DO NOT GET DISCOURAGED!! The 6 Things You Need To Do To Be A Successful Author



If you look at some author groups on Facebook, you hear a lot of complaints: no sales, no reviews, no royalties, marketing is hard…


anti_no_crap_yard_signApparently, life sucks for authors.





Complaining about book sales is a bitchfest designed to… do what, exactly?


COMPLAINER: Is anyone selling books? I hear authors selling one or two every now and then but no one I know is making a killing, or has a best seller!


REPLY 1: Not selling as many these days as 2010-2011. I definitely know authors who are doing well. It usually requires writing great books and several of them and sticking with it for years.


REPLY 2: No one is going to sell much as long as they continue with Kindle Unlimited.


COMPLAINER: My friends say they sell, but what they don’t say, is they buy the books, & give them away. “I say, that’s no sell.” As they don’t make no money, nor royalties on their books.


REPLY 3: I have made no money on anything I’ve written or published at all in any format


REPLY 4: I published for the first time in January this year and things were going okay until around July when it nose dived. It picked up a bit until this month and now I barely sell one or two a day. I’m hoping that if I self publish my next, which I hope to do early next year, it will kick start sales of my current book.


REPLY 5: I have done well but need to put out new books.


REPLY 6: My sales have collapsed. The only sales these past few weeks were 6 in Germany, (Amazon de) and as I have to reach 100 Euros before I get paid, I will almost certainly never be paid for those. I assume just too many books out there.


REPLY 7: I sold a few here and there until ‘BOOK NAME’ was released in early October. It stood at #1 in SPORTS VENUE best sellers during October and remained in the top 10 so far throughout November, so sales have been brisker.


COMPLAINER: A few are selling books, but those authors are going out of their way, to pay promoting companies. Plus traveling to different cities to book signings, & talking about their books to everyone that will listen. Having a box of books in their car, in case someone wants to buy.


REPLY 8: marketing has to be done regardless – even if it means door knocking your locl district then moving furture afield. yes cart books in cars – in your handbag what ever where ever, -I used to sell many years back and travelled a long way


REPLY 9: Well, I have to admit that I do almost nothing to promote my books. (rueful face)


REPLY 10: So very true. It’s a consistent process to build an audience and a following, and requires all of that, and more.


REPLY 11: I agree sales have plummeted…wonder what’s happening? Too many books, or too many poor books?


REPLY 12: Right now I’m selling more Audio books than ebooks. I’m lucky I have two good narrators and I’m moving all of my books to audio.


REPLY 13: I think that audio books are the way to go!


REPLY 14: Would you mind sharing names of your narrators please. I would look at all


I am completely inspired now.

I skipped two replies, because they offered success stories and the other people didn’t seem to read them.

  • One said they had sold 10,000 copies this year so far and was doing well on KOLL, and
  • the other said her friend was doing really well.


Why would they do that?

Why did the responders skip the success stories?


Because it’s easier to blame other people than to look in the mirror and say “I need to do more.”


If life sucks as an author, go do something else. PLENTY of people make money selling books. Two of my friends just got signed with publishers last week. TWO IN THE SAME WEEK. One of my friends is doing so well she just quit her job to write full time. A few of my friends have bestselling books.


I don’t know a million people, so what’s happening? Why do I know the success stories and so many other authors don’t?


I was a sales manager for Fortune 500 companies for many years, folks, so I know a little about the attitudes of salespeople. What does that have to do with being an author? You’re selling books aren’t you?


Well, no, not according to those comments…


IF your sales are weak, you have two choices: it’s me, or the stupid buying public.


Which means 99.99% of the time, it’s you. Luckily, you can fix what’s wrong!


They were just… awful.

I have read LOTS of people’s books. People who WANT to be published. It is a twenty to one ratio of bad to good. And that doesn’t count the 2 or 3 times as many I skip because the opening line sucks or the topic doesn’t appeal to me in some way.


I can afford to be fussy! So should you! The buying public is!


Look, that doesn’t mean MY opening lines are always amazing, or that every one of my books is a page turner.


But they SHOULD BE.


You must, must, MUST have a good cover. We’ve talked about this. It’s a mini billboard ad for your book. It MUST make people want to look further – as in, read the blurb.


The blurb is not a mini story, it is AD COPY, a small advertisement for your product, the story.


The opening lines needs to be interesting. So does the opening paragraph. So does the opening chapter, but an opening chapter has to do a lot of other things, too. Like set up what the book is about.


Look, it’s simple if you address it properly. Did you see Schindler’s List or Titanic? We KNOW what happens in BOTH of those stories BEFORE we ever watch ten seconds of film. Titanic sinks. Jews get killed in WWII. There’s your plots.


But the stories that get told are amazing, and both became blockbusters.


