro. Hope you have a positively thrilling trip!

  3. Reblogged this on feelgoodeverydamnday and commented:
    This Will Keep Me Going!

  4. Hey ..did you mean —-Accept failure? 🙂 yeah its where I live mostly lol

    1. Accept AND expect. If you aren’t failing ur not doing anything remarkable. You aren’t a failure; ur remarkable!

      1. Part of being a writer is accepting our own try/fail cycles!

      2. 🙂

  5. I’m still working on the self-discipline part (and you’re right–regular blogging helps), and sometimes self-doubt gets in the way of persistence. It’s tough to keep going when you think you’re writing dreck, but fortunately those spells don’t last long. Hope you have a fantastic time at Thrillerfest!

  6. It is so true that you have to love your craft enough. Someone told me he did not think my memoir would sell. Now I am going to prove him wrong.

  7. The self-discipline piece is central. I can’t play be an incredible piano player unless I practice, right? I think that’s where the self-discipline is key. Practice. I started a 100 Essays in 100 days project eleven days ago. It’s making me sweat but I already feel a change for the better in my writing. BTW, whenever I see your blog post, I stop my scrolling around and sit down and read – so valuable.

  8. I agree with all of the above. I also have the crack addict fruit bat attention span. Problem is I have too many interests. I also never know what I should blog about. You told us not to blog about writing and although your arguments made perfect sense, I found myself without a topic to write about. My blog was going to be about writing, now what? I have to be honest, I’m a bit discouraged…

    1. Buy my new book. I will put your fruit bat brain to great work ;). You’ll realize it’s an asset in blogging because the world is your muse.

  9. I love the maestro story! So many people say they want to be a writer, but fall short when they realize how much work it is. It really is a labor of love. I’m going to re-post this on my website. Such a great article!

    Have a safe trip!

  10. Very true post. You cant be helter skelter and get anywhere 😉 Thanks for sharing!

  11. “Amateurs and the immature flit from thing to thing.”
    Zing. Right to my core. Thanks. Will mull on this all day today.

  12. All good advice.

    I’d add — be a little ruthless. Not unkind or unethical, but get really, really clear about what it is you are trying to accomplish, communicate and to whom. If you just “want to be a writer”…meh. Millions of people “write.” Some get published. Few are read and remembered for true excellence.

    Also…have a clear(er) idea what your trajectory will look like. How many books do you want to write and within what time frame? Don’t get dazzled by the “I’m an author” thing…I’ve seen so many one-hit wonders. Yes, it’s hard every damn time!

    Finding a decent agent is key, and hard as hell. Just like dating. They’re all really good at a few things, but rarely everything you hope and dream. They’re a hired hand. Don’t mythologize them or you won’t manage them well.

    1. I love that: ruthless. Yeah. Stephen King is ruthless in his book “On Writing” Kristen is ruthless. Being a little ruthless with yourself means that you’ll be a straight shooter with yourself and others about what’s wrong and how to fix it. Hiding is the worst when revising a body of work.

  13. Everything you say here is spot on. The waiting, the rejections, the bad reviews can derail you, but don’t let them. Keep writing. Can’t believe I have to learn this over and over, but writing always makes me feel better.

    • Paige on July 9, 2013 at 8:31 am
    • Reply

    Great quotes and advice. I’m learning to embrace failure. Not an easy hug to take. And I love that you made your self-imposed deadline. You live what you preach. Looking forward to the thrillerfest update.

  14. Packs a good punch! Embracing failure is so important, it saddens me that this is not what gets taught in traditional schools. The music master would have never met that same boy had the boy been encouraged to fail. The master missed his opportunity to teach the first time, too.

  15. You continue to creep me out Kristen! I think you must be watching me through the camera on my laptop. I am very passionate about writing. it is why i am still doing it three decades from my start. I have never been as focused and driven to make a splash like I am right now and that speaks of your reference to maturity as a writer.

    My self-discipline has been tested this Spring and now into Summer as I have devoted my writing time to revising a manuscript so i can shop it around this fall. I have an idea for a YA trilogy that I feel is going to be gangbusters and it is hard not to drop the first to write the second. Of course my blogging is another thing I try to work on every day to build my brand as well as my daily writing habit.

