The Surprising Success Secret to Making it Big as a Writer

15 percent of your success comes from your technical skill. The other 85% comes from how well you deal with people.

Do you know the most powerful success secret to making it big as a writer?

Is it:

  • Natural talent?
  • An English degree?
  • How many awards you’ve won?

Dale Carnegie said this back in 1937:

15 percent of your success comes from your technical skill. The other 85% comes from how well you deal with people.

If you think

that’s outdated, check this out.

Google did a survey of managers in 2009 called Project Oxygen. The researchers wanted to know:

  • if managers matter
  • if so, then why do they matter
  • what skills are responsible for their success

Here are so

me of those skills:

  1. Be a good coach.
  2. Empower; don’t micromanage.
  3. Be interested in direct reports, success and well-being.
  4. Don’t be a sissy: Be productive and results-oriented.
  5. Be a good communicator and listen to your team.
  6. Help your employees with career development.
  7. Have a clear vision and strategy for the team.
  8. Have key technical skills so you can advise the team.

Do you see a theme running through these?

Every one of these skills involves dealing with people.

“Your success as a writer depends more on your people skills than your talent.”  Frank McKinley

Success Secret #1 – You need other people.

Success doesn’t depend much on genius. It does depend heavily on how well you know and relate to other people.

Here are some quick and easy ways to supercharge your human relations IQ.

  • Be courteous. Say thank you when others do you a favor.
  • Do favors for other people. Don’t come asking first. Give if you want to receive.
  • Ask for what you want – and frame it so the other person comes out a winner.

The bottom line is this: treat people as well or better than you want them to treat you. When you do this, you’ll set the standard for how you’re treated.

Success Secret #2 – Don’t wait for people to come to you.

Four years ago, my son and I visited a new church.

Here’s how I got him ready.

“Drew, there are probably a lot of nice people in there. Some of them may come up to you and introduce themselves. But there’s no guarantee of that. Don’t wait around. You introduce yourself to people first and good things will happen.”

I thought he’d just nod his head and do nothing.

Before I even got a seat, Drew introduced me to 4 or 5 people he’d already met!

After church, the same thing happened.

If you want friends, be one. Make the first move. Invite people to chat, spend time with you, and work together. You’ll be amazed at what might happen!

Here’s what happened when I made the first move this year:

  • I’ve done 5 expert interviews
  • I’ve been invited to speak on a webinar and a podcast
  • I have written for two other blogs
  • I’ll be doing a Q&A this fall at the popular Tribe Conference

If you want things to happen, do what my friend Anne Peterson told me:

Always be networking.

Success Secret #3 – Always give people a reason to continue with you.

If you struggle with making people connections, let me recommend a book I’m reading called the Improv Manifesto.

If you’ve ever seen the show Whose Line is it Anyway, you’ve seen improv at its best. I’m not asking you to become a standup comedian. Neither am I asking you to become an actor. The point is there is a lot you can learn from this acting if you want to succeed as a writer.

Here are a few takeaways:

  • Make offers. In other words, give them a reason to say or do something. Think in terms of what they want, not what you want.
  • Start off strong. The first impression you make will last, so make it count.
  • Go for it. Reach out and make that connection now. Do the best you can and remember you’ve got nothing to lose.

“You’ll get what you want when you ask for it.”

Frank McKinley

Now Do This

This week set a networking goal.

Here are some suggestions.

  • Contact an expert and ask for an interview.
  • Do a book review and send a Tweet to the author.
  • Offer to write about something your favorite Blogger’s audience needs but hasn’t gotten yet.

“You can get everything in life you want when you help enough other people get what they want.” – Zig Ziglar

Have a fantastic week! I can’t wait to hear how this works for you.

  • Share your story in the comments.
  • Feel free to ask me for help if you’re getting stuck.
  • Want more tips? Subscribe for a new one every week!
Frank McKinley
I help writers engage readers, sell their ideas, and build their tribes.

