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Indie bestseller Joe Konrath recently suggested that even if you do all the right things to become a career author, you’ll still need luck to succeed. Nobody likes to hear that they could spend hundreds to thousands of hours on multiple difficult projects and still fall well below the bar. We agree that luck is a key component to a successful book business, but we also think it’s very possible to manufacture your own luck.
You can’t guarantee luck, but you can focus your attention on the things that are within your control. When you spend your time on the following six tactics, you’ll be much more likely to see a “lucky break” come your way:
1. Choose Your Genre Wisely
Of course, you should write what’s in your heart. If your dream has always been to write children’s books about dental hygiene, go to town. When you’re looking to have good fortune as an indie author, however, you need to remember that some genres just sell better than others.
Are we saying to drop everything and write the next steamy romance? No, but you should try to find a compromise between your dream story and something that more people will buy. Most people in this business want to become better writers, and writing in a new genre is one of the best ways to accomplish that. Additionally, you may find out things about the genre that excite you in new creative ways.
Once you’ve picked a genre, stick with it for a while. Authors who create multiple books in a series tend to have more luck than those who write a standalone and move on.
2. Write Faster
The more you write, the more pieces of work you have out there in the world. When you have more books, you’re more likely to have one that succeeds. Traditionally published authors like Stephen King and Suzanne Collins, as well as indy authors like Hugh Howey found their greatest success with books that weren’t the first thing they’d ever written.
As you write more words every day, you’ll get better at your craft and your chances of luck will improve dramatically. Push beyond your boundaries to get from a few hundred words a day to several thousand. Books like Rachel Aaron’s 2k to 10k and Monica Leonelle’s Write Better, Faster have some great tips to get your word count up even with a limited number of hours available.
3. Market Harder
The luckiest authors spend significant time on marketing. One rule of thumb says your author business should consist of five parts of marketing for every one part of marketing. We’re not sure if you need to go that extreme, but you still need to make marketing a major priority.
If you’ve put hundreds of hours into a book, then you need to go out there and tell people about it. The instances in which a self-published author with no website or online presence has had major success are few and far between. Spend time on your marketing every day, because you’re more likely to be discovered if your book is in front of someone’s eyes than if it’s at the bottom of a pile.
4. Meet More People
Networking matters. The more people you know, the better chances you have of making a connection with someone who can improve your career. You need to put yourself out there online and at conferences to grow your network. Connect with big-time authors to offer them your help and to learn the ins and outs of the trade. Meet merchandizers from self-publishing retailers to help get your book featured.
It’s not always what you do. Sometimes it’s who you know, and that’s why you’ve gotta get out there and meet people.
5. Build Your Mailing List
We will beat the “build your mailing list” drum until everybody out there has finally listened to us. Email marketing is still the most effective way to connect with your readers. If you’re having a hard time choosing what to spend your daily marketing time on, look no further than growing your mailing list.
The next time you chat with a “lucky” author, ask her how many email addresses she has on her list. It’s likely she’ll have a five-figure number to share with you. You can be as lucky as she is if you work just as hard to build your list to that size.
6. Never Give Up
Luck doesn’t owe you anything, and it may elude you through years of hard work. You need to keep going. You’re going to have rejections along the way and you’ll have books that absolutely flop. Don’t stop writing and don’t stop marketing. The only thing that can completely extinguish your chances of luck is quitting. Never quit and you’ll already have more luck than the other authors who gave up.
Some People Are Luckier Than Others
More often than not, the luckiest authors are the ones who worked the hardest. There’s no such thing as an overnight success. Luck is always going to be a part of things. It can feel like a lottery at times, but you’re never going to win the grand prize unless you buy some tickets.