    I know I have so much to learn. Humility is something very important to me as i know i am just one person and need to always search for more knowledge. That is the biggest reason i search for your blog every day. i cannot remember ever reading and not coming away with some positive words or tips to improve my writing or habits. Thanks for giving back.

    Failure and I have a hate hate relationship. Objectively i know everything I submit won;t be a winner. If it did it would make me wonder how good the competition is, but at the same time repeatedly hearing “NO” chips away at the confidence. I know the first “YES” will be all the sweeter and I just have to keep plugging along.

    I hope you have a grand time!

  16. Excellent advice! I need to start embracing failure instead of wasting valuable time and energy trying to avoid it.

    Have a thrilling time in NYC!

  17. What a great post. I know I’ve matured greatly since I went back to writing in 2006. And now since starting my blog, its become more of a routine. A good routine that has me really focusing on my dream.

    • Rachel Thompson on July 9, 2013 at 8:59 am
    • Reply

    I have the aforementioned traits and more. I’ve be productive, dedicated. My current problem is existential crises. I don’t see how anything matters- I don’ care about money and success for it’s own sake, it strikes me as shallow. So how do you fix that? The better I understand the reality of the world and humanity due my insatiable curiosity, the more I see nothing matters. When my waning curiosity runs it’s course there will be nothing left. I see why Hemingway blew his brains out.

    • El on July 9, 2013 at 9:04 am
    • Reply

    I’ve found for myself that consistency really helps. For me that means treating writing like a job 6 days a week. So, after the kids are in bed every night I head to my computer and write a minimum of 1000 words. Over time what’s happened is that with the habit of writing every day the words come easier, I look forward to getting back to it, and I end up smashing my goal of 1000 words.

    So, that is my advice….treat it like a job until you are successful enough that it is your full time job! 🙂

  18. Hi Kristen! I just stumbled upon your blog from Hare’s Tale (http://langleyblog.wordpress.com/) I loved that you mentioned Healthy Relationship with Failure! The point with this is not to be too hard on oneself, and not to take things too personal.

    Reviews can seem like failure, but I remind myself all the time that people have different tastes and so what’s great for one person may not be so likable to another! Plus look at all those great movies I’ve liked that critics gave horrible reviews to!

    Still, failure can definitely lead to bigger success if taken the right way (see the positive in the situation), accessed (read carefully to access for sincere truths), and used effectively (make NECESSARY adjustments/changes moving forward).

    1. So fabulous to meet you!

  19. I have a phone meeting with a publisher tomorrow and I’m scared out of my pants. There was a part of me that thought that I would never be published and now that it’s a possibility I fear the idea of being so exposed – to have other people read what I’ve written. Does this sound crazy? Anyways, I really appreciate reading your posts and thanks so much for this one which is especially relevant for me right now.

    1. Charla-
      Every maestro is nervous before they take the stage. Congratulations on getting your foot in the proverbial publishing door.

  20. The thing I have the most trouble with is Self-discipline. But what helps is Humility. When I can’t seem to get motivated, I pick up a craft book, or read a craft blog. That ususally helps to get my butt in gear. 😀

    1. Thanks Sharon!

  21. Is a sense of humor a trait or a treat?

    • Larry Hansen on July 9, 2013 at 10:03 am
    • Reply

    I just discovered your book “We are not alone” and I FINALLY found someone who provide clear and practical advice about the use of social media for anyone. Yours is the best social media book on the planet. No doubt!!! When is your next social media book coming out? Also, do you have a blog devoted to only social media?

  22. All of the above are essential. Too bad I’m not fond of failure (even though Edison had hundreds of attempts before shedding light on the world) and have a hard time putting my neck out there.
    I’m getting more courageous, though, in part because I’m devouring craft books (but doing homework on my WIP with each chapter) and realizing there is more I don’t know than I do. So humility is a daily feast.
    I would add selective hearing as an important trait for success. When we listen to the wrong voices, we get discouraged from our passion and waver in our self-discipline.
    Thanks for accentuating the positive while keeping a realistic view of the writing world.

  23. Have you been reading my diary? Seriously, how can you read minds with such apple-splitting accuracy?

    Failure and I are BFF. That’s not where my issues are. Self-discipline eludes me like a snow leopard, though. I also suffer from Shiny Object Syndrome that tends to…hey, look! A cookie!

