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4 Success Secrets of Infamous British Author, Jeffery Archer

This guest post is by Aman Basanti of www.Ageofmarketing.com.

Love him or hate him, there is no denying the phenomenon that is Jeffery Archer. With 27 book titles to his name and international sales passing $250 million, Archer is a phenomenon.

So what can a man as successful as Archer teach you about blogging success?

Lesson 1: Blog about what you know

We have all heard that you should blog about what you love but, according to Archer, you should blog about what you know.

“I always say to people,” said Archer in an interview, “don’t write about goblins; don’t write about wizards just because they’re in. Write what you feel at ease with. Write what you feel good with.”

He gave the example of Jane Austen, whom Archer believes wrote well because she wrote about what she knew.
“Always remember Jane Austen. [She] lived in a small village, and wrote about her mother being unable to get rid of four daughters. Then she wrote about her mother being unable to get rid of three daughters. Then she wrote about her mother being unable to get rid of two daughters. Then she wrote about the daughter.

“And genius—you have to turn the page not only because of her wonderful command of language but because she wrote about what she knew about.”

Lesson 2: Be persistent

Archer’s first book—Not a Penny More, Not a Penny Less—was rejected by 13 publishers before being accepted. The 14th gave him a £3000 advance. Most people would not have had the persistence to keep trying after the first five or six rejections, maybe nine or ten if they were pushing it, but Archer kept pushing.

What was persistence worth to Archer? At last count, Not a Penny More, Not a Penny Less, has sold over 27 million copies worldwide. And that is just one of his 27 plus books.

So do not lose hope if a few blogs turn down, worse yet not respond to, your guest post submissions.  Do not lose hope if your blog does not open with a bang. Your big break might only be a submission away. Imagine if Archer had given up after the 13th rejection.

Lesson 3: Be a storyteller

The next lesson is that you do not have to be a great writer to be a successful blogger—but you do have to be a great storyteller.

What is the difference?

“I tell audiences all over the world,” explains Archer, “that a writer is someone who is very well educated, who has a tremendous command of language. Patrick White is a classic example. He is unquestionably, unquestionably a great writer, won the Nobel prize and he’s brilliant.”

A storyteller, on the other hand, “begins once upon and a time, and prays.”

While his definition of a storyteller is a little vague, the point he makes is clear. You do not have to have a MA in English to tell a tantalizing story but you do have to tell a tantalizing story to be successful blogger.

Lesson 4: Understand the importance of the inner circle

A woman once asked Archer how he got through his prison sentence.

“I just want to know how did you get through those two years being confined in a cell when you had the world at your feet? How did you get through? I mean, I know if I was put in a jail cell I’d probably commit suicide, I couldn’t survive.  I just couldn’t do it.”

“I promise you,” replied Archer, “you’d be fine if your friends stood behind you. I promise you’d be fine. I was inspired by and kept going by my friends. If they’d run away from me, if they’d deserted me, you’re right – I’d have gone under, I’d have given in. But they kept me going.”

This is probably the most important lesson. In order to survive as a blogger, you need someone to believe in you. You need someone who shares your mindset, who thinks it can be done or at least will support you till you find out either way.

You look at most successful people and they have all had someone who supported them through their journey. Goethe had his brother, who sent him money nearly his whole life. Stephen King had his wife who never complained. Jeffery Archer had his friends.

But it does not have to be someone you know personally. You can find an online community, like this one, which will keep you positive and connected.

Have you applied these lessons in your own blogging career somehow? Share your thoughts in the comments.

Aman Basanti writes about the psychology of buying and teaches you how you can use the principles of consumer psychology to boost your sales. Visit www.Ageofmarketing.com/free-ebook to get his new e-book – Marketing to the Pre-Historic Mind: How the Hot New Science of Behavioural Economics Can Help You Boost Your Sales – for FREE.

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Comments

  1. Some great lessons to learn although I have found in my own experience I had to believe in myself before I could convince others. At some points in time the people close to you will not believe in you so you have to prove it to them but once you do it will empower your belief even more.

    • Graham Lutz says:

      Right on, Phil. And sometimes believing in yourself is the hardest part, huh?

      • Aman Basanti says:

        You are both right in that you can, and often do need to, go at it alone. But it can help to have someone there who will, at the very least, put up with you until you have figured it out either way.