And everybody already knew the stories.


Spielberg starts with a candle and a Jewish prayer but quickly gets into watching this wealthy guy get dressed and then go charm a bunch of Nazi officials at dinner. It’s like watching a con artist ply his trade. What’s going on? Who is this guy? LOOK HOW SMART HE IS! He’s conning everybody! I wish I was as charming as that.


There’s a whole story going on along with the one we know, but it starts right away and does so in an intriguing manner.


What is the ONE piece of advice I’d give any new writer about their story? Take the most interesting thing in the chapter and say it first, in the opening paragraph if possible and in the opening line if you can. Grab my attention somehow.


After that, write a good story, keep the story moving, get a decent cover and learn how to write a blurb.


THEN you can start to MARKET your book.



  1. start with the most interesting thing
  2. write a good story
  3. keep the story moving
  4. good book cover = eye catching
  5. good blurb = makes you wanna click to buy or read more
  6. marketing



That’s a whopping SIX things you need to do to be successful. I’d be willing to bet that NONE of the complainers are doing all six.


Know how I know?


I was a sales manager for a long time. I had to work with people I’d trained, but after I trained them on what to do, many didn’t do it.


And they weren’t successful because they didn’t.


Many, many, many people made more money working for me than they ever did in their entire lives.  Many didn’t do what was necessary and quit or got let go.


  • Authors, you have to market. If you don’t, you won’t be successful.
  • You have to write a good book. If you don’t, you won’t be successful.
  • Each of the six building blocks requires the other five, so if one is weak the others can compensate a little but if one doesn’t exist, the entity fails. If one is super strong, that can carry the whole thing. That doesn’t happen often. As in, less than 1 in a million. So you better get good at all six.


When you aren’t, your book won’t sell. You can then join the ranks of the complainers who know everything else is at fault except their efforts.


But we know the truth.


I want you to be successful. Move away from the folks who can’t or won’t do it. The naysayers. The whiners and complainers. You can fail all on your own; you don’t need their input, and odds are they are wasting loads of your time, too.


Find the “can do” folks.


Thumbs Up

But in the end it’s YOU who has to do it. And we’ll help. Cos complainers have figured out this blog is not the place for them.


YOU can do this. It isn’t easy, but it isn’t hard, either. And it’s not luck.


If your writing sucks, join a critique group. Inside of 30 days you’ll see stuff you’re doing wrong, and inside of 90 days you’ll be a better writer. Stay in the critique group. A year later you’ll be amazed at how good you’ve become.


If your cover sucks, hire somebody to make one. They don’t have to cost $500. I know artists who have made covers for bestsellers that cost under $50. If you don’t have $50, there are cheaper places, too, and you can LEARN to do it yourself for free – as in, you probably can’t do it on day 1, that stuff will suck. It’ll look homemade. You’ll need to learn it.


If your marketing sucks, ask other people what worked. A lot of good marketing doesn’t cost anything, like your Amazon page and a Goodreads page, Twitter, Facebook, etc., but you’d be amazed at how many flailing writers don’t have an Amazon page set up!


If you’re a crappy storyteller, think about why you want to be a writer. Read good storytellers. Emulate them the way a kid playing baseball wants to emulate Babe Ruth. Listen to audiobooks. By the way, a LOT of stuff is free at the library so it doesn’t have to cost money. Practice your craft in flash fiction challenges and in critique groups.


Get the idea? It’s all fixable.


If you put in the effort.


And stay the hell away from people who are too lazy to do the necessary work and just want to have you end up down at their level to complain  with so they don’t feel bad about their own lack of effort.


You. Can. Do it.


I’ll help you.


Published by Dan Alatorre AUTHOR

USA Today bestselling author Dan Alatorre has 50+ titles published in more than 120 countries and over a dozen languages.

57 thoughts on “DO NOT GET DISCOURAGED!! The 6 Things You Need To Do To Be A Successful Author

  1. We already know that there are areas we could improve, and that until we do, sales probably won’t get any better. But we still strive, every day, to get there.
    Could you recommend a critique group, or where to look for a good one?

    Liked by 3 people

  2. This is a great post, full of sensible advice, but I wouldn’t expect anything less from you, Dan.

    I have been thinking about critique groups on and off for a while. They sound great, but also a little scary. I think I really need to join one, but I worry that I am not experienced enough to be much use to anybody else, and I would want to be as useful to other members as they could be to me. How do groups feel about ‘newbies’?

    Covers, yes, my first cover (Virtually Strangers) was poor. I plan to redo that and relaunch it when I finish the sequel next year. I think Lightning Attraction was better, not amazing, but miles better than VS. I guess, as with anything, practice makes perfect. I will be coming up with a few options for LA2 and asking for input on my blog, as I have done with the subtitle (Still to be confirmed, but I think there is a winner).