  24. My biggest problem is guilt. Now that I’ve retired from being a lawyer family and friends think I’m constantly available. It’s difficult to ward them off because they generally “need” my help. I’m not hard hearted enough.

    • Jennifer Rose on July 9, 2013 at 10:31 am
    • Reply

    Though I haven’t gotten to this stage yet, I am fully prepared to get a multitude of rejections! I like to remind myself that many iconic authors received a lot of rejections, including Stephen King. Also, even if you are a Newberry award winning author, a publisher can still turn down your novel. I think rejection (and praise) just has to be accepted as part of the job, and not applied in any way to your ego.

  25. I love today’s post. Thank you. Recently I was rejected for a writing project and it stung. so I made an appointment with sulking and ice cream and worked to let it pass. Today I will be writing my 100’th blog post and will be adding this as a link back as well as another because persistence and determination in writing are key to success. Thanks for the post. Have a great time at thrill fest.

  26. Persistence: I know plenty of writers who are more talented than I am…but none of them are published because they’re not as persistent. 🙂

  27. Thanks for sharing this, especially today! I have been blogging for over a year, and I truly am passionate about writing. My goal is to be able to write professionally. I have the five traits you described, now, I just need to figure out what other steps I need to take to make this dream of mine a reality. I know that I can do this!

  28. Thanks for your insights and advise. And for mentioning the Hannibal quote. It’ empowering.

  29. Yay! I can do this. I am energized to persevere once again. Thanks, Kristen.

  30. Another one I may add, learn to make sacrifices. People often think writers can pick up a pen any time of the day and write to their hearts content. As a writer I can fluctuate between how motivated I can be to write, and when I’m in that zone nothing matters, because I don’t know how long I can ride it for. Unless it’s of dire importance I’ll ignore my friends for activities so I can write as much as I want.

  31. Great reminder of the difference between the amateur and the pro. Passed on the link to this on my Christian Writers Page blog.

    • Lalo on July 9, 2013 at 11:35 am
    • Reply

    I have enjoyed your blog posts so much that I just bought your book. I’m a new author, soaking up everything I can get my hands on. You present information very well.

  32. Love this. As usual, you nailed it. 🙂

  33. Reblogged this on Jessi Gage…A Time to Love and commented:
    Author advocate extraordinaire Kristen Lamb

  34. I am so amazed by your focus and your ability to juggle everything you have going on and still manage to blog 5-7 times a week. I want to be you when I grow up. And thanks for the reminders about what it takes to be successful!!!

  35. Adaptation.
    The more I learn about this writing gig, the more diverse my education seems. Not only are we supposed to strive for mastership of the written word, but we are supposed to be social media aficionados and time management wizards.We need to be able to adapt our marketing strategies to include ever changing technological nuances (what? Facebook changed their look again?!). We’ve got to be able to roll with the digital punches, take a deep breath and go, okay, I will take a few hours to learn this. Because if we don’t, we will fall behind no matter how brilliant our writing is.

  36. Thanks Kristin, I choose to believe nothing in life is a failure as long as you learn from it, the most successful of lessons are the ones you remember the best, and the hardest are the ones you repeat the most. I will never stop learning, and when I read that you too are learning as well as sharing it made me relax just a little more. 🙂

  37. The one thing I struggle with is when I sit down to write I get distracted by so many other things in my mind and on my computer! Great article and thanks for all the great advice.

  38. <3 this post and will share on my weekly blog review. Thanks, Kristen! 😉

  39. I’d say another trait for a successful author is patience. Whether you’re publishing traditionally or indie, it takes time to get stuff done right. You have to be willing to wait on other people to do their jobs and not be in a hurry just to get your book out there.

  40. Reblogged this on Echoshadow.

  41. One thing I love about your posts is how encouraging but no-nonsense they are. The self-discipline section of this post really spoke to me because I have a bad habit (my ADHD, maybe) of flitting from one project to another, and I tend not to reach my self-imposed deadlines. Thanks for the slap upside the head!

  42. I want to go but I cannot. Action Suspense Thrillers would be the genre I most prefer in writing. A thrill-a-age is the suggestion that is still an “if I could”. Can you eat the street vendor’s hot dogs? I would have to add yellow mustard with extra onions, for my childhood allergic asthma.

