Want to know how to be a famous author? Achieving commercial success as an author has a lot to do with your book, but it also has a lot to do with YOU. That’s because your book is an “extension” of you.
In other words, who you are as a person directly impacts the quality of your work as an author.
Want to know how to be a famous author?
Read this article…
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How to Be a Famous Author
Over the last 15+ years I’ve met with thousands of authors 1-on-1 (yes, thousands) as a former book agent and President/Owner of a well-known literary agency, Marketing & Licensing Manager of a well-known publisher, and Book Marketing Consultant.
Sometimes those “meetings” were 1-on-1 coaching sessions in-person, by phone, or Skype. Other times they were more formal “pitch sessions” at writers’ conferences. And, other times, they were much more casual discussions over drinks, meals, etc.
As you can imagine, that kind of experience has taught me a few things about authors. One of the things I’ve learned is that some authors are more “open” to feedback than others. Many authors think they’re coachable, but they’re not. It’s critical that you see the sometimes subtle differences below. Being uncoachable could prevent you from getting an agent and/or publisher (not to mention friends). 😉
So, let’s see how “coachable” you are.
On a scale of 0 (least) to 10 (most) how open are you to feedback from others that could help you improve your book? 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, or 10? I can’t imagine anyone saying they’re less than a 5. It’s human nature. No one wants to be in the bottom tier of anything.
But that can’t be right.
If you know about the law of averages and bell curves (or you simply have common sense), you know that some people are going to be a 0, 1, 2, 3, or 4.
Maybe you’re right.
And I hope you’re right.
To find out, check out my ten “Coachability Indicators” below and find out how coachable you really are. Give yourself one point for each indicator that applies to you.
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How to Be a Famous Author – Coachability Indicators
- You Understand (and Value) Collaboration – How to Be a Famous Author
Although you might be a brilliant author (and I hope you are), do you understand that there are other brilliant authors in the world (as well as coaches, agents, editors, and publishers) that can understand your work and help you make it better? Do you realize that’s how good books (and most good things) are made great? If you agree wholeheartedly, give yourself a point.
- You Actively Seek Feedback – How to Be a Famous Author
It’s one thing to say you’re coachable and open to feedback; it’s something else entirely to actually take action and go out of your way to get feedback. If you’ve gone out of your way to get feedback on your book or book idea in the last 6 months (from someone qualified to give you valuable, honest, no-holds-barred feedback) give yourself a point (friends, family members, unpublished authors who want to be published, and strangers don’t count).
- You Don’t Multi-Task When You’re Getting Feedback – How to Be a Famous Author
When you really value another person’s time and ideas, you give them your undivided attention. You’re not texting, checking email, driving your car, walking your dog, eating a meal, or going to the bathroom at the same time. I’ve had people tell me they were doing all of those things during 1-on-1 coaching sessions with me (after I told them it didn’t seem like they were fully present). Yes, I know that you can probably do two or more things at once… but that doesn’t mean you should. If you go to great lengths to make the people giving you feedback feel like they’re the only thing that matters in the world when they’re talking to you, give yourself a point.
- You Listen – How to Be a Famous Author
Listening is more than just being silent. If you’re really listening to someone, you’re fully focused on what they’re saying and your #1 goal is trying to understand what the person means. If all you’re doing is being quiet, waiting for the other person to stop talking so you can get your point across, that’s not listening. That’s pretending to listen. Yes, you might be “hearing” the sound of the person’s voice, and some of the words coming out of their mouth, but you’re not listening. If people tell you on a regular basis that you’re a good listener and they feel like you really “get them” as a result, give yourself a point.
- You Don’t Interrupt – How to Be a Famous Author
If you’re interrupt people while they’re trying to give you feedback, you’re not listening. You’re also not respecting them and what they’re trying to tell you. Do you always wait your turn to speak when getting feedback? If so, give yourself a point.
