Six Easy Steps to Publishing Success

Success in publishing is actually quite simple. Honestly I am surprised more people aren’t more successful financially as an author. So many conference workshops are making this entire publishing thing far more complicated than it needs to be.

Today, here are six fast, easy, no risk steps to being a successful author in any type of writing. We will all be shaking our heads at the end for missing these simple actions.

I also want to apologize on behalf of this agency for making success at publishing sound difficult and complicated.  We have been misleading you for a long time and this blog post today is about to set the record straight.

So, here are six fast, easy, no risk steps to being a successful author:

  1. Quit your day job today and live off your savings for the three weeks necessary to accomplish steps 2-6.
  2. Become a good writer while writing your first book. (Ten days max.)
  3. Establish your author platform (Three days.)
  4. Develop a creative voice and style like none other to stun and create awe in the hearts of readers. (Two days.)
  5. Get an agent. (Another two days.)
  6. Get published and start making money (Four days.)

I almost feel embarrassed we haven’t covered this earlier. Of course, we have a vested interest as agents to make it sound more difficult than it really is, to justify our jobs and careers. But now, the cat is out the bag.

Yes, this was written tongue-in-cheek (keyboard-in-cheek?). If career success at writing were easy, then anyone could do it and of course, everyone cannot do this.

In fact, the six steps above happen approximately in years, not days. Ten years (or more) to work on writing, several years each on platform building, style development, getting an agent and getting published.

Even success at self-publishing, while skipping some of the steps, requires working on the craft, the platform and years of marketing yourself through the platform.

By the way, if you think author platform is important only for the traditional publishers, just try to be successful at self-publishing without it. Your opinion will change in a hurry when sales of your book don’t meet expectations because your book goes unnoticed amidst the avalanche of new books from traditional and other self-published authors.

About two thousand new books release every day in the US, including weekends. (Traditional and self-published combined.)

Really, it is pretty easy to be published. But it is very difficult to be published well.

Those two things, being published and being published well are often entirely different paths.

So you want a quick list of things on becoming a successful author? Things that don’t take years? Try this list on for size:

  1. Care deeply about what you write, but not so deeply you reject editing or suggestions.
  2. Treat deadlines as important, even those self-imposed. They aren’t set just for fun. Deadlines make things happen.
  3. Recommend books to others, which are not written by you. They’ll believe you more when you tell them about your new book.
  4. Care about other people more than yourself…or a copy of your new book.
  5. Give courage to other aspiring authors. Courage is currency given one to another. (Where do you think “encourage” came from?)
  6. Decide how you want to be remembered. Conduct yourself accordingly.

I’ve always liked lists. Making them, reading them, using them or having fun with them.  And sometimes they may even make me think.

17 Responses to Six Easy Steps to Publishing Success

  1. Damon J. Gray November 7, 2017 at 4:25 am #

    Dan, like you, I’m a “list guy.” This is true to such an extent that I have been rumored to have put items onto my list simply for the pleasure of crossing them off. I deny that rumor, of course.

    Unlike you, I am not a deadline guy, and this is far from the first time you have exhorted us to establish deadlines. Ugh!!! I have a task on my list, something I agreed to do clear back in March of this year, and it sits unaccomplished. So, I am going to commit to establishing a deadline for establishing a deadline. It is not 3:20 AM, so by 6:00, I will establish a deadline for completing the task my friend persuaded me to take on.

    It makes me squirm just thinking about it … 😉

    • Marlene Worrall November 7, 2017 at 12:55 pm #


      Thank-you for sharing your wisdom with us!

      It was great to meet you at Maranatha.

      Have a fabulous day!

  2. Karen Saari November 7, 2017 at 5:45 am #

    You are right, I didn’t know it was so easy! (face smack) I’ve been wasting time for sure. I could have been a successful author years ago if I’d followed your advice. I’m so excited now!

    Oh, I have to finish reading the post, you probably have even more great advice for us. Instant success! Yes!

  3. Loretta Eidson November 7, 2017 at 6:38 am #

    Some great reminders here! I know only too well that two days defines into eight to ten years. But I also know that persistence and maintaining a teachable attitude are keys to publishing success.

  4. Susan Mary Malone November 7, 2017 at 7:31 am #

    Thank you, Dan! I’m always so upfront with my writers, but coming in, they have a tough time believing 🙂 Helps when it comes from an agent!
    Enjoyable and funny too!

  5. Andrew Budek-Schmeisser November 7, 2017 at 7:52 am #

    Well, Dan, I didn’t have to learn my craft. I was BORN a Great Writer. So I’m ten days ahead, right!

    On platform building, I’d add two thing, if I may. They might be quite obvious, but were not so for me.

