Why You Fail

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Your humble host.

Success in authorworld requires you to give more when you think you have nothing left, which is a different limit for all of us. You do it all and you do it all and you do it all – and the question still rings out:


That stuff, whatever it is, is what’s holding you back.

Each day, ask yourself if you did enough to pursue that dream you say you want. Because there are really only three options: Dreamer, Quitter, or Achiever.

I can’t remember who said it, but I think Kelly Abell, said a TON of stuff has to be done and it all adds up a little at a time. That’s why she does book fairs and stuff. Allison Maruska did/does a lot of little advertisements all along for her first book – a constant effort thing, for a looooong time. I’m sure it seemed even longer to her!

There are really only three options:

Dreamer, Quitter, or Achiever.

When I started, I kinda was looking for THE thing. Actually, I knew there wasn’t one thing, but I didn’t think about a hundred being necessary. I looked for the three or four biggies. Most authors do that. I’d hear about this or that and I’d say, “Nah…”

I still do that! Author fair? I didn’t sell any books at the last one! I’m not doing that again… Dang waste of time.

…but other SUCCESSFUL authors do them a lot.


A book signing? Like, get in front of people??? Um…

I remember Sean Connery in The Untouchables talking to Kevin Costner’s character Elliott Ness, and he kept saying “What are you willing to do to get Al Capone?”


The answer is so easy to say, but then comes the writer’s conference, or the book signing. Or scheduling a book signing. Or calling ten book stores to TRY to schedule a book signing and leaving messages for managers who don’t call you back or who say no nine times…

That is what people aren’t willing to do. To call an eleventh.

And call back the first ten.

And call them back again when they don’t call you back.

This is why people get discouraged – and I see it ALL the time because Sales Manager. That’s what I used to do, teach people to be tenacious in achieving their dream.

So you want to do a signing. Well, you don’t WANT to but somebody said you should. So you work up the nerve to go for it after hemming and hawing for a few weeks. You call the one you always go to – or worse, you email. It goes like this:

The manager isn’t there. You leave a message.

WOO HOO, you did it!

They don’t call back.

You never call again.

That’s authors.

Like the top Amazon reviewers! Remember? I think I emailed 100 of them. Most authors would research them for three days, craft a finely honed email to each, and stop after sending three.

I was like, hey wanna review my really cool book?

Boom, boom, boom, boom, boom…

How many did I get, like 5 different ones? And I spent a few hours, tops, on it – but I did a sales volume approach. And one reviewed like 5 of my books. That was really cool!

Fear of rejection kills salespeople. 

It kills authors, too.

What are you willing to do is really what ELSE are you willing to do AFTER you are outside your comfort zone AND feeling very much like you are on unfamiliar territory, AND none of it has seemed to work yet?

THEN what are you willing to do?



Success in authorworld requires you to go into the places you fear, as a writer on the page and as a salesperson peddling your authorness to the world. That’s where you realize it wants more than you think you have left to give.

Today, before your head hits your pillow, ask yourself if you did enough to pursue that dream you say you want. Because there are only three options: Dreamer, Quitter, or Achiever.

But remember:

Achievers were Dreamers first.



36 thoughts on “Why You Fail

  1. Very true. I was a dreamer before an achiever – I always imagined being published in travel magazines and it took years and years but I never gave up. Guess it comes down to perseverence.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I think most people (and let’s be honest, friends of writers) assume anyone who tries something like this on their own will fail. Because most do. If you’re not working a “standard” job that involves answering to someone else, your career choice is seen as one that will ultimately end in failure, because chances are, it will. It has for countless others.

    What this means for us is we have to believe in ourselves and our craft more than anyone else does.

    Liked by 2 people

    • That takes more than writing, too. I know so many people – I bet all of us do – with a notebook full of stories and story ideas, stuff that’s never gonna be seen by anyone besides the author. Hitting that Publish button was too tall of a mountain for them to climb.

      Then there are The Polishers – those who think if they tend to each and every word a tenth and eleventh time it may suddenly become magic. They polish forever and never publish. As long as it’s a work in progress, they aren’t failures.

      Or the folks who think that everything they write is awesome, so they put out a ton of stuff and sell nothing, while they never realize what some editing and a good cover and a blurb designed to get shoppers to become buyers – will do for sales. (That was me for a while there, I admit it. Now I save writers from that abyss.)

      Believing in yourself is hard when you don’t have others encouraging you – others who “matter,” for lack of better phrasing, like readers who aren’t friends/family, and reviewers, and book buyers.