    1. A THRILL-A-PAGE, the backspace removed the p when I decided to add the “-” and I did not catch it before Post Comment. HAVE FUN.

  43. Good info, Kristen. I didn’t know my main mode of life was a quote from Hannibal :>)

  44. LOVE this post, Kristen! Such true points! I like that you included humility and perseverance. Those are two biggies for me. I always think everyone has a story and I can learn from them. And if you’re going to keep going, even when the odds may be against you, you need that perseverance. Thank you for writing a blog that repeatedly sparks up perseverance in so many writers!!! I can’t say thank you enough!

    • malindalou on July 9, 2013 at 7:57 pm
    • Reply

    I agree on the failure thing! If you’re not failing, you’re boring and not learning anything.

  45. Okay, so I am hoping you’re okay with me re-blogging this. I know so many people who say… “Oh I’m writing a story.” but the next time I see them and I ask… they are like “Oh… I haven’t done anything.”


    Yes, perseverance and persistence are important and so is a thick skin. Unfortunately not everything we write and is published can be a best seller or critically acclaimed. Sometimes we need to remember these facts.

    Thanks for reminding me.

  46. Thank you for the wisdom.

    I started this blog with the goal to make people laugh at least once every Wednesday. It’s not that hard given that funny things keep happening to me. If you read this post, I hope it makes you laugh, too. If it does, read the story after it. Every word of it is true.


    How does one get a mentor?

  47. Thanks, Kristen, such good points! Just love your blog 🙂

  48. Thank you for this post. Such wonderful reminders and motivational also. I struggle with switching gears between busy family life and my writing time. Discipline needs to be moved to the top of my list!

  49. Okay, I have a different character trait that blocks me–I write obsessively, always have, always will. I’ve taken classes, etc. I have quite a few completed novels. So I guess what blocks me, isn’t the writing, I’ll always do that, its getting exposure for what I write. I could spend my life writing, I just don’t know how to go public, or if its good enough to go public with. Some people say its good, but then, how do you really find out? Certainly not through agents, most don’t even acknowledge queries. So if you let a few people read your stuff and they like it, how can you be certain? What’s the difference between being a good writer and just wanting to write something? I see people discouraged when they just started writing and I don’t understand it. I would never get discouraged over writing, but I could get discouraged over being published. Even if you love writing, how do you know if you’re any good? And even if you were good, does it mean anyone else wants to read it?

  50. Very good post indeed…patience and perserverance we definitely must have both!

    • Giovanna Lee on July 10, 2013 at 1:19 am
    • Reply

    Thanks Kristen. What a great post. I needed to read that, especially now.

  51. Man, does this sound familiar. My writing friends have renamed me – Squirrel. Yep, same horrid affliction. I have the attention span of a gnat. I’m supposed to be writing the sequel to my debut book, and got stuck. The bright-shiny beckoned. This post has made me realize I *have* to push through it, for my own sanity if nothing else.

    Thanks for the well-needed kick up the rear 🙂

  52. Kristen…no need to reply: I sometimes do this just to hear myself and then I “click & re-focus” and all feels strong again.
    My social media stats are pathetic and NIL books sold in six months. But I sit everyday and work one page-two or even five, it doesn’t matter. Another book grows.

    Big sigh.

    Pick up and go! Pick up and go! And work everyday at being imaginative. That’s the way it is….

  53. I hit these walls of self doubt. Good to know it’s all passion and perseverance and not my love of self-torture. Seriously, You get right at what’s important. Thank you. I’m sharing.

  54. I couldn’t agree more with dogged persistence. I love writing and write all the time but the passes do occasionally drag me down.Fortunately, writing helps to ease the pain.

  55. Thanks so much for your great advice. I recognize these ideas as valid and I try to live by them all.
    Thank you for keeping this blog..

  56. Just wanted to let you know that your blog inspired mine today–and I linked to this post. 🙂

  57. Once again you are spot on. The healthy relationship with failure and passion goe hand in hand with courage. Not only by trying in the first place, but having the courage to ask for help, to go to workshops, to put work out there where it can be criticized.

  58. So true… and I am sharing this blog!

  59. All important traits, particularly discipline. The comment I hear the most is, “Wow, I don’t have the discipline to blog or write or start my own business”. There are so many talented, I mean really talented people out there that don’t have many of the traits you mention. It blows my mind to think about what they could accomplish if they just had the confidence and the discipline.

