5 of the Worst Traits That Keep Indie Authors From Success

For my first 2016 post, I'd like to share the things I've learned while working with authors. I think it's important to understand first what could possibly hold you back from getting closer to your goals, before you can go on and build an effective author platform.

Eeva Lancaster's Desk

Success has a different meaning for each person. For the purpose of clarity, in this article, success will mean either book sales or a strong author platform. Your books are selling OR you have a strong presence.

Some of my experiences with authors have enriched my own career, and some have frustrated me so much I'd pull out my hair if I didn't have so little. Sometimes, I get so disillusioned. But then I meet wonderful indie authors who inspire me, and I go back to helping them create great books.

Personality has a way of creeping in and affecting our success or failure - even with the best intentions.

What effects am I talking about?
  1. Books get little or no attention.
  2. Unknown in the industry.
  3. Weak author platforms.
  4. Expenses that don't show the desired results.
  5. Waste of time.

Sad BookAt the end of the day, it's always about the book. It's always about the business of self publishing. That's the reason why I highlight these things. It's not personal, I don't know you from Adam. But we're all in the same industry. What you do, affects all Indie authors.

The problem we all have to acknowledge is that in self publishing, the fate of the book is in our hands. 

That's why we have to look at ourselves first.

My heart goes out to beautifully written books that will forever remain in obscurity because of an author's self-sabotaging attitude.

So, here are 5 traits that I think keeps authors from succeeding in self publishing. 

Do you have them?



No Willingness to Learn

Self published authors come from all demographics, and anyone can write a book and publish. Very few come from the publishing or advertising industry. Many have no experience at all in graphic design, marketing or publishing. They're writers, with a story to tell - and many are wonderful storytellers.

I don't believe that famous authors are better writers than indies. In fact, in my short time in the publishing industry, I've discovered that many books from high profile authors are mediocre, and some unknown books are so good they can compete with the best traditionally published authors.

From this, you can conclude that it's not just about the writing skills. An indie author needs to learn everything there is to know about how to write, publish and market their books.

But how many care to learn? I mean REALLY learn?

Author X asks me for advice on formatting, for example, and I share some tips. Does she follow it? No.

Author A asks me to give feedback on his cover, and I give an honest critique. Does he take it into consideration? No. He unfollows me.

Author C whines that her efforts are not getting any traction, and I give some advice on how she can improve her presence and reputation. Does she listen? No.

There's no genuine, whole-hearted willingness to learn. Many go through the motions half-heartedly, but they are NOT really invested.

They just need you to validate and praise their work. They don't need the feedback for improvement and growth. And that's a big problem.

Because there's so much to learn. If an author wants to stay competitive and bring their book closer to the readers, they have to become an expert in this business. Otherwise, they should hire an agent or book manager so they can just write to their heart's delight.


Inflated Sense of Self Importance

The most popular and successful self published authors I know have several things in common:
  • They are curious and flexible.
  • They are open to feedback and experimentation.
  • If they don't know how to do something, they are wise enough to hire people who do.
  • They acknowledge the people who helped them publish their book.
  • They understand the power of a network.
How can you check if you have an inflated ego that's keeping you from being successful?
  • You care only about yourself and your work.
  • You have a very small network.
  • You think you know everything even if you don't.
  • You don't listen to feedback.
  • You can't acknowledge the help you received.
  • It's always about you.
This is an industry where you can't make it on your own. It's too vast, too noisy, too competitive. We need teams and a group to continue growing and produce high quality work. The editors, the formatters, the designers, the promoters, the bloggers, the reviewers, the beta readers, and our fellow authors... We need each other. 

One voice among the din won't be heard. Our network helps amplify our voices. If you believe you can do it alone, you're mistaken. It can be lonely in self-publishing without a network. 

To develop a network, you need to invest in relationships. It cannot always be about you.


So Many Excuses

We all have problems. We all have 24 hours in our day. We all need to juggle several balls in the air. However, those who are serious self publishers make time. To learn new things, be consistent in their marketing, connect with people. Others will always have excuses about how busy they are to do this and that. 

I don't get it. The book took months to write, and then come crunch time, when it's time to develop and sell it, they're too busy. It's totally self defeating.

It's ok if selling is not a priority. If it's all just for fun. But there shouldn't be any whining about minimal sales when making that happen is way down in the list of priorities. 

The book won't fix itself or sell itself.


Indecisiveness

They don't know what they want.
They don't know what they're selling.
They can't decide on what their platform would be.
They have no plans on how they will build any type of author platform.

How will people have confidence in them and read their work, if they themselves don't know what they stand for, what their work is about? 

How can they focus their energies on activities that will produce results, if they don't know what results they're aiming for?

Decide once and for all who you are, what you're about and what you're writing about. Then you can make decisions on what your next steps would be.


Can't Self Assess

Why do I write these stuff? 

I think it's important for authors to identify and accept their limitations first, if they want to grow as a self published author. If you do not know what you lack, then you cannot know what you need to improve on.

Authors who can't honestly assess themselves produce mediocre work, and they almost always waste their efforts. 

I can't stress enough that writing is only the beginning. To survive in self-publishing, you have to learn the whole process, and do what is needed for the book.


It's always about the book.

In Self Publishing, once a book is written, its fate will depend on what the author does next.
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Don't stand in the way of your book's success.


I welcome your thoughts and comments. What do you think keeps authors from succeeding?
What have you overcome and how has it affected your career positively?

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