The fact is that most writers fail. Most authors never achieve any form of success, and very few ever earn any money from their writing. This shouldn’t come as a shock to you. But, is there an overriding reason why most writers fail? There are common reasons why people fail their driving tests, or why people’s marriages fail, so what about writers? Are there common reasons why writers don’t make it? Here are the top five reasons why you may fail. Brace yourself. These may hurt…
1. You Simply Have Bad Writing Skills and Storytelling Problems
The phrase, “You ain’t that good at it” springs to mind, but it is a little unfair, so let’s clarify. Every writer starts out bad. The difference between successful and unsuccessful writers is that unsuccessful writers don’t know they are bad. When they read their own writing, they think it’s fantastic.
If your writing isn’t covered in pollen, it probably isn’t the bee’s knees.
What’s worse is that unsuccessful writers show their work to friends and family, and the poor souls want to be supportive, so they say it’s “Good for a first effort,” which should be translated as “I would never recommend it to any of my friends.”
Poor quality authors write kid’s books by accident.
Unsuccessful writers also ignore criticism. The same is true of all people in creative fields. If people on Facebook do not like their paintings, then the people on Facebook are stupid. If people on YouTube don’t like their music, then the people on YouTube “Just don’t get it.” Poor quality writers ignore criticism, be it valid or not. Ignoring criticism is only a luxury you get to enjoy when you are good at what you do. Until that point, you need to use criticism as a reason to keep improving yourself. Here are some tips…
- You need to perpetually improve yourself
- Remember that you are not as good as you think you are
- You are not your worst critic
- Friends and family cannot help you improve your writing skills
- Critics will hurt your feelings because it is their job
- Ignoring criticism is only okay if you are purposefully improving yourself daily
2. You Picked the Wrong Market or a Bad Topic
Here is what you should do. Donate $100 to the Born Free charity foundation, and they (usually) send you a small certificate in the mail saying you donated. Strike up conversations with random people and tell them how you saw something sad online and it prompted you to donate your money to the Born Free charity. Once you have casually shown the person your certificate, start talking about a book you are thinking about writing. Describe it (briefly or in detail), and ask if the other person is interested in reading it. They will probably say yes. Tell the person that you are going to charge $10 for your book, and that they can have one of the first copies if they will pay $1 in advance. If you can get 20 people to pay $1 in advance, then write the book. If you cannot, then you have picked the wrong topic and/or you are shooting for the wrong market, so don’t waste your time writing it.
If your life is a hilarious mess, consider writing an autobiography.
Poor quality writers often say, “I can’t sell my book online because I have to explain to people why it is so great.” If you have to explain its greatness to people, then it means you have to sell it to them, and people don’t like being sold to. You need to pick a topic and/or create a story that the market is crying out for and that people are actively searching for.
People with multi-personalities are their own worst critics.
Many writers fail because they write a book nobody wants to read. They can’t understand why other people are not as excited about their book as they are. The only way you can be sure you are going to sell your work is if you can sell it before you have written it.
- The charity donation idea (above) is a good thing to do
- Understand your audience by selflessly giving money away
- Do not move too quickly from charity conversation to book conversation
- Do not imply that your book is for charity
- If you cannot sell your book before you write it, then you will never sell it
- Spending money on selling your book is like boiling water to conserve it
3. You have unrealistic beliefs
You are not alone…every person that uploads a YouTube video honestly believes they are going to be stars within a few weeks. You have a deep emotional attachment to your work. The Simpsons call it “Pride of authorship.” When you write, you become emotionally invested in your work, which often makes you think it is far better than it is. It also makes you very averse to making edits.
Don’t use no double negatives and never ever use repetitive redundancies.
Ikea uses a “Pride of building” principle to sell their furniture. They have buyers build their own furniture and suddenly the buyer feels more attached to the furniture than they may have otherwise been if it were pre-constructed.
Terrible authors write books on marketing…check books.
Temper your enthusiasm as much as you can. There is nothing wrong with loving what you have created, but understand that being a successful writer is like impregnating a woman using millions of sperms. It is fun to do, but you have to shoot a lot of shots at the target before you are successful.
- Understand that you are emotionally invested in your work
- Understand that your emotional attachment may skewer your perception
- Realize that your writing process needs to improve
- Recognize that improving requires time and lots of work
- Success only happens after you try try try try try try try and try again
4. You boxed yourself in
Sometimes, your lack of success has just as much to do with bad marketing as it has to do with (possibly) bad writing. There are plenty of writers (good and bad) that have made their job more difficult by making marketing mistakes. Picking a clever and/or slightly confusing title is like naming all three of your triplets “Larry.” The name you pick is probably the biggest selling point your book has. There are writers that have called their fictional books something as foolish as “Dot” or “Opening of the soul” or “Triberthian Lands Of Free Tricketon Women.”
Even Moses had to start out with self-publishing on slabs of rock.
Your title is one selling point, and the book cover is another. There is an overwhelming number of amateur writers on the Internet who are mostly guilty of spending years writing their books and spending just days creating their book cover.
People judge books by their covers…the saying exists for a reason!
The release date doesn’t really matter to amateur and/or new writers, but it may have an impact. For example, if you are generating interest before you release your book, then the date and time you release your book may be very important, especially if you wish to saturate social media with the release.
- Think up 50 titles and take a survey on the best one
- A clever, complex or confusing title is often a mistake
- Spend lots of time and good money on your book cover
- Consider generating numerous covers and market testing them
- Your release date may be important if you are promoting with social media
5. You’re Lazy
Writing requires a massive amount of time, lots of learning, meeting people, experimenting, developing and laying groundwork. You need to be CEO of you own book enterprise. Remember that you can outsource things like proofreading to writing services if things become too difficult and/or time consuming. (Here’s an example of a writing service.)
Mystery writers screw in light bulbs with a surprising twist at the end.
Don’t rule out the possibility that you may not be cut out to be a writer. Being a writer often means being alone and quiet for hours on end. It is not the sort of job that some people can do well because it is a very solitary lifestyle to lead. Your laziness may stem from the fact you are not cut out to be a writer.
Never date an apostrophe. They are too possessive.
Writers also experience burnout where they cannot write anymore and they just want to quit. Give yourself a few days and go back to it because it may not be laziness, you may have simply burnt out temporarily.
- Farm out the boring or difficult tasks to other people
- You may be too lazy to write a book
- Some people are not cut out to be solitary and lonely writers
- You may be experiencing burnout
- Passion will fuel your efforts only so far… the rest requires work
Writing is a tough job and some people are not up to it. Even talented writers often fail because there is too much competition in the writing industry. You need talent, luck, and a masochistic streak that allows you to spend months alone in a room with just the hum of your computer to keep you company.