My Writing, My Novel

I am a proud Granddad with five grandchildren who wrap me around their fingers.

I think, like a lot of people, I always thought that I would love to write a novel. It eventually happened, although I did wait until I was in my fifties to make it happen. I don’t know where I got the idea from to write a Fictional Story based on Historic events, it just seemed to pop into my head. It took a little bit of research but that wasn’t a problem as you might expect the World Wide Web is full of information about the Ripper. The story grew as I got more into the plot, I used to dictate the story in my head when driving or traveling on public transport. The funniest thing was that I actually thought the ending two thirds into writing the novel and had the final chapter written early. I was always desperate to get to a PC and type in my commuting thoughts, it led to a lot of Proofreading and a great many punctuation errors, but I did not mind this one bit as long as I got my thoughts down on paper or in this case my PC Word Document

I suppose the inspiration to write my novel came from the publication of my poetry book, after years of writing the odd poem here and there and losing some in the process, I decided to self-publish. It was a great feeling seeing my poetry book on the Amazon Website. The feeling grew when the novel appeared about 20 months later. I cannot express enough my gratitude for all the help I have received in the publishing of my book from my publisher, from the very first consultation to the finished article the team have constantly kept me up to date on the progress and have been extremely helpful and quick to respond to my many questions with a very professional and friendly approach.

My Poetry Book

This book sums up me up I think , it has lots of humorous poems .Lots of poems have been developed from jokes that I knew back in my young days. There are views on Life in the present day and from the past, Romantic ones wrote from the heart. I write when I’m inspired, sadly I have misplaced quite a few of the poems that I have written over the years and although I have tried to recreate some again they never seem to have the same feeling. The book is there to be enjoyed, easy reading and a few laughs

About Me

I grew up in a working class family. I went down to the shipyards as a young 16 year old to serve my time as a Marine Fitter. After 15 years, including my apprenticeship, I moved into the Shipbuilding offices and trained as a Planning Engineer. After three years doing this job I made my way into the big wide world and became a traveling Contractor. I worked in many places in the UK, Europe and the Far East. I am currently still working as a Planning Engineer thirty three years later. I have a wonderful wife who cares for me and three lovely daughters. I am a proud Granddad with five grandchildren who wrap me around their fingers.

The Musicality of Writing Fiction

If you were one of those people who were born with an ear for language and telling a story, I greatly envy you.

Songs are typically written in a specific key. For example, Pachelbel Canon, familiar to many as the Christmas Canon, is written in the key of D. That means there are notes that are correct and work for that song, and notes that would be discordant and “out of tune” or wrong.

(A quick side note, I’m aware that some music, singing or collections of sounds are meant to be discordant.)

On a much simpler level, the song Louie Louie, as recorded by The Kingsmen, is in the key of A Major.

Someone could change the key Louie Louie is played in, but that means it is played with different notes to a different effect and sound.

Modern jazz tunes can be played in a particular key and also improvised in many different ways. A jazz musician could play Louie Louie or Pachelbel Canon in D to an entirely different purpose and sound than what people usually associate with these pieces.

The point is, the key a musical piece is originally written in doesn’t limit the choices of the way in which it can be played, but there’s a difference between someone new to music hitting wrong notes and an accomplished musician improvising with the intent of creating a variation.

I’m not a classically trained musician, but I can tell the difference between a wrong note being played and a thoughtful, musical variation or interpretation.

Now lets bring that back to writing. Harry Potter is a novel about fitting in. All the choices in this novel revolve around, let’s say, playing a simple rock and roll song in the key of A Major.

Because author J. K. Rowling understands the song/story she is playing, she hits the right notes. Harry Potter wants to fit in. The Dursleys want to fit in. The conflict in the world of magic is over pure blood (pure notes) and mixed blood (improvised notes, so to speak). Rowling sticks to her themes, weaving her story and characters seamlessly into her central idea. She knows the world in which her story takes place, much like a composer knows the key of his or her composition, and everything falls within those boundaries. If anything lands outside of it, it doesn’t ring true, just as a musical piece that hits a wrong note will not work in a musical composition.