  60. Reblogged this on moniquerockliffe and commented:
    Hi everyone. I hope you enjoyed this great blog, that it made you think and inspired you. I apologise for being absent for a while, but life has been rather hectic of late – work and holidays – and I promise to post an original within the next week. Until then, have a fantastic week and weekend!

  61. Somewhere I came across the notion that confidence is a result of Repeated Failure–not repeated success. Success is nice, and maybe it’s the intermittent positive reinforcement we need to perseverate, but we become confident when we know we’ve paid our dues (which takes longer than most of us think). When we’ve done the mandatory mis-steps (submitted too soon, disdained the submission guidelines, left the external conflict too late, tacked on too much denouement, etc), we begin to approach our goals with some assurance of attaining them.

    And these characteristics are not unique to writers. Musicians, lawyers, parents, teachers, lovers… when are these characteristics NOT a good idea?

  62. Love the Maestro story and I agree with you on learning from failure. I have a file full of rejections and it taught me to try harder learn my craft better and it paid off.

  63. So many thought-provoking ideas, Kristen. You’ve hit the nail on the head with the point about self-discipline being a muscle we have to develop. Thanks for a great article; one I’ve bookmarked.

    • Sjb B on July 10, 2013 at 3:30 pm
    • Reply

    Hi Kristen! Always love reading your blog.You have taught & inspired me greatly! I just published a “Story” and it is trending on ReadWave> readwave.com/-thecreepy-cr…#story via @readwave. Would you please read it.. Comment if you like the story. If you do like it, will you embed it on your site for more exposure?

    Sincerely, J Biss @singin4him2

    Sent from my iPad

  64. Another excellent post. I’m not sure why you think your blogging is bad when I’ve yet to find a “bad” post. As for your questions. I struggle with everything and nothing. It all depends on where i’m at in the story. Lately, I realized I struggle with descriptions but i’m excellent with details. To many new beginners (myself included) are told. “You need more details,” when what the critter really means is, “work on your descriptions.”

    Self discipline is definitely something we all struggle with. I’m not longer upset that it’s taken me two years to write Skydreamer, with an untold amount of time left, I’m now happy. Who all gets to work on their craft every single day in a story they love?

    • Jo on July 10, 2013 at 9:23 pm
    • Reply

    I definitely struggle to keep myself focused on the novel I’m working on when new ideas begin haunting me. I love that saying, “I will either find a way or I will make one.” My new mantra, I think.

  65. I have so many flaws, I’ve lost track, but one thing I know, I’ll never give up!

  66. “Self-discipline is a muscle of character, and it needs to be trained and built just like biceps.” Thank you! This kind of encouragement is why I follow your blog.

    I’ll be thinking of you and the writing life now every time I see the office calendars at my Dreaded Day Job – this year the inspirational quote is Hannibal’s.

    Catch you later – I gotta go prod my elephant up some Alps.

  67. You continue to inspire me and remind me everyday to keep working. And that’s what it’s all about, isn’t it?

    • Dr. Rakhshanda Fazli on July 11, 2013 at 2:16 pm
    • Reply

    Reblogged this on Jugraphia Slate.

