It takes ten years to become an overnight success ...
Excerpted from my ebook, The Good Author MBA Starter Kit: an insider’s guide to long-term publishing success: Mindset. Brand. Attitude.
“All overnight success takes about 10 years.” — Jeff Bezos, founder of Amazon
FOR THE LAST 20 YEARS, I’ve been a book publicist. I’ve worked with #1 New York Times bestselling authors, first-time authors, aspiring authors, and everything in between. I’ve booked authors on some of the most popular media outlets in the U.S., including Oprah’s Super Soul Sunday, The Ellen DeGeneres Show, The New York Times, NPR, Bloomberg, Forbes, CNN, AARP Magazine, Reader’s Digest, etc. My primary experience has been with nonfiction authors in the self-help space, including mind/body/spirit, health and wellness, business, psychology, and some memoirs. Of the hundreds of authors I’ve worked with, I’ve noticed several things that set apart those who are just “releasing a book” from those building careers as authors.
If you’re reading this, you’ve likely wondered why it seems like, for some authors, things come so easily. They write a new book, land on all the national T.V. shows and glossy magazines, and sit on the bestsellers’ lists for weeks, months, or even years.
Meanwhile, you feel like the C-list author waiting in line for the most exclusive club, watching all the popular authors skip past the bouncer and enter through a side door to success. They’re inside dancing and celebrating while you’re out there pounding the pavement, knocking on doors, and still feeling like an outsider at the year’s biggest party.
Photo: Patrik Giardino/Corbis
Or, maybe you’re new to this whole publishing game and want to put your best foot forward as you go out there with your new baby—your first book.
Publishing has many secrets, and many people don’t want to give away the secret sauce. But I believe in abundance—meaning there’s more than enough attention to go around! In my ebook, I teach you the essential foundational tools you need to become a Good Author—that is, one who’s set up for a career as an author.
Why am I doing this, you might ask? Well, it makes publishing professionals’ jobs easier when an author comes to the table prepared, educated in the process, and with the right goals in mind. Authors usually have to spend years struggling and learning by trial and error before they know the tools I’m giving away – it’s like a fast pass to the front of the line so we can all get to the fun part: putting great work out into the world.
The Good Author MBA = MINDSET. BRAND. ATTITUDE.
The Good Author takes the long view - the very long view.
Publishing a book isn’t something that happens overnight— or shouldn’t be. It’s more like one marathon after another. Writing a book is just the start (which could take years), then there’s producing the book (editing, design, print, distribution, marketing, and promoting, and of course, selling). You might finish your manuscript and feel like you want to sleep for a month; then, someone from the next phase (editing or design) grabs you by the shoulders and escorts you to the front of their line. Becoming an author is an exhausting accomplishment not meant for the weak. It will likely test you in many ways, but hopefully, it will be one of the most rewarding steps in your career. Just brace yourself for the long haul!
10 YEARS IS A THEME
Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon, once said, “All overnight success takes about ten years.” And my former publishing company boss also told new authors, “It takes ten years to become an overnight success.” (That scared some but was a relief to others.)
More often than not, new authors see the success of others in the limelight and only know about what they’ve done recently to get media attention. They don’t realize the blood, sweat, and tears that likely went into that moment in the spotlight. When you look a little deeper, you’ll find that they’ve been working toward that moment for years—often 10—by serving their audiences. Unless you’ve survived some miraculous life-altering event, or unless you’re already a celebrity (which likely took at least ten years to become), get into the right mindset by taking the long view when it comes to releasing a book. Look at a decade broken down into smaller increments of years, not months or weeks.
BEHIND THE BESTSELLER TRUTH
I was fortunate enough to work with Dr. Wayne Dyer, referred to as “The Godfather of Motivation” and one of the bestselling authors of all time, with an estimated 100 million copies sold of just his first book, Your Erroneous Zones. People often only saw the results of his success once he was a regular guest on Oprah, Ellen, PBS, and so on. What they didn’t realize is the grassroots approach he took to his author career, relentlessly pursuing bookstore appearances, group lectures, and media appearances to anyone who’d listen; selling books out of the back of his station wagon; and making bestseller lists before the publishing industry even took notice.
THE GOOD AUTHOR TAKEAWAY
The Good Author looks at their book’s publication date as an important milestone for many reasons: it’s a “launch date,” a point of liftoff, and the focus of tons of preparation, but it’s only the beginning of an author‘s journey that could last for many, many more years, or even a lifetime. Maintain a mindset focused on the long game, and you’ll begin to measure success in milestones, not moments.