    1) Try to find an audience that does a lot of sharing. Hashtags are useful, but to get an exponential rise in followers you have to only to ride trends, you have to reach those people whose idea of engagement includes passing on what they like. Obviously, your content has to be relevant, but even tangential relevance can be worth sharing, because it’s a mindset more than a specificity of purpose. I’ve noticed that homeschoolers and budget shoppers do a lot of sharing; are there other groups anyone might suggest? (And as for actually reaching them, that you do the old-fashioned way – hashtags and following.)

    2) Make your content worth sharing. or a blog post, for instance, link it to a meme with a nice picture, and wording that gives a quick summary of the content.

    3) Be loyal to your core, and to the fact that when you were starting out they chose you for the words you wrote.

  6. Richard Mabry November 7, 2017 at 7:52 am #

    Dan, excellent advice (the second list, not the first). Shakespeare talked about climbing the ladder to success and “scorning the base degrees by which (we) did ascend.” One of the first things that struck me when I got on this road to writing was how members of the Christian writing community were willing to help other authors. Thanks for sharing.

  7. Sharon Cowen November 7, 2017 at 8:25 am #

    Thank you for this post, Dan. It’s beautifully written. Your comments on the actual length of the process were surprisingly encouraging to me, because I’ve only been at this for six years, so it now seems ok to me that I haven’t succeeded yet. Thank you for the peace of mind!

  8. Deb November 7, 2017 at 8:42 am #

    This post is like putting on your glasses and then realizing your vision has somehow become all cattywonkus along the way. Thanks.

  9. Carol Ashby November 7, 2017 at 12:02 pm #

    I really like number one, Dan: care deeply about what you write. I’m passionate about the message in my writing, but I’d be a fool not to seek input from others on the detailed execution that gets that message out. My beta readers, critique partner, and paid editor help me make anything I start so much better after I fold in their input.

    If anyone wants the name of a superb editor with all the technical skills you’d want plus deep spiritual insight that helps me strengthen the scenes where a character is wrestling with decisions about faith, contact me through my website. Do I have a name for you!! (She’s also a blast to work with.)

  10. Robin E. Mason November 7, 2017 at 12:43 pm #

    but… but… i like the first list better!! then again, by that list i’m WAY behind schedule (am writing book #6 as we, er, speak… )
    good post, Dan, thanks for putting emphasis on what it’s really like and what’s truly important as a writer!
    fav bit, the difference between being published and being published well, work with excellence!!

  11. Sheri Dean Parmelee, Ph.D November 7, 2017 at 1:58 pm #

    Whew, there was some heavy stuff there, Dan, until you got to the end. I am a deadline kinda gal and could really appreciate what you said.

  12. Joanne Reese November 7, 2017 at 3:32 pm #

    This has been such an affirming post, Dan. While I may have wished for the shortcut years ago, I can see now that I would have missed out on the relationships that have been built through networking, not to mention the character growth God needed to take care of in the slow cooker. I want my writing and my heart to come out tender, so that my words will impact my reader. Enrichment awaits those of us who trust God’s egg timer, and refuse to give up.

  13. Edward Lane November 7, 2017 at 9:06 pm #

    That’s pretty funny, Dan! Just takes a few days longer than it took God to create the universe!

  14. Edna Davidsen November 8, 2017 at 9:45 am #

    Dear Dan

    Today I read your blog post “Six Easy Steps to Publishing Success” with interest.

    I admit I was confused while reading the first couple of lines – until I realised the point!

    I love blog posts like this one where the readers get the facts right.

    Many of the blog post about how to make money try to sell people a fantasy that most readers only realise was a fantasy when it’s too late.

    The six points at the end of your blog post are excellent.

    I’ll share on Social Media Thursday, November 16.

    Edna Davidsen

  15. Bob Bekins December 11, 2017 at 10:13 am #

    When I wrote my first novel I thought I was listening to the Lord. Perhaps I was but the results differed from my expected outcome. I quit my high paying job, went to UCSD classes to learn my craft, and three writers conferences to learn how the business worked that first year. Five re-writes and 373,169 words later it was rejected by 91 agents and editors. For another year I prayed, “Why Lord did you have me go through all that?” Finally He responded, “Maybe I only wanted one person to read it.” My big aha had happened as I realized that I am only here to do His work. Six more ebooks and 200 weekly articles later I am still writing for one person at a time as He wishes, though they are read by more than one. I love it and it feels like a complete success. Love your work Dan.

    Some of mine is at and my blog at

  16. Chad Hollins December 27, 2017 at 12:35 pm #

    I loved what you said platform, I’ve been working on mine for a book I have coming out on Easter,, can you take a look and tell me what you think?

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