Academy for Wayward Authors: Are Your Goals Truly Yours? Unraveling Personal Ambition vs. Groupthink

Are the goals you seek your own?

The most common goal I hear authors express is to earn a living from writing or, more often, to be a six-figure author.

I also watched many authors mimic others because they believe they have the life they want.

What is your goal selection process?

The Academy aims for its pupils to leave with the tools for the practice of being an author. This means seeking and earning success rather than questing for the easy button or blindly following what the community groupthink says is good.

A significant portion of the journey doesn’t look like success outwardly.

No one sees you because you are in solitude writing your book.

The hard work and effort to build an audience and brand happen off-stage.

If you adopt the role of a silent giant, you purposely stay out of the limelight.

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First and foremost, when you decide that you are going to get paid to write, you get the harshest criticism of all. People vote with their wallets.

You’ve chosen to participate in one of the most competitive industries. If you play others’ games and buy into rank and notoriety as a goal, you’ll become dependent upon others’ opinions to feel you’re a success.

I’ve observed that some do not walk a long, stoney path to success but run to shelter. They don’t recognize that the shelter is a prison of endless emotional torture because they’re too busy chasing unexamined goals.

Many are complicit in creating an environment that leads to ill will, poor self-talk, and misery by supporting a faulty definition of “success.”

I know I’ve been part of the problem when I use catchphrases like “six-figure author.”

We do this because it is code for something more complex. In truth, no one is satisfied with the specific achievement of having a revenue of $100,000. That’s just a merit badge. What we seek is financial security while doing something we love.

Marketers are trying to sell you something to support your dreams; “six-figure author” is a catchphrase to bait you and throw you inside the prison of someone else’s goals.

I’ve done it myself, thinking everything will improve “once I achieve X.” Then, when I do hit the goal, I find that I’ve only exchanged problems. The solution I was seeking wasn’t a solution at all.

But we tell ourselves that magic number is the threshold to a world without worries.

What does this prison look like?

For many, it is that they are on the path to earned success but can’t enjoy that journey because comparison steals their joy.

I routinely talk to authors earning thirty to eighty thousand dollars writing books, and they consider themselves failures. They are in the top 1% of all authors and above the median of earnings, yet their default mode network goes to “I’m a failure.”

The recent ALLi survey of authors disclosed average earnings of $80,000 and median earnings of $12,749.

Let me break that last sentence down. If you take the 2,218 people who responded, half (1,109) earn $12,749 or less. When you divide the group’s total earnings by 2,218, you get an average of $80,000. In essence, the average spread the much larger earnings of a few authors over the whole group. When outliers were removed, the average was reduced to $65,482—a flaw in averaging.

Keep in mind that this is ALLi, and you must know about the organization to find and answer the survey. It doesn’t include a much larger group of authors who don’t know about the existence of author groups like ALLi.

Then there is the ever-present issue: everyone is talking about revenue rather than profit. If you’re earning $60,000 in profits, that can replace many day jobs. The same in revenue will likely not replace income; it will only supplement it.

Monetary goals become a race that stops only when you’re the top earner. Then, your worry switches to what will interrupt your success.

As you begin to apply the Academy’s ideas, think through your path to take. It will include a lot of time not in the goal state but moving from goal state to goal state:

• Getting published.
• Getting to your break-even point.
• Getting you a replacement income that you can quit your day job (if YOU want).
• Completing your first series.
• The list goes on…

As you go through the rest of this series and the work prescribed, always stop and ask these questions:



How do you know that?

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These two questions can break you out of prison and get you on YOUR path to earned success with goals you believe in and that are achievable.

Why gets you questioning if it is your thinking or the groupthink.

Asking someone, how do you know that, is your best defense against becoming an adopter of groupthink and others’ goals.

Let me end with a little dose of reality. Next time you’re at a conference and hear extremely profitable authors say, “If I can do it, you can do it,” recognize that it may be true that you are also the person to achieve that same type of success, but that doesn’t mean everyone can.

On the contrary, less than 1% of authors will earn ten thousand dollars in a lifetime from writing.

Of greater importance is asking yourself if what they achieved is what you desire.

Recognizing this is a way to stay on your realist path of success and not follow others into Groupthink Prison.

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