People are always asking what’s the secret of becoming a published author. Actually, there is no secret, but there are six basic things that will go a long way towards success.

1. Be a reader.  Most writers do this already, but it’s amazing how many people who really don’t read think they have a book somewhere in them. Also important  is to read in the genre you want to write…read and love it. The market tends to change and sometimes authors find the genre they are famous for has dried up. Many of them will attempt to write to the new market with disastrous results. Do you quit? No, find a way to make the new genre work with your chosen love. After all, do you read only ONE type of book? Unlikely! So if you like to write historical romances and romantic suspense is king, why not write a historical romantic suspense?

2. Learn the craft. Start with basic English (or whatever is the language of your target audience). Spelling, punctuation, and grammar are YOUR responsiblity, not the editor’s. Also, learn the how to plot, how to build characters to care for, how to write believable dialogue. Learn scene and sequel, all about hooks, pro and cons of series, all the “have-to’s” of producing a selling novel.

3. Learn the business of publishing. Not just which editor is with what publisher or which agent is accepting unsolicited manuscripts, but so much more. Should you shoot for traditional or indie? Even if you have an agent, what’s a good contract? and once you’ve sold, what about taxes? What is effective promotion and how much time and money should you invest in it?

4. Persistance. Most important, how far are you willing to go? I’ve heard writers state that if they don’t sell within five years, they’re giving up.  Study the history of other authors, friends. Rejections are merely compost, to be considered as a way of improving your writing. Most well-known authors have tons of rejections under their belts. Some even have only one well-known book. The key to writer’s success is to never give up.

5. Belief in yourself. If you don’t believe in yourself, why should anyone else? Okay, there will be days when you feel you can’t do this anymore. Have some chocolate and/or wine and move past the doubt. If YOU believe you can succeed, then you can!

6. Luck. Yeah, you still have to have a certain amount of luck. That one editor who likes your work. The contest win that puts you in the spotlight. The underdog manuscript that finds an instant crowd of admiring readers. But, like the lottery, to win, you have to buy a ticket. You have to do the other five things so you’re ready with Lady Luck is there to smile on you.



  1. Great advice, Jackie. The only thing I’d change would be the order. I’d make persistance either first or last to give it more importance.
    Some people get lucky and sell the first time out (like you, for instance) others take a few years, like me. But keep-to-it-ness is the only way a true career can happen.
    Thanks, lady. You’re one of the very best.
    How is it to write full time?

  2. I saw something on Facebook the other day that sums it up nicely. Basically, writing is like training a dog and there are only 2 commands. While facing the computer you…
    1. Sit
    2. Stay
    That’s all there is to it. LOL

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