Now, a new, struggling writer could set out to write a Harry Potter-type fantasy. But this writer starts out with an idea for a character or a plot event, or some other starting point. To someone reading this manuscript, because the writer hasn’t settled on a key to set the story, notes are discordant. Maybe the writer doesn’t know the world in which the story has taken place. Maybe the writer hasn’t settled on a central theme or conflict. Perhaps the characters are not well developed. These are all critical elements to creating a story that harmonizes, that brings a sense of accord and beauty to the reader.

The writer makes choices about how to describe characters, but someone the description is flat or fails to advance the story.

The words/notes aren’t set/being played in the correct key of the story.

Reading manuscripts by new or struggling authors, I’ve found I have to get to the end of the novel to find out what the story is about, or, in this context, in what key it should be played.

That requires the author to go back to the beginning of the story and find a way to convey, what Harry Potter-like fantasy the “key” the book belongs in.

The writer chooses what type of story/song they are playing.

The foundation for my a story is a promise concept is to understand a story and to make choices based on that understanding.

Looking at stories from this frame of reference, The Dead by James Joyce, and The Hunt for Red October by Tom Clancy, are the Pachelbel Canon and the Louie Louie of stories, but each hits note correct for each song.

Criticism of a story ‘not working’ are an observation that the story notes don’t create the effect of a pleasing song for a particular audience, with the understanding that different music appeals to different audiences.

In the movie Francis Florence Jenkins, the main character sang opera horribly off key, but an album she recorded was so odd, people bought it to hear badly sung opera as a comic gesture or to discover what the fuss was about. This is not the audience most writers want for their novels, so it is imperative to know what “key” you are creating in, and then to use notes that are in harmony with that key.

I’ve come across people who had a good ear for music/language and were willing to learn how to compose a story/song that played in particular key and pleased an audience. They had an ear for the tones created by words and they could create an enjoyable story melody. Such a composition may not have obeyed all the rules of grammar, but the story and its notes worked. An example is The Davinci Code. Not great writing, but mostly in tune in a way that allowed its audience to enjoy the story, in spite of the people who pointed out its faults.

And, just like in popular music, there are those one-hit wonders who write a song/novel that sells millions of copies but mystifies people who enjoy well-played music.

If you were one of those people who were born with an ear for language and telling a story, I greatly envy you. Much of my success as a writer has been as a playwright because of my imagination and an ear for dialogue. How to create a plot, that I had to learn.

Guest post by Author Bill Johnson (@bjscript on Twitter) 

About the Author

Bill Johnson is web master of Essays on the Craft of Dramatic Writing, a site that explores principles of storytelling through reviews of popular movies, books and plays (, and author of A Story is a Promise & The Spirit of Storytelling, available on Amazon. His plays have been produced around the United States.

Why Do Writers Write?

One famous writer, whose name I no longer remember, once asked to have written on his tombstone, the simple legend, “He wrote only to be read.”

After a recent talk I gave on writing, some people waited behind to speak with me. One of them jokingly remarked, “What do you do with all the money you’re earning?” That is a question I have been asked more than once. There are some writers, I know, who write with the hope of making money — a vain enterprise — but the great majority of writers are concerned more about finding readers. One famous writer, whose name I no longer remember, once asked to have written on his tombstone, the simple legend, “He wrote only to be read.” Money was for him neither an issue nor an objective.

