The One Thing that has the most impact on an Author’s Chances of Success

What is The One Thing,
such that the doing of it
makes everything else easy and/or unnecessary

Credit: The One Thing by Gary Keller

It depends on where you are in your journey as an author

The One Thing for Beginning Authors

It’s actually two things, both critically important

  1. Understanding that it is a long and hard struggle – a marathon with every single mile being difficult and demanding. No amount of ‘buying marketing’ or ‘buying secrets of success’ or ‘positive thinking’ or ‘visualization’ is going to make it Quick and Easy
  2. Having extreme patience and some humility and realizing that you are trying to master THREE separate skills – What to Write, Writing Well, Marketing Well

The One Thing for Beginning Authors with 100+ Book Sales

It’s one incredibly painful thing

  1. That all your work so far is absolute dross and you have to greatly improve the quality of your product

New authors will struggle to sell their book, be banging their head against the wall, and it will feel like getting to 100 sales took forever

The simple reason it is a struggle is that your work at the start is just not good enough

In the very beginning of your journey as an author – your writing sucks, your choice of editor sucks, the cover you have chosen is wrong, you make a mess of almost everything you touch

Until and unless you fully embrace that the reason your book is not selling is that it is not a quality product YET, you will be unable to break through to the next level

If this gets you upset – that’s Very Good

The biggest thing standing in the way of success is your Ego. It is your Ego that is making you think that your very first try at writing a book and marketing a book is going to succeed. That you will somehow figure it all out and succeed with just one attempt

It is akin to believing – I think I’ll become a professional racing car driver starting today. Within 6 months I will be driving in Nascar or Formula 1 and winning races

The One Thing for Authors with some experience and 1,000+ book sales

If you want to be happy OR are happy with 1,000 book sales, please don’t read the rest of this post

The One Thing if you want to get from 1,000+ book sales to 10,000+ book sales is

  1.  Understanding and Accepting that You are missing 2 or 3 of the 3 Key Skills for Success РKnowing What to Write, Being Able to Write Very Well, Being Able to Market Very Well

It’s great that you sold 1,000+ books. It usually means you have at least one of the 3 above skills. However, it also means you have a lot of scope for growth because you are missing the other 2 Skills

It’s a completely different mindset and skill set to sell 10,000 books (as opposed to selling 1,000 books)

Everything you learnt to get to 1,000 book sales becomes unimportant and you have to develop a completely different mindset

  1. The first thing is you need to start writing a lot more books and to start thinking of yourself as a business. You have to have multiple products. Businesses that thrive are ones which have multiple products that are hits and which can support each other. Microsoft with Office, Windows, Azure Cloud, Xbox, Surface, etc. Apple with iPhone, iPad, Mac, App Store, iPod, etc
  2. The second thing is you have to go through the painful process of realizing and accepting the reason you aren’t yet selling 10,000+ books – It is because your book/books are not yet good enough to sell 10,000+ copies. That means figuring out what you are missing (out of the 3 Key Skills)
  3. The third thing is to iterate and test and figure out a winning strategy that works for your books and for you

This is, strangely enough, the toughest jump to make. It is far easier to go from 10,000 sales to 100,000 sales or from 100,000 sales to 1 million sales, than it is to go from 1,000 sales to 10,000 sales

If you fail at this stage, it will be because you failed to do one simple thing ->

  1.  Understand and Accept that You are Missing 2 or 3 of the 3 Key Skills for Success РKnowing What to Write, Being Able to Write Very Well, Being Able to Market Very Well

The One Thing for Authors who cannot get to 1,000+ book sales no matter how hard they try

What if you can’t make the jump from 100 sales to 1,000 sales?

It is almost always because you are missing 2 or all 3 of the 3 Key Skills Authors need to Succeed

  1. Knowing What to Write. Are you actually doing market research before you write? Or are you throwing darts with a blindfold on and hoping for a miracle?
  2. Being Able to Write Very Well. This is the toughest one for people to understand. Regardless of how good your story is, or how good you are in your day job, you have to start in writing from Square One – it is a SKILL you have to learn. You can only learn it by actually writing
  3. Being Able to Market Very Well. This is also a SKILL and it is also one you have to learn from scratch

If you master one of these three skills, you are guaranteed to sell 10,000 or more books

If you get decently good in all 3, then even without mastering one, you will sell 10,000+ books

If you are not able to get to 1,000 book sales then it means you are messing up in all 3 skills. These are the 3 Core Skills you need to Succeed as an Author and you have no choice other than to learn them

The One Thing for Authors with a decent amount of experience and 10,000+ book sales

There are only 3 ways you can get to 10,000+ book sales

  1. The first is blind dumb luck. As that is not reproducible, we will not discuss it here
  2. The second is by becoming extremely good at one of the 3 Core Skills – Figuring out What to Write, Writing Very Well, Marketing Very Well
  3. The third is by becoming decently/passably good in each of the 3 Core Skills – Figuring out What to Write, Writing Very Well, Marketing Very Well

You can probably guess how to get from 10,000 sales to 100,000 sales

You absolutely have to master 2 or more of

  1. Knowing What to Write
  2. Being Able to Write Very Well
  3. Being Able to Market Very Well

Mastering a skill means really, really mastering a skill. You are not going to be able to sell 100,000 books until and unless you absolutely master 2 or more of these Core Skills for Success

The One Thing for Authors with 10,000+ book sales who have hit a wall

Your ‘Wall’ is of your own making. People get stuck at 10,000+ book sales and don’t reach 100,000 book sales if they fall into one of the following traps

