How to Achieve Publishing Success and Reach Writing Goals

This post is a blogged draft excerpt from The Author Training Manual (Writer’s Digest Books, March 2014). Read the previous blogged excerpt, here.

You need the right attitude to get published.Unlike the Alice Attitude that leaves you wandering around aimlessly, the best attitude to have if you want to train to become an author is an “Author Attitude.” You adopt an Author Attitude every time you put on your new glasses, wear your business hat or evaluate yourself or your book idea from the perspective of a literary agent or acquisitions editor for the purpose of determining how to become a published author.  You may not initially feel you are able to maintain this attitude all the time, but it will become a habit over time.

Why Aspiring Authors Need to Train to Become Published Authors

That’s what training is about. Ballet dancers train, doing the same movement over and over again at the barre so it becomes habit, something they do by rote when they perform. A pianist plays the same music over and over again—even scales, so he can perform effortlessly in a concert. A soccer player kicks the ball into the net thousands of times so that when the ball is at his feet in a game he can do so again. A chief financial officer looks at the company’s income and expenditures over and over again so he knows every aspect of what makes the business run, so that when he must make a decision quickly, he can.

These are habits. It’s been said by some of the top experts in the human potential field that your current habits have helped you achieve only your current level of success. If you want to achieve a new level of success, you must change your habits.  Habits for authors are not just where and when you sit down to write. They are when and how you promote yourself and your work. They are how you evaluate your ideas. They are, as well, the attitudes with which you approach all of these activities.

As an author in training, you must look at your actual attitudes, behaviors, beliefs, and goals, and you must analyze whether they are getting you where you want to go. You must decide if they are serving you. You must set goals—create a map with a clear destination—so you can achieve them. Each small goal gets you closer to the larger one: authorship. Each time you progress along the path, you get closer to the destination.

An Author Attitude Involves Goal Setting

To rid yourself of the Alice Attitude and develop an Author Attitude instead, create a road map to success and work on following it each day. This involves setting goals—markers for how far you want to travel daily, weekly, monthly, and yearly; and exact descriptions of your destination. That’s why you created a clear vision of where you want to finish. It serves as your destination. To get there, you need to know what factors play into your book’s success and your vision of success as an author. Spend time actually writing down your goals and actually visualizing what success as an author would look like if you achieved it. It’s important to consider how success will affect your life—all aspects of it—and what it may be like if you never achieve the success you desire.

In his classic bestseller Think and Grow Rich, Napolean Hill offers six steps for setting and reaching goals. The first is have a specific goal. As you consider what success means to you, get very specific. Think in terms of number of books sold and how much money you will make. Also, think about how much time you will spend traveling, how much time you will work, whether you will need to hire help, and whether you will find partners with whom to work.

Be sure, as Hill suggests, to set a specific time to achieve your goal and write this down. He also suggests having a plan to help you reach your goal. Each step of the proposal process will help you develop that plan, but you may want to come back to Hill’s basic formula over and over again and use it to set goals for each step. Here it is again:

1. Have a specific goal.
2. Have a specific time to achieve your goal.
3. Write down your goal.
4. Develop a plan to achieve your goal.

Of utmost importance are two additional steps in Hill’s goal-achievement formula:

5. Decide what price you are willing to pay.
6. Think about your goal every day.

You should use all six steps, but I’d like to focus on number five. Paying something to reach your goal means that achieving something costs you personally on some level. You might actually have to sacrifice, give up something…like a few hours of television, a vacation, some sleep, time spent reading. Yes, I’m talking about not doing something you enjoy to achieve the goal you desire.

Feeling a bit squeamish? Starting to squirm in your chair? Now is the time the real evaluation of your potential to become an author gets serious.

Are Ready and Willing to Do What it Takes To Become an Author?

The writers who truly want to become successful published authors simply do what it takes to reach their goal. Yes, they set goals. And then they reach them—no matter what. Why? They have determination, perseverance, creativity, and chutzpah. That last word means utter audacity, nearly arrogant courage, over-the-top self-confidence, and unbelievable gall. They will stop at nothing.

Maybe a better question is: How do they reach their goal of becoming successful published authors? They stop at nothing. They find a way. They see obstacles as challenges. They find solutions and answers.

They want to become authors so badly they will not take “no” for an answer. Every rejection is met with the same response. “Next.” They move on. They move forward.

This is part of having an Author Attitude.

I remember after eight years of fiddling around at platform building when I finally decided I simply had to become published. Period. That was in 2009. In 2011, I landed my first traditional publishing deal. I accomplished more in two years than I did in eight. Why? I changed my attitude. I developed an Author Attitude.

How badly do you want to become an author? Will you adopt an Author Attitude?

The Author Training ManualNote: You can read additional blogged draft excerpts from my new book, The Author Training Manual (Writer’s Digest Books, March 2014) here. Only select pieces from the manuscript, a “working draft,” were posted—not the complete manuscript. Read the next post in the The Author Training Manual blogged-book series by clicking here. Purchase the book on, or at

LeaLearn how to become a successful authorrn how to create a successful book—one that sells to publishers and to readers—by developing an AUTHOR ATTITUDE and writing a BUSINESS PLAN for a MARKETABLE BOOK. Register for the AUTHOR TRAINING 101 Home-Study Course, and go from aspiring to successful published author! This course is based on The Author Training Manual. If you like what you’ve read here, you’ll love the course.

Photo courtesy of marekuliasz |


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