5 Steps to Success as a Writer


Perhaps you’ve written what you consider to be potentially a best-selling novel. The only trick now, you think, is to get it in front of readers and all will be well. You’ve done the hard bit: the rest is simple marketing trickery, isn't it?

Writing with the intention of publishing is a double-edged activity: yes, it is a definite achievement to have written a book; but no, the bulk of your work has not been accomplished until the book is sold in viable numbers. It’s not ‘trickery’: it’s hard work.

Here are five things to keep in mind:

1. Word of mouth.

Though you might have visions of thousands of people wandering into bookshops and being hooked by your blurb into a purchase of your treasured work, it's much more likely that your success will begin with your friends, family and colleagues. They know you, as well as the book, and so will be more willing to spread the word.

A survey of 1,000 people by BML for World Book Day in 2005 found 25% of respondents had bought their last book for pleasure on the basis of a recommendation from a friend. ‘Word of mouth is still number one even in this media-saturated age,’ says Joel Rickett, deputy editor of The Bookseller. But word of mouth doesn’t just happen. What you need is the viral effect - you need to tap into streams of communication, which right now have opened up more than ever before in the history of humanity with social media. Hoping to become a best-selling author without confronting the world of social media is like wanting to breathe without dealing with oxygen.

But social media starts with an emphasis on ‘social’: where does your social life start? With your friends and family. And so does your success as a writer.

2. The book group is the next level.