  1. Letting their writing stagnate. If you get lazy and don’t keep improving your writing, your sales will stagnate
  2. Ignoring marketing. Way too many authors ignore marketing. You write well and you write where there is a good market. You get good sales. You just can’t seem to get to great sales. The Answer is MARKETING MASTERY
  3. Writing for the wrong market or too small a market. This is the toughest to solve. If you are writing for a market that does not suit your abilities and writing style, or if you are writing for a tiny market, then you will never get to 100,000 sales. To get to 100,000+ sales you will have to find the right market which is large enough and also fits your writing style
  4. Thinking they can succeed with just 1 or 2 books. You need to have multiple products. It is much much easier to sell a new book to an existing customer, than it is to find a completely new customer
  5. Not building your own channels. You must have your own email list, your own blog, your own social media presence (even if small), your own method of informing your most loyal readers that your new books are out
  6. Developing an Ego. We see a lot of authors who sell 20,000 books and then start being rude to their editor, spending all their time pontificating on forums instead of writing, thinking they are the next Stephen King, etc. The best way to get permanently stuck at your current level of success, is to start thinking you’re the Sultan of Brunei
  7. Not understanding the importance of getting reviews, and in particular – getting reviews from your best customers
  8. Becoming servants/serfs of some larger entity/company. These golden chains are so pretty and they look so good wrapped around my neck. What is it you say – I can have another set for my ankles? Sure, why not
  9. Looking for shortcuts and focusing on those, instead of the stuff that actually works – writing better, marketing better, figuring out What to Write better

The reason you are stuck is because you have created a Wall for yourself and trapped yourself into thinking you cannot get past it

The One Thing for Authors with good amount of success and 100,000+ book sales

If you’ve sold 100,000+ books then you have mastered at least 2 of the 3 Core Skills – Knowing What to Write, Writing Very Well, Marketing Very Well

Now, you can take one of two paths and either will take you to the next level (500,000 to 1 million books sold)

  1. Path 1: Creating a Success Engine and Leveraging Your Resources Very, Very Efficiently. If you use your time and money and resources very well, you can get to 1 million books sold, even without adding the third Core Skill to the 2 Core Skills that took you to 100,000 sales
  2. Path 2: Mastering the 3rd remaining Core Skill. If, for example, you have found a good market to write in, and have learnt to write very well, the Surest Path to Big Success is to master Marketing. Master all 3 Core Skills and 1 Million book sales are simply a function of how many books you can write a year and for how long you will continue to write

Of course, that begs the question – What about Path 3? What if an author were to BOTH

  1. Leverage their Resources very, very efficiently
  2. AND
  3. Master the 3rd Core Skill which they have not yet mastered

Well, that’s when Magic happens. The only downside is that the rest of your life will suffer immensely. You are already aware of this as mastering 2 of the Core Skills would have driven you to the edge of insanity. It is up to you whether you want to go all in and sacrifice everything else in your life, or stay sane

The One Thing for Authors with 100,000+ book sales who have hit a wall

You have to do one of the above two things – Either Create a Success Engine OR Master the 3rd remaining Core Skill

And to do one or both, you have to find Your Intrinsic Motivation

  1. Find a REASON you want to sell a million books
  2. Create a VISION of what your life will be like after you’ve sold a million books
  3. Let go of all societal motivations – don’t be saying ‘I want to sell a million books so I can donate 10% to charity’ until and unless that is the very core motivation for you to sell a million books. It will only work if you find what YOUR own internal driving force is

If you find your Internal Driving Force, after letting go of everything society and your parents and your teachers and your spouse are brainwashing you into wanting, then you will most assuredly reach the Next Level of Success

If you want exceptional success, you have to be exceptional. For that, you need to let go of the societal brainwashing that success and money are somehow ‘bad’ and ‘money cannot buy you happiness’

The One Thing for Authors with very good success and 1 Million+ book sales

There are actually two things

  1. Stabilizing and Reinforcing what has made you very successful. You only get to 1 million+ books sold if you have mastered all 3 of the Core Skills – Knowing What to Write, Writing Very Well, Marketing Very Well. To keep your success you have to keep all 3 Skills strong. You also have to keep writing more books. Remember: You cannot have your mind free to focus on The Next Level until and unless you lock down your current level of success
  2. Finding the Magic Ingredient that will take you to The Next Level
    1. Things that can be the Magic Ingredient (any one of these if done right will get you to The Next Level) – taking control of your destiny (freeing yourself from the ebook stores/book stores), reaching Supreme Mastery level in any 1 of the Core Skills, allying with a Giant (signing a book deal with a Top Publisher or a top tech company), establishing your own direct marketing channels and getting 1 million+ readers on them, expanding your portfolio of books consistently (while maintaining high quality), seeing Reality As It Is (what is happening in the market), leveraging your resources super efficiently (squeezing every bit of value out of them), partnerships with other authors (though they can also sink you, so tread very carefully)
    2. Things that are definitely NOT the Magic Ingredient – shortcuts, courses that promise you the secret, exclusive type deals that ostensibly will give you some special benefit, compromising on writing quality to produce books faster, screwing over your readers

You have to do both – stabilizing and reinforcing AND ALSO Finding the Magic Ingredient that takes you to the next level

You also have to be aware that certain entities in the ecosystem want to ensure no author can reach a very high level of success and self reliance. When you see entities who have created ‘leveling’ systems which prevent authors from reaching the highest levels of success, avoid those ‘leveling systems’. Leveling Systems are ecosystems which are ‘Small Rewards for Every Author, No Author Gets Big Rewards’ type of ecosystems

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