  2. I’d like to add to Lesson 2: Be persistent but don’t go at it with a scatter gun. Archer probably didn’t approach 14 different publishers all at once. I imagine he picked himself up after each rejection and moved onto the next.

    My own publisher found me. I’d approached 3 others with a book idea, and then was found through my own blog, and asked to write and illustrate a book. Now I can try my own book idea again, this time from the standpoint of being a published (well, when I’m finished) author.

    • Aman Basanti says:

      That’s a good point Andrew. Many people go from one calling to another to another because it all seems so hard and the next one seems easy – until you get there, and the cycle repeats. I’ve personally found that nothing is easy, you have to stick out the hard parts in every profession.

  3. Marie Noelle says:

    Wow, I can’t believe he was rejected 13 times! Well, that’s really inspiring! He really is a phenomenon! Thank you so much for this great post! I learned a lot!!

  4. A circle that keeps you motivated and engagaed and the art of story telling via which you engage the users is a big takeaway. At times we need to ‘sleep on our posts’ and read them again as a new reader reading an unknown article How far is the article capable of holding us? Thats a big thing to learn as a blogger

    • Aman Basanti says:

      Thanks for adding that Himanshu. Sleeping on a piece is great advice because when we are writing something, we are so absorbed in it that we cannot see if from the point of view of a new reader. Sleeping on it helps us get some fresh eyes.

  5. Tom says:

    I really like your third comment about story telling. In my position, it can be boring to hear me talk about about technical and SOP (standard operating procedures) type information. I was told years ago that I have a tough job but simply need to tell it like a story. Sometimes that’s easy to forget but everyone loves to hear a story.

    Thx for the post.

  6. Moise Levi says:

    So many posts from “Guest bloggers” on Problogger seem to say the same thing over and over again …..
    Darren, probably time to change tactics
    You’ve lost me as a reader

  7. I think his first lesson is the most important. I have a good imagination, played a barnful of sword & sorcery RPGs in my time and love works like Lord of the Rings & Harry Potter, but if I ever sit down to write a fantasy book it reads back as really lame. However, when I write about my casual observations or situations I find myself in, it always reads a lot better.

    If you truly believe in your writing, (whether its a blog, poetry, or whatever), Lesson 2 is a given, surely? I can’t believe someone putting their all into whatever they are writing and giving up on it easily, (though I understand how this is likely to be easier with a blog than a novel).

    • Aman Basanti says:

      Thanks for adding to that. I agree about your last point – a blog is easier to give up on than a novel because you put less effort into it. That is why there are millions of abandoned blogs out there.

      One way to tacle this problem is to put a lot of investment into blogging upfront. I dont mean money. I mean write a good 25-50 posts before your publish your first post. Because the discouragement of being rejected for guest posts, of getting very few visitors when you first start is enough to put anyone off. But if you’ve put so much effort into it, you are less likely to give up.

  8. vanderjohn says:

    This is fantastic advice. I’ve always thought there’s something special about the word “writer.” Writers are members of our species who, unlike everyone else, figure out a way to make a living merely with the text that they create with their fingers. A noble aspiration.

  9. Only 13 rejections.

    Did you know that Colonel Sanders who created the multi-million dollar restaurant chain called Kentucky Fried Chicken was rejected by many people for his chicken recipe that is now world famous.

    Colonel Sanders was refused 1,009 times before he heard his first yes from a restaurant owner who said he would try out the recipe on his clients.

    As Winston Churchill said ‘Never, Never, Never give up’.

    If you really believe in what you are doing keep doing it.

    I believe you really can make a difference.

    Best of Success to Everyone,

    David

    • Aman Basanti says:

      Thanks for adding that. It always helps to know that persistence is not just limited to one field, it applies as much to politics, war, and take-away food as it does to writing.

  10. Bahadur says:

    It never hurts to encourage somebody to stay positive. There may be millions of people who do not need your advice but if your advice improves the life of even one person then you have made a difference to the world. Economics principle of multiplier effect applies to every sphere of life, so good actions always come around to reward you for your efforts.

  11. Aman,

    Very inspiring! Thank you.

    “In order to survive as a blogger, you need someone to believe in you. You need someone who shares your mindset, who thinks it can be done or at least will support you till you find out either way.”

    So incredibly true!