    Advertising, still experimenting, paid and free, it’s an ongoing learning curve.

    Storytelling? People have told me for many years, even before I started writing, that I am a good storyteller, so hopefully I have something to work with! I’ll keep practicing though.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. There are free online critique groups and usually your local area will have a writing group or association that meets face to face. If you send me an email or use the contact me button, I’ll send you who I use. (Until they pay to be a sponsor, they don’t get free advertising.)

      Critique groups don’t have to be scary. Remember, we were all new once, and we need to learn, so what better place? You’ll learn a lot and you’ll see benefits, but you’ll have additional eyes spotting issues for you.

      Most are nice about it, too.

      If you type “critique group” into the SEARCH button on this page, it’ll bring up the posts I’ve done on the topic and you can get a better idea, but I’d recommend it to anyone.


  3. Great points and I would add that many writers, even with critique groups, don’t take constructive criticism well. They become stubborn about their story and it doesn’t sell well. I am querying and have been lucky to have gotten some amazing feedback. I look at those rejections positively. It means I passed the query letter test and they read my pages. I’m willing to do the work and know it’s only a matter of time before someone bites.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. You know what else? The ability to take that criticism ebbs and flows.

      I started by posting a story I knew was pretty good, to test the critique group. The story had run on Facebook and been well received, and it did okay on the critique group, so they validated themselves to me. (Cos I’m so smart, right?) Then I started posting chapters of a novel and wow, did they have comments for me – constructive stuff spoken in a language I didn’t even understand. I had a lot to learn, and I was open to it. I had to be. They knew. I didn’t know.

      I asked for help and got it. I was also arrogant at times – and a still am. I will disregard certain people’s input because they don’t write good enough. Like that makes their opinion less valuable. Sheesh. Who died and made me God?

      I’ve been accused of being too close to a story, and I’ve frustrated my critique partners – which means I’m human. But I want to be better than just human. I want to be a great writer. And although I’ve talked a few writers down off the ledge, occasionally I need to be talked off a ledge, too. Or taken down a peg.

      There, I said it.

      Ultimately, what do I want?

      I want my next book to be the best it can be. Gee, getting input from other people trying to do the same thing sounds like a great way to do that!

      As long as I can be open to ideas. Even I get a little tight sometimes!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Like you, if I don’t respect the writer, I’m less likely to respect their opinion. That can be so wrong since so many editors don’t write!
        It’s easy to get defensive in certain circumstances. I was in a critique group for a short while, but it didn’t work out for me. There were only three of us. While one of the writers understood I was in the first draft process, the other picked it apart and could never remember previous chapters. I could really use a good group of writers and am still on the look out. Personalities need to mesh too.


  4. So true. Toxic, lazy people in every profession. But don’t forget one very important ingredient, PASSION. If you don’t bring your passion to the table in creating and marketing, you have zero to sell. Really great article and sadly, so common to find the whinerfest in a full form feeding frenzy on social media, tossing chum for more hungry takers. Where is it written that any of it is easy? Just keep putting one foot in front of the other, every day, do something. At the end of the year you will have done 365 things or more, to promote your book.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Absolutely, Christina. Probably that passion is for writing and not the other things, but to be a writer you have to do all six things. Passionately, if you can, and authors would be passionate if they saw immediate results, but that’s not usually how it works.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Very few things on a creative level when marketing provide immediate results. If it did, it would not be so special and we wouldn’t try very hard to create special and creative works. It doesn’t matter what we do, we all have to eat shit sandwiches before we get to the great meal of success.


  5. Good as ever Dan – your enthusiasm shines through and advice rings true. For me I keep going back to reading Catherine Ryan Howard’s ‘Self-Printed: The sane person’s guide to self publishing’ now on it’s 3rd edition. Catherine no stranger I’m sure, her blog has 2 million plus views and 27,000 plus followers, she’s a fun opinionated young women who knows what it takes to succeed. You may well not agree with all she says but I tell you you’ll love the way she says it!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Lovely tough love, Dan. 🙂 Hard work makes sales happen, and it’s up to the person selling to decide how much they want to succeed. Trick is, if you don’t want to put in the hours, don’t complain about not getting results.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Emily. I know so many people who expect ALL the good results and put in half the effort or 1/4 the effort. I get like that, too. It doesn’t work.

      I like your comment “it’s up to the person selling to decide how much they want to succeed.”

      That’s a great lesson.

      YOU decide how much you want to succeed.

      Brilliant. I heard Megyn Kelly by way of Dr Phil (or vice versa) say “The only difference between you and someone you envy is you settled for less.”

      Same thing, and something I need to remember!


