Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Predictors of an Author's Success

Want to know how you can tell if an author is going to be successful? It's not their sales figures, or the number of Facebook friends, or Twitter followers, or the number of visits to their blog. Those things measure current success – but what it doesn't tell you is whether they can sustain it, whether they have a career as a writer, or whether they'll create a bestseller one day. The best indicator is to ask an author the following question:

“Where do you see yourself (as an author) in five years?”

If an author hesitates for an answer, or if they've never thought about it before, they probably won't be very successful. It's as simple as that.

It's an interesting phenomenon – because if you ask the same authors what their dreams as an author are, they might talk about making the NY Times Bestseller List, or being on talk shows, or selling a million copies. Yet if you ask them a concrete question about a specific time in the future, they've never thought about it. And that, in a nutshell, is the problem. If you don't have a plan on how you're going to get from point A (where you are now) to point B (where you want to be), you're never going to get there. You'll get frustrated and give up in a few months.

The good news is that it's easy to come up with a plan. Let's say in five years you want to be a NY Times Bestseller – now work backward and ask yourself what you need to do before you can get there:

·         How many books do bestsellers typically sell?

·         How many people on your social networks/email lists would you need to have to reach enough people to sell to that many people? Use your conversion rate right now, and that will give you a rough idea. If you don't know what your conversion rate is, calculate it by dividing the number of people you have by the number of sales you've made through that channel.

·         How can you gain the required number of people on your social media/email lists? How many people do you need to gain every month, every week, every day between now and then?

·         How can you gain enough fans each day to meet that quota?

·         Do you need to do any speaking engagements? How many do you need to do a year?

·         Once you hit a certain number of fans after the first year, how can you leverage those fans to gain more fans or to keep them interested? Contests? Videos? A new book? How about for the second year? The third year?

·         Etc...etc...

You can see that even with this lofty goal, you can begin to create concrete steps for each day, each month, and each year. Once you have it down to daily increments, you'll be surprised how do-able it seems. More importantly, you'll know what you have to do each day to get to your goal. You won't be spending your valuable time trying random marketing tactics and wondering why things aren't working. By the end of your five year plan (or even ten or twenty!), you'll be a lot closer to your dream than you ever thought possible.

Don't be afraid to constantly tweak the plan either – just remember to be honest with yourself, with your time commitments, and with your priorities. The great thing about having a plan is that you can genuinely celebrate small steps, because you can clearly see how it's connected to your ultimate dream. Embrace that, and you'll begin to feel successful today, right now!

Post Created by Tak Shiota, Social Media Consultant

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