What makes a Good Author?

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This is a question I have asked for many years now, in fact I started asking myself this whenI decided to write for publication. I wanted to know what I would have to do to be a good author. I don’t know that I have all the answers, but I have come up with a few things that I know for a fact are required to make a good author. And when I say “good” author, I mean successful.

What is success? My definition is: the positive result of serious effort and smart decision making with a specific goal in mind.

So what does it take? Here are my top ten things.

  1. Enthusiasm
  2. Integrity
  3. Commitment
  4. Determination
  5. Vigilence
  6. Stamina
  7. Support
  8. Values
  9. Humor
  10. Desire

A good author needs to be 100% enthusiastic about their work.

A good author needs to be consistent in their efforts and values.

A good author needs to be totally committed to the successful sales of their book. Not just in getting it into production.

A good author needs to be determined to succeed. They need to be willing do whatever it takes and to make sacrifices if necessary.

A good Author needs to be vigilent in their efforts for continued writing, marketing, and selling. Being an author is a multi-faceted experience and not an easy one.

A good author needs to be willing to invest whatever time is required to attend events, meet people, and talk about their work.

A good author needs to surround themself with other successful people as well as people who  are eager to support and encourage them in all of their positive efforts.

A good author must accept the way the industry works and be willing to adjust their efforts as things change without giving up what they truly believe in.

A good author must roll with the punches. The book industry is a funny one and sometimes the only solution is to sit back and laugh at life before getting back up and doing what you have to.

A good author has to have the true in-your-gut-can’t live without it desire to be successful. Just saying it doesn’t make it so.

Don’t write a book and expect everyone else to do all the work for you. It is your book and no one is responsible for its success except you.

A good author needs to believe!


7 responses to “What makes a Good Author?

  1. Gwendolyn Petrarch

    Hello Karen,
    Down a winding road of website twists and turnings I am new to this site and delighted in having found it. I loved your top ten list of what an author needs to possess in order to keep on keeping on. I am previously published and am closer than ever to placing my latest in the Romance genre. Although I have to agree with your list I realize that these different attributes must burgeon forth some stronger than other depending upon whether you’ve been rejected or accepted, or rejected constructively or otherwise – My latest received a rejection that touted the solid strength of the writing and the story itself but stated that it didn’t quite fit their program. It wasn’t what I wanted to hear (duh) but it was encouraging (like you say above I’m sitting back and laughing at life). So for me, right now, humor would have to be at #1 spot – we all have to keep our sense of it in order to keep from throwing ourselves out the window (I live in a ranch – fat lot of good that’d do me)!
    Thanks for your wise words
    Petrarch (Gwen)

  2. I loved your list Karen 🙂 I think a good author needs to be very observant, curious, enthusiastic and persistent!

  3. I’d also like to add something else that I forgot. And I don’t want any of my authors to feel singled out, this has happened and is happening in my house and have heard the same ting from several other publishers as well.

    A good author needs to be obedient. Not like a child would be, but they have to know how to follow directions/instructions and to abide by things the way they are laid out.

    THis is specifically regarding covers and timing. Publishers are not required and most refuse to let the author decide what is on the cover, if they do ask for input, it is just that, input. This is the publisher’s decision and should be accepted as part of the business.

    When a publisher sets a date for release, then you know that is the date. It tends to become a problem when every single authors sets up events on their schedule and then expects the publisher to meet the needs of publication to accomodate them. That is not how it works. You get a release date, you work your schedule around that.

    Now, all of that said, I am notorious for trying to please my authors and their schedules and let me tell you it has and i making my life a living hell. Why? Because everyone wants everything all at the same time and we are only so many.

    Think about this when you get that contract and you are eager to get going. We love that eagerness, but can’t always make it work.


  4. Interesting post. I think I’d add another item:

    “A good author needs to be willing to adapt to an ever-changing market place.”

  5. Being an author reminds me of being a teacher. When you first start out you dream of imparting knowledge in an idyllic setting and quickly find out you spend a fair amount of time being a secretary, nurse, parent, counselor, juggler and occassionally get to teach! As a teacher the joy is in the moments where you make a difference. As an author the journey too is multi-faceted. The writing is the fun part (at least for me), sitting at the computer, tapping furiously! The publication, marketing, public relations, juggling, acrobatics part is where we often need to stretch ourselves. But it’s all part of an incredible journey…thank God I’m a part of it:)

  6. I couldn’t agree more with you – excellent list!

  7. I very much appreciated this post, Karen. As someone who is going through the process of my first book deal after twenty years of writing and submitting, I am beginning to realize that the contract is only the beginning of the journey. An author must wear lots of hats and be committed to carving out time for lots of things to move their career and craft forward–many of which may not be writing. I look forward to learning as I go!

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