  68. Humility. Perseverance. Passion. You are SO right. Have fun on your jaunt 🙂

  69. Reblogged this on Lance Phillips.

  70. Reblogged this on justaweirdthought and commented:
    For everyone who aspires to be a good author…

  71. Reblogged this on Obsessive Reader and commented:
    Love this!

  72. Reblogged this on rawiyaerotica and commented:
    Great blog from Kristen Lamb! Advice for authors

  73. True that. Especially about learning to be resilient after failure (and rejection) and persevering anyway.

  74. Add patience.
    In 1975, I’d sold a couple of short stories and a longer technical article so I decided to embark on novel length fiction and wrote the first draft of “Coasting” on a portable typewriter perched on my knee while on watch in the engine room of various ships. Not satisfied with the first draft, I kept going and ended up with ten drafts, each in it’s own spring binder. The averaged around 100,000 words.
    Semi satisfied, I used my next leave to investigate the possible financial rewards of being a writer, speaking to published writers, agents, publishers and anybody that I thought might have information. The result was the realization that I could never meet my financial obligations to a wife and three school aged children as an author. Knowing that successful publication would divert me from the study required to succeed in my technical career, I put the ten copies aside and kept my writing as a relaxation while I climbed through the ranks of my profession to reach its pinnacle in the offshore oil industry.
    In 1997, I grasped the opportunity of voluntary redundancy and retired with a fair body of completed stories, all in electronic form now. Realizing that I had a new craft to learn if I wanted to be successful, I completed several writing courses, finding them of varying value and started entering competitions, writing suitable pieces for each one. There are more romance competitions than any other type, so I entered them as well, winning two national ones and a five book contract with a new publisher of paperback romances in Australia.
    She insisted that I write under a female pseudonym and I took my wife’s middle name and her maiden name and Amy Gallow was born. She was published eighteen times in books, magazine shorts, etc., before I felt confident enough to turn back to my original stories and write under my own name.
    As an aside, I must pay tribute to the eleven editors and five publishers who provided information, support and patience along the way.
    I still write occasionally as Amy, but I have four titles under my own name now and my original book, “Coasting” was published last year. A second sea story comes out in August as I continue to learn a craft that has fascinated me all my life.
    David Andrews

  75. I wrote two very similar posts to this, well actually three if you don’t count my most popular article. I am a firm believer that every writer should have at least one rejection letter. It brings us down, back to planet Earth, where dreams are something you have to work toward, where we still have a lot to learn. Thanks for the tips! It helps to know that my stubbornness to write is a respected quality.

  76. I kept all my rejection letters, I suppose so I could go back and read them and be reminded of the encouragement I received at the beginning of my quest to become published. The waiting was torture, but it taught me patience…patience needs to be on that list.

    1. I remember when I started saving rejection form letters of more than twenty-five hole-punched on the side and saved in a ring binder folder. The rejection letters were form letters, which looked like it were photocopied by a low toner copier machine and several were not aligned properly when copied, crooked.

      1. I forgot to add that I stapled the envelope to the form rejection letter so I would know, who sent it, since the form letter did not have corporate name and address, what more the name of an editor. I hand wrote the name or the publishing house and the address on the SASE so I would know, who sent it back. I received some with the initials of the editor.

        1. When I had had enough rejection on my first book, I went back to the same agents/editors who’d sent me more than a form letter and queried them again with my second book. Happily, I got my first contract.

          1. Bummer, I missed out. It is similar to an agent from Hollywood wrote back that she no longer represented screenplays and she suggested The Writers’ Guild of America (website) to find an agent representing screenplays and she added in the letter – BUT if I had a mystery novel, she would be happy to look at it.

            I had never completed a novel. 20k for a Writers of the Future contest and the screenplay was written to get a job with ABC/DISNEY for $70K a year, as a corporate writer on staff. I did not win so why not send the screenplay to an agent after it was returned. I was intimidated and I did not quickly write a novel and send it to the agent. Years and years I lost her address and letter now that I have completed novels.

  77. Reblogged this on Kori Miller Writes and commented:
    This is a good list. Here’s where my view differs from the author’s. I don’t believe in failure. Or, perhaps it’s simply that I view it differently. I believe you get what you expect. It’s the Pygmalion Effect. This effect can manifest positively or negatively — it’s up to you. I don’t expect failure to be the result of anything I set out to accomplish. I go all in. If I don’t, then the result is always negative (a failure, by some people’s definition.)
    How does this work when you query and get a rejection? Funny you should ask. It happened to me yesterday.
    I sent a query, for one of my picture books, to a well-known agent. It was a long shot. I did it anyway. She enjoyed reading it, described it as “lively and original,” but that it didn’t fit her list. I checked her list out before sending the query. The bottom line is, I can’t control how she views her list. It’s hers. I did appreciate the compliments.
    In this scenario, I sent my best effort. I expected her to read it and respond. She did — personally. Sending a query to her is part of my overall game plan and my expectations are that eventually one of the agents I contact will be a perfect fit. So, my expectation is about finding an agent, not necessarily finding this agent.
    “People rise to the level of expectation set.” Hime Escalante
    Stand and deliver,my friends. Set the bar high. Expect the best (from yourself, especially.)

  78. Great blog post! Reblogging this! 🙂

  79. Such good advice. I’m working on building a following and I cannot agree with your five points here more. I’ll post a link back to this from my website as well. Thanks.

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