11 Things Happy Authors Don’t Do

Some authors are mildly successful but still happy. Some aren’t even published yet, but they’re still content with their journey. Other authors have great success, yet are still pretty unhappy. What makes the difference? How do we avoid behaviors and circumstances that rob us of joy and steal our contentment? Here are a few ideas.

Happy authors don’t…

1 …care more about their sales than their writing.

Of course, everyone wants to sell books. We write because we want people to read what we’ve written. But when you’re spending more time checking your Bookscan reports than working on your latest book, you might be off kilter. When you’re so worried about your royalty reports that you can’t even write, something’s wrong. Keep first things first. Be primarily a writer, a marketer and salesperson after that.

2 …reject the idea of marketing.

Getting people to buy your books takes marketing effort, and you’ll be unhappily swimming against the tide if you don’t accept it. Best to figure out what kinds of book marketing suit you, and focus on those.

3 …feel threatened by the editorial process.

Granted, not all editors do a great job. But the goal of editing is to make your book the very best it can be. So why not embrace it? The best writers learn something from every editing experience, even the bad ones.

4 …believe in writer’s block.

We all occasionally have a bad day at the desk. Sometimes the words just don’t flow. But to chalk it up to writer’s block is to perpetuate it. Instead, take a break. Get some exercise. Do other kinds of creative work. Do free writing. Use writing prompts available online or in writing magazines. And get back to work. Don’t be afraid to write some really bad pages – it happens! At least you’re writing.

5 …refuse to study the craft of writing.

The best writers are always learning and consciously improving. You can take classes or writing workshops. You can participate in a critique group. You can read books about writing. Perhaps the most valuable yet under-utilized way to learn is to do your own in-depth analysis of a favorite writer’s prose so you can understand why it works. Never stop studying your craft.

6 …believe everything their friends tell them.

Information about publishing flies fast and furious out there, and so does misinformation. Check your sources. Get multiple opinions. Understand that everyone is biased. Ask a lot of questions and stay well-informed.

7 …think the publishing industry is a vast conspiracy designed to keep them out.

This frame of mind is a recipe for bitterness. It’s not true – no one’s goal is to keep you out. But if you hold this view, you probably don’t believe me anyway.

8 …expect that being published will be completely life-changing.

Fulfilling a big dream is a wonderful milestone, and it’s possible that some areas of your life will be different.  Reaching that goal will feel GREAT. But you’ll still be the same person. Your friends and family probably won’t like or respect you more. And you’ll still always get into the slowest line at the supermarket.

9 …complain about how hard it is to be a writer.

When you’re tempted to whine, think about the really hard jobs. Oil rig workers. Dairy farmers. Parents. Then count your blessings and write some words.

10 …allow themselves to be derailed by rejection and disappointment.

Every worthwhile pursuit will have setbacks. Contentment (not to mention success) depends on the ability to bounce back.

11 …spend too much time in comparison.

You already know how toxic it is to compare yourself to other writers. Your journey is your own. You’ll always be able to find people better than you, and people worse than you, so what’s the point? Comparison is the best way to take the joy out of your journey.

What keeps you a “happy” author?


If you should decide to invest in some personalized counsel, I offer coaching for unpublished authors here: My Coaching Services


Photo credit: https://unsplash.com/photos/2cdzDZ90M90

Rachelle Gardner

Literary agent at Gardner Literary. Coffee & wine enthusiast (not at the same time) and dark chocolate connoisseur. I've worked in publishing since 1995 and I love talking about books!


  1. RAHUL TANWAR on April 7, 2020 at 3:42 AM

    Beautiful blog RACHELLE GARDNER. I love reading your blogs. Nice lines with great consideration. Thanking you for sharing . I have also written a few lines about my services, kindly read at https://bhadotri.com/courier-charges-for-kathmandu/

  2. Connie Keller on April 2, 2020 at 8:28 AM

    Great reminders. Thank you!

  3. Cherry Odelberg on April 2, 2020 at 8:20 AM

    What keeps me happy? One, Four and Eight.

  4. Cherry Odelberg on April 2, 2020 at 8:19 AM

    One, Four and Eight!!!!

  5. kimberly anne Muli on September 23, 2013 at 3:27 PM

    How i love reading your blogs. its all about life and motivation :))

    i wanna share this to you guys 🙂 click the link ^^ hope you will motivate as well.




  6. Monday Must-Reads [9/2/13] - YESENIA VARGAS on September 4, 2013 at 11:24 PM

    […] Happy Authors Don’t Do These Things! – Rachelle Gardner […]

  7. Peter DeHaan on August 29, 2013 at 8:29 PM

    Okay, I’m good with these three. Now to check out the rest…

  8. Cherry Odelberg on August 29, 2013 at 10:04 AM

    Yep! I’ll just take this short version and run with it.

  9. Joe Kovacs on August 28, 2013 at 10:25 PM

    These are all great points. I think what keeps me happy as a writer is that I belong to a fantastic community of fellow writers. I joined the group in Denver back in 2009. After I moved east in 2010, we all figured I might just go my own way. But through dedicated email and social media correspondence, my participation in that group has been as strong and as prosperous as ever. I think with all the challenges that writers face (including those pitfalls you mentioned in your blog post), it is important to belong to a strong, supportive community, no matter where you find those people.