    Jennifer

  12. Dave Rowley says:

    I was stunned to read “Not a Penny more , Not A Penny Less” sold 27 million copies. That’s the only one of his books that I’ve read, probably because there’s so many of them laying around :)

    I like Archer’s point on the difference between a literary writer and a storyteller. Sometimes it’s more engaging to read a writer who likes to fly by the seat of their pants.

    • Aman Basanti says:

      Yeh 27 million is a big number. To think that many people have bought and read a book is mind blowing. Thanks for your comment.

      P.s. your site design is just awesome.

  13. zoe says:

    Jeffrey Archer is famous, NOT infamous.

    There is a very large difference. By calling him infamous you are implying that he is a criminal or is famous for some wrong doing.

    Archer does not have an extremely bad reputation, nor is he deserving of an evil reputation; or known for an infamous deed. Hence, Paris Hilton is infamous. Jeffrey Archer is famous.

    Don’t try to use large words to make yourself look smarter, or sound more interesting. You just end up sounding stupid.

    • Aman Basanti says:

      While it was only a short period of time (4 years) and while most people have forgiven him for it, do not forget that Archer did go to prison for perjury and perverting the course of justice in 2001 after lying in a libel trial against a newspaper which said he had had sex with a prostitute. If that is not an example of disrepute, ill-fame, and notoriety, then I don’t know what is.

    • Umm, if you know anything about him you’d understand why the author called him infamous. He’s had his fair share of controversy.

      You can be famous for something great and still be infamous.

  14. Chiara says:

    This makes it sound so much more attainable. It’s exactly what I needed to read. Thank you.

  15. alls says:

    now i’m opening think to get better blog, and i like this post

  16. teacher says:

    Blog what you know. Sort of, a blog where the author is learning along the way can be just as good for other people who are learning the same stuff. So we have seen parenting blogs written by people who aren’t experts but who are learning on the job how to be a parent.

    Be persistent. Duh.

    So what does it mean to tell a good story?

    Inner circle. Eh, everyone’s different but I think some people are tough enough to be a lone blogger. Running a blog is probably not as tough as doing years in prison (not that I know for sure). Besides people have survived prison with little support too.

  17. Thanks for posting all the info’s.I learned something today.

  18. Hi Aman,
    I like the idea of being a story-teller as opposed to being a writer only. Interesting writing leads to many readers.

    I have a great support in regards to online readers in which I am grateful for. This does really help me to keep going and contributing through my writing efforts.

  19. The being persistent message here is by far the most important because most blogger seem to give up so early. There is nothing more annoying than being knocked in the face and not having any readers and it would have been easy for Archer to give up with he got recejtion number 12. Keep pushing away at the boulder up the hill and it might take a couple of years but if you are determined enough and want it enough you’ll get whatever it is you want

  20. chris says:

    It’s not always easy to write about what you know. I think people should do some research and study a little on their chosen niche and then it will be easier to write on that particular topic.

  21. Good lessons, all! Thanks for composing the main points so succinctly! I only know Archer through his books but have enjoyed every one. As for writing about what you don’t know (infinitely more difficult!), I suppose it works well if a writer’s true voice is established and that writer is authentic in approaching the subject and audience. For me, the only alternate to writing about what I know is to write about what I want to learn. That’s a motivator and a great tool for the autodidact!

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  22. Robin says:

    One thing that’s not been mentioned is ‘how’ Archer writes his books!

    This is important – and something I learnt whilst watching him being interviewed on British TV some years ago, and it’s always stuck with me…

    He writes a book ‘cover to cover’ in two weeks flat.

    How?

    Before the 2 weeks even arrives, months before… he jots down notes, ideas, character sketches, plot lines, twists etc into a moleskin book that he keeps with him at all times. He uses those little moments in the day, dead time, travelling time to keep this book going for months. He has his novel ‘pallette’ all scribbled down.

    Then, he goes abroad on holiday for 2 weeks and commits to writing for a set time per day. From memory this was the Carribean. He writes, not quality – just getting through the story end to end. Then he goes back and tunes and adds more spice again, end to end. He gets the start, middle and end just right. Finally, at the end of the 2 weeks deadline I recall that he sends the manuscript to his editors for review and feedback and several weeks later spends one weekend finishing it off. Then it’s off to press and millons sold. Not bad for 2 weeks hard work, plus a weekend!

    Any of this resonate with you?