- You Repeat Things – How to Be a Famous Author
When someone is giving you feedback, do you repeat some of the things they’re saying back to them, to make sure you’re understanding them correctly? You might repeat what the person said verbatim (exactly). Or, even better, you might paraphrase what the person said by saying the same thing with different words. That makes it even more likely you’ll get the gist of what the person is trying to communicate. If you frequently repeat things back to the people giving you feedback, to make sure you’re “getting it,” give yourself a point.
- You Ask Clarification Questions – How to Be a Famous Author
When someone gives you feedback about your writing, what do you do first? Do you “get defensive” and immediately explain why you did what you did. Or, do you ask the person to elaborate… give you more details about what they’re thinking and/or feeling? If you’re the type of person that (9 times out of 10) asks questions first, instead of defending your position, give yourself a point.
- You Trust – How to Be a Famous Author
If you believe that the feedback you’re about to get from someone is going to be valuable, you’re coachable. If you’re mostly nervous or skeptical about the feedback you’re going to get, you’re not coachable. Now, I’m not saying you should be 100% trusting of everyone all the time; I am saying you should be more relaxed than nervous, especially if the person you’re about to get feedback from is qualified to give you feedback. I know this can be difficult, especially if you’ve been “burned” by someone else in the past. But the more you can trust the person giving you feedback, the more you’ll get out of it. If you always give qualified people your trust (the benefit of the doubt) going into discussions about your work, give yourself a point.
- You’re Professional – How to Be a Famous Author
It’s normal to feel vulnerable, hurt, or even angry when someone critiques you or your work. After all, the person giving you feedback doesn’t know everything you know (they can’t possibly see the whole picture). And yet, they’re making what might seem like “snap judgments.” When you find yourself feeling frustrated about this, what do you do? Do you cry in front of the person? Do you take an emotional dump on the person who’s trying to help you? Do you lash out by raising your voice, getting snippy, using profanity, insulting the person, challenging their ability, or questioning their intentions? If you keep it calm and professional when qualified people start giving you suggestions, or challenging some of the decisions you’ve made as an author, give yourself a point.
- You Take Time to Respond – How to Be a Famous Author
Sometimes, after you listen carefully to feedback, you might still disagree with the other person’s perspective. That’s normal, but how do you respond when that happens? Do you discount the person’s opinion and/or tell them they’re wrong? Or, do you tell the person you want to stay open, so you’d like to take more time to think about what they said? If that’s something you say to people, give yourself a point in this area.
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Calculating Your Results – How to Be a Famous Author
So, how’d you do?
Add up all your points.
How many did you get???
Don’t feel bad if you’re not a 10, 9, 8, or 7.
Or even a 6 or 5…
Being coachable isn’t easy, but it is important.
By the way, of course you should disagree with people giving you feedback from time to time. I’m not telling you to be a yes-(w0)man or a doormat. Express yourself. Just make sure you listen (and I mean really listen), first. The people giving you feedback might be just as sensitive as you. They might have big egos, and little time. And I can guarantee you they don’t want to “fight” for the right to help you (even if you’re paying them).
So, do your best to be coachable. Otherwise, the people trying to help you will start to pull back. Their enthusiasm will start to wane.
And they’ll start giving you less feedback.
Yes, getting feedback can be difficult.
But I promise you this…
Not getting published is worse.
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Your “Undercover” Agent
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Hello Mark, Great article. Being able to listen, understand, and then apply others wisdom is a must if we want to grow in the knowledge of our craft. Understanding that no one person has all the answers, helps us see others with a more experienced eye or insight, are worthy of our time, trust and professionalism. You can’t grow if you don’t know how to let go. Hey Mark I have a question for you. Is paying for a manuscript critique a good or bad thing? If good,How do you know which one is fair
Thank you Roland… and when it comes to paying for a manuscript critique… it can be a good thing. I’ll talk to you about it during our next call. 😉
Have a great weekend!
The Bestselling Author
Literary Agent Undercover