Saturday, March 7, 2015

What's Luck Got to Do With Writing?



March, the month of four-leaf clovers and little green leprechauns, is right around the corner, bringing visions of green beer and that pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. We are all Irish on St. Patrick’s Day, and we all hope to be showered with that famous luck of the Irish.

The word luck, beaten and bastardized, gets tossed around like a day-old doughnut whenever Indie authors discuss success (or lack thereof) of their book sales.

The first time I ran a KDP free book promotion, and placed my suspense eBook, She’s Not There, free on, I only had 8,202 downloads at the end of my two days. This result was disappointing compared to those of an author friend, who had 26, 000 using the same promotion. When I asked her about it, she said that her huge number of downloads were a matter of luck. A popular eBook site noticed her promotion and highlighted it for their readers. I know firsthand that her success is not all due to luck. She is a devoted marketer and spends every available moment working to maintain her book’s sales momentum. Me, I’m addicted to things like playing bridge, reading, and watching soap operas; my marketing ethic is not nearly as fierce!

Here is a universal truth: Luck is more likely to happen to those who go after it, especially us writers. 

I know you don’t want to hear that. We would all prefer to cling to magical thinking: I’ll get rich when I win the lottery, the perfect man will come knocking at my door, a stroke of fate will send my book sales through the roof.

   It ain’t gonna happen!

Secrets of Lucky People

1.    They believe they will be successful.
Research shows that if you believer you’ll succeed, your odds of hitting a lucky streak go up. There is no magic involved—expectancy is a real driver of results. Expecting something as opposed to wanting or hoping for it, will affect your decision–making and you’ll put in more of an effort than you normally would have. Find ways to stay positive and expect success—it works!

2.    They Notice What Others Miss.
Lucky people are more open to random opportunities. They notice chance situations and act on them. They are flexible in their thinking, and it’s that relaxed, open attitude that allows them to see what others don’t.
Keep your eyes open for opportunities—they’re out there!

3.    They Say “Yes”
Lucky people do not remain passive. Instead, they seize opportunities as they come without endless second-guessing.
When chance encounters occur, don’t over-think them, act on them!

4.    They Switch Things Up
 Lucky people increase their chances of getting opportunities by meeting new people and trying new things. Luck won’t come looking for you or call on you on your Smartphone.
The more you put yourself out there, and try new things, the more likely it is you will find luck.

5.    They Practice Bouncing Back 
Lucky people don’t let one failure sidetrack their road to success. When you let a bad break get you down, you close the door on new situations that could lead to a lucky break. Closely linked to the first trait, expecting the best, bouncing back means you will have a greater chance of success with each failure, because you’ll be trying more often.
Regard every bad break as an opportunity to find the right course for you!

Dear Readers,
         So many of us, myself included, wait for that magical break that will mean success for our writing. But magical thinking delays success. Practice these habits of lucky people and reap the rewards.
Happy St. Patrick’s Day,

Note: I seldom repeat a blog, but this one on luck has been so popular that I repeat it every March when the luck of the Irish is on our minds.


  1. I agree that luck has little to do with being successful as a writer. It takes work. It also takes getting to know the people that read your work and giving back to them in return. Glad you republished this post. Happy St. Patrick's Day weekend.

    1. HI Linda,
      I do believe there IS luck out there, but as you said it takes work. You must position yourself to be able to respond when luck does come your way and be able to recognize it and take advantage of it. Kind of bursts the old bubble finding out that being lucky takes hard work!
      Thanks for stopping in,

  2. I know you're a fan of St. Patricks Day, Marla. I am too. I remember when I was a young man in Chicago, everyone was Irish on the Green day, even the river! Your blog on Luck is spot on.

    1. I am! Been wearing the green for three days now! My Dad used to disappear to Chicago every year on St Patty's day (we lived in Kenosha)
      Yes, you make your own luck!
      Have a nice weekend,

  3. Thank you for posting again Marla. Yes, marketing is hard work not luck! During my free days I was #33 in the top 100 free downloads and I smiled. But then went back to social media and finding more ways to market. Today, I'm exhausted! I think I'll write now; it seems so easy ate these few days of hard work!

    1. Hi Joanie,
      Glad you liked it! Right, luck may be a piece of it, but it is only a very small one. I wish the darn marketing didn't take up so much of my writing time. And money!
      Have a good week,

  4. Great advice. If only I were better at following it. Guess I need to get more addicted to self-promotion and stop holding myself back. Damn, and I was all for that luck theory too. ;-)

    1. Yes, we all hang onto that hope! Yes, promotion is absolutely necessary. Read some advice that you need to do one big promo a month for one of your books. Expensive in time and money! Necessary evil though in order to get sales and exposure.
      Thanks for visiting, Lilly,

  5. Hi Marla,

    I'm not the kind of person who thinks they're lucky. I'm the kind of person who has to buy a new
    oven, hoover and washing machine just before Christmas! (That really happened last year.)

    I do realise though that I can't keep myself stuck in a rut. I am the only person who can write
    the books I want to and get them in front of people. Like you say, marketing does take up a lot of time but I try to make sure that my writing takes priority.

    I haven't spend, and don't intend to spend money on marketing though. I make use of social
    media, have my own blog and leave comments like this on interesting posts. I am gathering
    quite a following before the publication of my first book which I'm thankful to have. I couldn't have
    started using social media and trying to publish at the same time. I'm glad I started building
    word of mouth now.

    Who knows, perhaps when publication day arrives, my luck will change.

    All the best,


    1. Hi Mark,
      I'm with you--not naturally lucky! Kudos on your determination to market your books on a shoestring. It isn't easy. I will say that when you do run a promo, spending money to get the word out is usually recouped by improved sales after the promo.
      You have done the very smart thing in getting your social media strategy established before publishing. I mainly do Twitter and this blog. Just not enough time in a day to do it all!
      Wishing you a happy Easter, and a special dash of luck,

  6. I really love this post. I think we all need to remember we make our own luck sometimes. Good things come when we do good things. (the golden rule right) why not apply for having a good attitude? Would you mind of I shared a link to this post on my blog? Think my readers would like it. Though I admit I have very few readers.

    1. HI, RM,
      Yes, I think this is a topic worth bringing up annually. We all like to dream about getting lucky, but it won't happen if you're sitting in your recliner dreaming about it!
      Go ahead and share, I appreciate the thought. Have a wonderful weekend,


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