Five Paths You Shouldn’t Follow If You Want To Be An Author


Over the years, I’ve written a variety of books for different publishers. And, I’ve also received a lot of advice about writing and the business of books. Some of it was great and some was … well-intended but not-so-great. An older author once told me, “Never release a book with a green cover!” That same year, a national publisher released a book of poetry, The Gossamer Eye, by three authors (one being me), and it did well and won a Bram Stoker Award for Excellence in Poetry. And guess what? It had a bright green cover. Since then, most of my books have had some green on the front. I consider it my lucky color.

Rather than give you random bits of advice, I would prefer to steer you away from common pitfalls that can befall authors on the path to publication. That path can be a rambling route, and while it’s a different path for everyone, the difficulties are usually the same.

  1. Never send editors your first drafts. Don’t be in a hurry to submit your work to an editor. Take the time needed to send that editor the very best manuscript you can. A lot of writers think, “It’s okay if I don’t fix the typos. That’s the editor’s job!” Maybe so … but he’s not your editor yet! Show him you know how to do a great job.
  1. Don’t expect instant responses. Remember, most popular editors have huge slush piles of paper and/or electronic submissions, and it may take some time to get to your submission. Don’t aggravate editors by repeatedly emailing about the status of your submission.
  1. Don’t wait for the publisher to do all the promotions. If the publisher does accept your book, don’t think you can just sit back and wait for the royalty checks to arrive. You should do everything you can to promote the book yourself. Blog about it … make social media posts … arrange bookstore signings. It’s your baby: be a good parent and help it grow!
  1. Don’t expect all your friends to buy your book. Many authors, particularly those who are self-published, will try to sell their books to their friends, coworkers and others in their immediate social circle. But then they’ll become discouraged when some of their friends don’t buy. The world is a big place, so don’t limit your book sales to the people you know. Those people might not even read the type of fiction you write. Use the Internet, book signings and other methods to get your work in front of people you don’t know who might enjoy your work!
  1. Never settle into a comfort zone. Don’t be afraid to expand the horizons of your writing and your book promotion. Think of new things to write about, and new ways to sell your books. You may not consider yourself a salesperson, but you do want to succeed, right? Like anything in life, give it your best shot. Some authors really enjoy doing promotions because it puts them in touch with the people who are reading their books. It’s a great way for authors to get feedback about their work.

In general, it’s always best to be patient, stay positive, keep an open mind, and don’t be afraid to try new things. I look forward to reading your book someday. I hope it has a green cover!

One thought on “Five Paths You Shouldn’t Follow If You Want To Be An Author

  • Brad Merritt

    Good afternoon Mark. The short of it is that I need help. I’ve been telling stories, writing, and even creating books for decades now and I am in need of guidance in making some important steps to see if a dream can come true. Hope you’re interested in chatting for a few minutes sometime soon. My cell is 563-529-1820 – Thanks Brad

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