Reflecting further on this, I have come to the realisation that recognition, or fame perhaps, is little more a motivating factor to the truly committed writer than is money. So what drives the urge? I believe that the answer is twofold. There is simply the creative spirit that desires to bring into being something original, and there is the creative ego that yearns to share that creation. Most writers would confess, if they’re honest, to a secret wish to stand at the shoulders of everyone reading their work, to watch their every facial expression, to decipher their every reaction, and hopefully, to win appreciation, even praise, for their brainchild. So, while writing may appear initially to be a fire in the belly that must need find expression, ultimately it cannot be an end in itself. The creative ego is a hungry beast.

Guest post by Author Brian O’Hare

Most Effective Ways to Overcome Your Writing Problem

You have to believe in yourself, take your writing tasks seriously and follow the tips listed here to eliminate your writing challenges.

Writers face diverse challenges. Sometimes, these challenges may not surface letting you write as much as you can. But other times, they just stir at you in the face, keeping you from writing something meaningful.

Things like the fear of failure, writer’s block, procrastination and loss of ideas are some of the challenges writers face. You will feel helpless and frustrated. Many writers also seek expository essay help to fix their writing tasks.

There are ways you can overcome any problem that is preventing you from writing. Some of us have been in this horrible situation before, so it is a pleasure to help you solve yours.

Below are ways you can overcome those problems you are facing as a writer. Read on to learn more.

  1. Identifying the problem

Identifying that there is a problem is the first step to solving it. When you feel the urge to write but can’t even form a sentence, know there is a problem.

You need to find out what is creating the problem for you. Are too tired to write? Are you going through emotional challenges? Are you sick or hungry? These are some of the questions you should ask yourself.

If tiredness from stress is the cause of the problem, all you need to do is get better sleep or rest for a while. If the problem is emotional, get it off of your head as soon as possible.

  1. Get all ideas together

You need ideas to write. In fact, the quality of what you write depends on the ideas you conceived. We often make the mistake of discarding ideas when we feel they are bad. No idea of yours should be labelled as bad when you are still in the brainstorming process.

Get all ideas you have generated together even if you think some are not relevant. You will find out which one of them is relevant when you start writing.

Before you start writing, have a brief brainstorming session. Write down any idea that comes to your mind create bullet points for all your thoughts or ideas so you can get back to them easily. After finishing the brainstorming session, rest for a while and come back to review each idea you have generated to find out which one fits the topic you are writing on.

  1. Deal with Procrastination

The root cause of most of our problems as writers is procrastination. Remember the last time you made plans to finish a particular task but ended up postponing till it was close to the deadline.

Writing under pressure isn’t good for you as a writer. And it happens when you don’t manage time properly. You’ll find yourself racing to meet the given deadline without considering the quality of what you’re writing.

Procrastination is a serious problem that any writer looking to succeed must fight to a standstill. Let’s look at ways to overcome it.


  • Make detailed schedule for the writing task
  • In the schedule, write down the deadline you will be completing the rough draft, revision and proofreading.
  • Agree on a deadline to publish the book or whatever you are writing.
  • Have some break so you can come back with a fresh mind and perspective to complete the job.
  1. Build Your Confidence

Fear is one the problems writers face. Fear of work being rejected or criticized, fear of not presenting a book that is up to expectation.

You need to build your confidence as a writer. If you have confidence in yourself, it will reflect in your writing. Remember that the only achievement you can get from being afraid is making regrettable and avoidable mistakes. Fear breeds mistakes. If you don’t trust whatever you are writing, then don’t expect others to.

Once you have already accepted that you are going to fail, there is a high possibility it is going to happen. The following tips will help in this scenario.


  • Believe in yourself and show positive attitude
  • Get a close friend to review your book or writing. From the review, you will know the area you need to work on and what you need to do.

These are some of the most effective ways you can get rid of your writing problem and become that author you have always wanted. These problems are the limiting factors, preventing you from moving further. You have to believe in yourself, take your writing tasks seriously and follow the tips listed here to eliminate your writing challenges. Once you are able to get rid of your writing problems, you will achieve more as a writer.

This post is contributed as Guest Post by Mia Stokes.