      Liked by 2 people

      • It is hard. Extremely hard. I think that’s why many bail too early. A lot of the “encouragers” don’t jump on board until it looks like the ship will definitely float. That’s why it so important for us (meaning fellow writers) to encourage each other.

        Liked by 2 people

  3. Inspiring! In my writing career I’ve spent 30+ years doing the wrong things (it’s my talent y’know). Now as I start a’fresh at the age 64/65 (which is young for the age bracket-whoopee I’m a 20-something again) I work with the notion I might still not get there, but am going to have a heck of a lot of fun trying {Gallows humour follows……ambition to pass away at the keyboard having typed ‘The End’ (or ‘And the true reason was………’)

    Liked by 2 people

    • I am 71 and my brain refuses to cope with all the promoting and stuff. I would pay someone else to do it for me but cannot afford it. But I love to write, so I am probably destined to be the happiest and oldest failure in the business!

      Liked by 2 people

    • Hey, if it’s not fun, why bother?

      I have a friend in Spain who makes her living writing – living the dream, right? She is unhappy most of the time.Deadlines frustrate her, and worse, she has never put out the novel she intended to write. After 12 or 15 years, she hates her job – one that she intended to love.

      I have another friend in Orlando that also makes her living writing and she LOVES her job. She has written a few books and is finishing her third, while paying the bills writing articles and other things like my friend in Spain. She is sunny and bubbly and a joy to be around.

      A positive attitude plays a big role in enjoying the ride!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Totally agree with this post, Dan. But what do you do if you no longer have the energy, youth or memory, to go any further up the ladder?
    No one has tried harder than us to achieve even a small amount of success, but having to accept it might just be out of our reach. You might say, so far, but no further…
    Not that we intend to stop trying, where would be the fun in that…


    • “Success” is different things to different people, but to most it would be earning a living from writing or becoming a millionaire, stuff like that. Financial.

      I always use the moon landing as an example. To me, they built a rocket and went to the moon, right? There were a few test rockets that blew up, but when they got the rocket right, they just went.

      That’s not what happened, though.

      They built (and accidentally exploded) a LOT of rockets. Finally they figured out how to get one into space without killing the occupants, so the first passenger just went up and came back down alive. The NEXT mission had them build on that and add a space walk. The next one built on all that and added a trip around the moon without a landing. By adding onto each mission, they finally landed astronauts on the moon. But it was a long process of adding skills each time that did it.

      So when it comes to age, the senior writer is not more disadvantaged than a sixteen year old. It SEEMS like younger people deal with technology better, but nobody is born with a smart phone in their hand (and each year a new technology comes along that nobody has ever used before). They learn it just like you can. You’ve already mastered how to blog and comment on other blogs, for example. There was a point in time when you didn’t know how do that. Meanwhile, YOU know a lot about LIFE and love and loss and other experiences that a young writer can only guess at. I’d say your writing has a big advantage there!

      The point isn’t to try to drink from a fire hose or eat three Thanksgiving dinners back to back, but to add to your skill sets one at a time, at your pace. Whether that’s one new technology a month or every six months, you’ll be better off for learning it should you choose to. They aren’t all necessary, by the way; consider it a smorgasbord from which to choose what’s best for you. Maybe that’s a lot, maybe that’s a little.

      I know two 90-year-olds. One is feeble and can’t drive a car any more, and was recently put into a home. The other plays golf three times a week, drives, and took up started taking piano lessons a few years ago. I could never take piano lessons. It boggles my mind a little, staring at all those dots and lines! We’re all different.

      The post above can give the impression that if you don’t do EVERYTHING, you’ll fail. That’s not right. Authors don’t do enough things, though, and they quit to early because they don’t have the support so they don’t know what works and what to stay away from, plus they don’t usually have others to talk to who understand it.

      HERE, we have that. Last month I started learning Goodreads, and this week I’m learning Mail Chimp. I’m getting there fast through friends I made here. I’m writing better books this year partly because of what I learned here last year.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Let’s string some cliches together….you miss all the shots you don’t take…you only fail when you quit trying….fall seven times, get up eight….

    the kicker is that they’re true. Every day is a chance to hit “refresh” and wake up swinging.

    The tricky thing about writing is that it’s, like, part of your soul. So rejection feels much more personal than, say, not getting a good parking space or not winning a road race. Writing isn’t so much what you DO, it’s kinda who you ARE, and that’s why rejection hits harder – it kicks right in the crotch.

    Liked by 1 person

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