  7. I often wonder about critque groups. Frankly they scare me as I’ve heard lots of horror stories. How does one find a good one? How does one join a good one. I have no idea! As for the hard work, sure, great, I’m all for it.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I won’t lie, Jackie, some people there are assholes, and some are just in a rush so they mean well but come across as harsher than they intended.

      MOST are very nice and are super helpful.

      Use the Contact Me button and I’ll tell you which group I use. Type “critique group” into the SEARCH button and you’ll see the posts I’ve done on it. I think you’ll be pleased with your writing after you’ve been there even a short while. I was.

      Liked by 2 people

  8. Reblogged this on J. A. Allen and commented:
    In the Twitterverse today, it’s #SundayBlogShare.
    A lot of my blog followers are familiar with Dan Alatorre. Over the past few months, he has given up hours upon hours (upon HOURS) of his time helping me with my upcoming book, not to mention the time he contributed to my new blog.
    I often feel like every fledgling author could use a friend like him: a mentor to help overcome the obstacles that all new writers seem to face.
    But, you know what? He offers a lot of advice for FREE. Check this out! If you haven’t already, check out his blog. Hit that subscribe button. Get it straight from the horse’s (bestseller’s) mouth!

    Liked by 2 people

  9. Thanks, Jenny. You are so nice to say those kind words. I’m happy to see you enjoy my input, and like it enough to share with your readers. And there is more than one bestselling author who contribute to this blog, so your friends are getting some terrific input!


  10. Excellent post, Dan! I shared on Twitter & LI.

    I’m building my platform NOW while I’m working on my novel. I’ve hired a professional editor (for developmental & line edits) and a professional designer for the book cover. I also did all those things with my short stories that were traditionally and electronically published.

    I LOVE connecting with author’s who write similar genres because we can work together. We’re not competition, the same reader would read both of our books. I trade interviews with authors, joined writer’s groups on LinkedIn, in person etc.

    It’s work, but if you love what you’re doing it flows easily. You learn, you grow as a writer, meet amazing people, watch your platform grow, and move into success. What sucks about that??

    Again, thank you for this fantastic post.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Great article, Dan – thank you! I’m sharing this one. I belong to a lot of writers groups and I’m tired of hearing “You write for love, not for money.” Writing is the only (marketable) thing I do really well, and I want to be able to support myself and my family by doing what I am good at. Your article gives me hope! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  12. There is always something new, useful and/or intriguing in the comments to your posts Dan ,,, and the thing that intrigues me right now is getting more out of being on LinkedIn. I’ve never done much there but have a tidy number of diverse contacts far more than anywhere else. I’d really would like to encourage you in your own inimitable way to encourage ‘jenowenby’ to help us as writers make the most of it. I’m in its writers group by the way and always see things I should read but maybe because it’s LinkedIn don’t ever seem to find the time to get into compared to blogs.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. What a nice compliment! You are my new best friend.

      There’s a series of 3 marketing books coming out “soon” with all of it in there, just buy that. You guys will probably be asked to be beta readers or review it anyway, so you’ll likely get it for free – cos you already are getting it for free…

      Liked by 1 person

  13. I shall print this out and thwack myself (very lightly) on the head every time I get an attack of the ‘it’s not fair’s……… I’d settle for a 100 sales (I know my place- being very British here)

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Reblogged this on Jens Thoughts and commented:
    This is an excellent post from Dan. Please, do yourself a favor and visit his site. He’s great!
    Happy Thanksgiving to everyone who celebrates. I’m grateful for each and every one of you!!


  15. Kicked in the butt – thanks. I am currently writing my first novel. Although I have written a few other books, I have always let something get in the way of marketing, because it is really difficult to find the balance. This time around I have to do it right. Your honesty works for me.

    Writers will often shoot the messenger like those who say there is no such thing as writers’ block, but they too are being honest. It is lots of hard work and I think that is part of the surprise of being an author. Some just make it look so easy that it is easy to be swayed into thinking it is.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. Just what I needed to hear. It is too easy to be sucked under the quick sand of negative, whining comments. It is such a pleasure to be surrounded by positive writers. Thanks

    Liked by 1 person

      1. If you heard a big squelch, that was me pulling out of the quick sand and getting back to serious marketing, I’d stalled listening to too much crap! 🙄 I have 51/2 out of 6 in place. 👍

        Liked by 1 person

  17. Wonderfully uplifting post, Dan – on the order of “no free lunch.” Hateful to hear, but t-totally true. If you have a book and don’t promote it, what are you telling yourself? Not the right vibe to attract readers and sales.
    (Madelyn Griffith-Haynie – ADDandSoMuchMORE dot com)
    ADD/EFD Coach Training Field founder; ADD Coaching co-founder
    “It takes a village to educate a world!”

    Liked by 1 person

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