The Secret to Success

I’ve had more than the usual amount of fan email lately from new authors asking what the secret to success is in publishing.  A lot of people think there’s no secret.  They’re wrong.  There is a secret, and it’s one nobody likes.

Work harder than the next guy.

It’s that easy.

This industry is tough.  An author has no control over who is going to love, like, or hate her book.  From an editor to a publisher to a reader to a reviewer…there’s no control.  I learned very early on from two reviews that were published within a minute of each other that the very element in my book that one reviewer loved, the other hated. It was the EXACT same thing.  That’s very freeing.

We have no control of what retailer is going to push our book.  Sure, a plan from a great publisher or an opportunity for a self-publisher really helps here. But as the author, I have no control if my book will be up for a promotion or if my application will be accepted.

You know what I can control?

The writing.  How hard I work.  That’s it. Somebody may be a better writer than I am.  Somebody may be more talented.  Somebody may have better marketing or opportunities.

Nobody can outwork me.

It irritates me beyond belief when I hear anybody discount somebody else’s success.  I can’t tell you how often I’ve heard,  “Well, she’s smart.”  Or “Well, his publisher markets him.  I don’t have that.”  Or.  “Things come easy to her.”

Or the absolute worst:  “I wish I had time to write a book.”


I’ve met some exceptionally successful authors in this business, and one thing every single one of them has in common is that they’ve worked their butts off.  When other people have gone bar hopping at conferences, they’ve taken a workshop on craft or gone up to their hotel room to write in order to hit a deadline.

When other people have taken months off to prepare to write, they’ve pushed through and worked through adversity. When others have organized their offices to keep from writing, they’ve sat their butts in the chair and typed.

I have a friend who has typed with one hand while in the hospital.  You know what?  She has hit numbers on bestseller lists that we all want.

Books are going to flop.  Money is going to slow.  Doubt sets in.  The people who make it in this business go back to the computer and keep working. They don’t give up.  They fall down ten times and get up eleven.

My first book released in March of 2011, and my 40th release just happened this past June.  (31 full length books and 10 novellas).  I’ve missed out on fun.  I really have.  I’ve missed out on days at the lake, parties with friends, and vacation opportunities. So I could write.  I’ve done my best with family, and both of my kids know how to do their own laundry and cook.  Sometimes I feel bad about that.  Other times, I hope that they see how hard work, well, works.

I’ve always believed, and I still do, that money follows passion.  If you find what you love to do, the money will follow.

But the hard work has to come first.

It really is that simple.

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4 thoughts on “The Secret to Success”

  1. Jennifer says:

    I have loved all your books. I especially appreciate the different character types in different series. Love scenes seem to be the hardest to write differently across series and characters but I find you Have worked hard to make me want to read yours when other authors seem to almost cut and paste and within every series the characters all say the same things and always have “butterflies take wing” in their stomach. Nothing wrong with that unless it happens many times in every book. Thanks for writing and working your brain. I enjoy your books!

    1. Rebecca Zanetti says:

      Thanks so much!

  2. Catherine Pawsey says:

    I am going to print this off and put it on the wall above my desk, thank you.

  3. Edith says:

    Great blog and a lovely smack down! Writing is HARD work.
    Just finished Hero’s Haven. Loved it.
    Thank you.