Monday, January 9, 2012

Traits of Successful Women Writers

One of my guilty pleasures on weekends is watching Book TV. Generally I wait until my hubby and grandkiddos are out and about or busy doing something else before I tune in. Otherwise I get groans from them because they want to watch something else.

Last night, after the late news was over and everyone else in the house was asleep, I switched to C-SPAN's Book TV and caught most of a presentation given by Marji Ross, President of Regnery Publishing. Last night's presentation was a broadcast of a talk she gave in November at the Heritage Foundation.

The title of Ross's presentation was "Seven Surprising Secrets of Best-Selling Female Authors...and How Your Future Happiness Might Depend on Them." Her talk really was a celebration of women in a positive way--not anti-male at all -- which I found uplifting. She spoke candidly about how she worked through the grief of losing her husband, how she is open and honest with her daughters, and how she is a champion for publishing books with a conservative slant.

The primary focus of her talk, however, wasn't on her conservative politics, but on what she has learned after years in the publishing industry about the traits that successful women writers share. I'm always trying to learn from others who are much more experienced and wiser than I am, so I grabbed a notebook and pen and took notes.

The following are the highlights of her talk--at least what I jotted down late last night -- about traits shared by successful women writers and publishers.

Successful women writers: 

* Understand the value of building relationships (vs networking). Networking has come to mean what can I get from you in exchange for giving you something I have, where building relationships is more long-term and personal.

* Like to communicate and share their experiences with others. More women belong to book clubs than men, for example.

* Know they need character to have integrity. They listen to their internal moral compass. Women remind society to stay on the right trail.

* Look for win-win solutions. Success is not finite; success breeds success.

* Know that little things matter, but they don’t lose sight of the big picture.

* Understand that service is strength. Serving others doesn't make a person weak; it can make them indispensable

* Celebrate differences between men and women.

Ross suggests women writers should:

* Be trustworthy and supportive.

* Embrace the success-breeds-success philosophy.

* Be problem solvers rather than just problem spotters.

* Volunteer to overcome depression and lonliness.

* Figure out what they believe in, write it down, and share it with their families. The act of writing down one's beliefs will help clarify them.

* Always bring a pen and paper (or iPad) to take notes.

* Be a person of character and live a life of integrity.

* Avoid chasing success only to leave happiness behind.

* Bring passion to your work.

* Be on a mission to reach people rather than just selling books. As you reach people, books will sell.

* Be an expert in something. Find your niche.

* Realize that books are changing their role in society. While e-books may continue to grow in popularity and sales, physical books will gain value as gifts.

As I re-read my notes this morning, I decided to share them with my readers. I agree with Ross that sharing experiences with others and building relationships is important, as well as is being supportive and embracing the success-breeds-success philosophy.

So, what do you think? Do you agree with her observations and suggestions? Are there any traits you would add?


  1. Hmm, these actually sound like things people in general should do. :)

    I especially like the part about building relationships as opposed to networking. Oh, and this - "Avoid chasing success only to leave happiness behind."

    Thanks for sharing these, Donna!

  2. Wow. These are tremedous and thanks for sharing them. Most echo what I believe and try to live by but a reminder was in order too. I have been involved in something where I kept saying "let my personality not rule, but let the project be the focus". In the tiniest way something came home to me yesterday that showed me it had been the right way, that it had worked. Sometimes we can get buried in trying to do the right thing; the traits you listed for women writers-yes,I agree with the commenter above-works for everyone and life in general.

  3. Hi Madeline,
    You are welcome, and you are right about the list being things people in general should do.

    Hi Claudia,
    I'm glad you like them.

    Your experience with focusing on the project is one I've had in the past. I'm glad you discovered you took the right approach.


  4. Great post, Donna! I need to check the Book TV schedule more often. Thanks for sharing the info!

  5. Hi Becky,
    You are welcome. Some weekends I forget to check the schedule, but the website has some programs in their archives.

  6. Look for the open window instead of moaning about the closed door.

    Sometimes we're told no, or a book signing doesn't draw a large crowd, or some other disappointment lands in our lap. You never know who is watching never know what connections you make that will have a huge impact. Be open after suffering a blow--you never know what opportunity will come your way.

  7. Great suggestions that are relevant, I'm sure, for both female AND male writers!

    Critter Alley

  8. This is a great list to use as a career map. I'm in agreement on the relationship point. In my blogging universe I want to share with those I follow, and I like to get to know those who follow me.

  9. Thanks so much for sharing, Donna. I like the points she made about sharing and building relationships.

  10. Good advice. I've never watched book TV before, I'll have to check and see if we have it on our Dish Network.

  11. Hi Pat,
    How true.

    Hi Sally,
    Blogs are wonderful ways to build relationships with other writers.

    Hi Carol,
    Me too!

    Hi Janet,
    I hope you can catch Book TV. It's worth a look.


  12. I love Book TV! I only caught part of her presentation, so thanks for sharing!

  13. Enjoyed this very much. Especially liked how she said to reach people.

  14. Loved this post - thanks for sharing Donna!

  15. Hi Mary,
    Book TV is great!
    You are welcome.

    Hi Kristen,
    Thanks. She did have a lot of good advice.

    Hi Lynn,
    Glad you enjoyed it. You are welcome.


  16. Great post, Donna. Many of those sound just like my critique group! :)

  17. Hi Lisa,
    Thanks. Your group sounds great!

  18. Wonderful advice, Donna. Not just for writing, but for living. P.S., I have an award for you on my blog. Will not be at all hurt if you don't have time to mess with it. But I do appreciate your blog!

  19. Hi Tammy,
    Thanks. I will check it out.


Mysteries of the Ozarks, Volume V - Interviews with Lonnie Whitaker and Dr. Barri Bumgarner

Here is the second installment of interviews with contributors who have stories in Mysteries of the Ozarks, Volume V , from Ozark Writers, I...