Success Habits of Authors Who Sold Well in 2020

by | Feb 3, 2021 | Marketing & Selling

We all have habits. Good habits. Bad habits. Habits that we notice and nurture. These habits we’ve been doing so long that we don’t even recognize them as habits anymore. And the wonderful thing about success habits is that you can decide to build them into your life.

Successful people intentionally create habits that enable them to achieve the success they desire. Bestselling and profitable authors intentionally craft success habits that support their writing, publishing, and book marketing goals so that they can bring their author vision to life.

I reached out to five authors who have been doing quite well with their book sales during the 2020 pandemic – which, of course, has turned into the 2020-2021 pandemic – and asked them about what habits they developed to bring them their success while so many others were struggling. Here is what they said.

Jodi Andes – Small Habits, Big Impact

Jodi Andes, author of Master of Deceit, the true story of conman John Donald Cody, worked most of her career in journalism and honed her investigative skills at the Columbus Dispatch. As a journalist, she is no stranger to the common advice to authors: carve out time to write every day or several times a week. However, she says, although that is critical, she needs to do something else first.

“I need an environment that tricks my body into unclenching. Every room in my home usually has someone in it, and they are often coming or going. Office space – forgive me as I laugh here – is financially out of reach. My budget is as lean as Michael Phelps in top condition. But after eight years of research, I decided in 2019 that my book was coming out in 2020 no matter what. That meant I had to get creative with my workspace. I made little changes so I could think big.”

She has instituted several small habits that have made a big impact on her success and suggests that budding writers start with some variation on the basic steps she lives by:

  1. The cellphone goes off or on vibrate.
  2. Stake invisible signs in the floor around you that come with a real, and very stern reminders to family that you are off-limits. “No exceptions unless you are near death,” she says. “Cross my invisible line and spoiling my peace has dire consequences (like I may interrupt you working or show embarrassing pictures of you when your friends are over.)”
  3. Remove everything that can sneak into your peripheral view and distract you, such as bills, day-job work, and so forth. “Don’t even look at the pile you are creating, otherwise you will be as good for writing as a leash-less dog who spots a squirrel.”
  4. Get a nice beverage to help you relax. “Yes, obvious choices are coffee or tea,” Jodi says, “though bourbon has been known to appear a time or two.”
  5. Finally, add an aromatic touch. “I use lavender oil or burn a candle,” she says. “The lavender is only a drop on my ear or wrist. And the candles – anything like the kind at Bath and Body Works, which can become addictive. Either way, subtle scent forces me to take relaxing deep breathes because I want more.”

Success habit tips from Jodi Andes, Author of Master of Deceit

Jodi Andes, Author of Master of DeceitPhotographed Tuesday, November 1, 2016. (© James D. DeCamp | | 614-367-6366)


Master of Deceit

Master of Deceit:How a Veteran Con Man Scammed His Way into the White House

Does Jodi work in an ideal author workspace? Of course not, most authors don’t – and you don’t need one to be successful. “All in all, my workspace is not exactly the picturesque retreat on a lake I would prefer,” she says, “but it redirects my mind to move away from the day’s craziness and steer toward my world of choice for the next several hours.”

Suggested Success Habits for New and Aspiring Writers

“I use this one trick that I was taught as a reporter which gives me the nerve to face that ever- intimidating empty screen. I envision that I am talking to a friend. Whatever I think goes on the screen. I know it’s not going to be perfect, but I find I naturally home in on the things a reader would want to know. From there, I choose one point and begin to elaborate. Before I know it, I begin writing sentences I will ultimately keep.”


Jenny Levine Finke – Focused on Community

In April of 2021, Jenny Levine Finke was diagnosed with celiac disease, a genetic autoimmune disease that causes the immune system to mistakenly attack the healthy tissue surrounding the small intestine every time a person with the condition eats gluten. She has since become a champion of the gluten-free lifestyle, a certified holistic nutrition and wellness coach certified by the Institute for Integrative Nutrition, and the author of the bestselling book Dear Gluten, It’s Not Me, It’s You.

“I have become deeply in tune with the struggles and challenges my community faces,” says Jenny. “When someone joins my newsletter, I introduce myself as well as ask them to share with me their biggest challenges of living a gluten-free lifestyle. I have learned a lot from what people have shared with me, and that has helped me create a slew of content and resources to help them, including my book.”

This simple habit – asking her subscribers about their challenges and listening to their responses – has been the key to her success during this pandemic, she believes. “I’m keenly focused on serving my community and believe it has been my greatest asset in 2020. I created the website, Good For You Gluten Free, in 2015 to help my community manage the day-to-day challenges associated with following a strict, gluten-free diet. Only after years of serving my community, and after becoming keenly aware of the daily challenges my community faces, did I feel ready to publish my book. I not only have a built-in audience, but I also attract new people to my platform every day.”

Suggested Success Habits for New and Aspiring Writers

“Continue to build relationships and engage with your community every chance you get,” Jenny says. “A great way to engage with your audience is by having a really strong and healthy newsletter. I obsessively look for ways to capture names and emails and add them to my list so I can create a relationship with them over time. You would be shocked at how many people respond to my emails, share their stories with me, and tell me how much they appreciate my approach to living with a gluten disorder. I realize promoting my book is a long-term prospect, and building relationships, one by one, has worked well for me in the past and I hope will continue to serve me well in the future.”

Jenny Finke

Jenny Levine Finke, Author of Dear Gluten, It’s Not Me, It’s You


Dear Gluten

Dear Gluten, It’s Not Me, It’s You: How to Survive Without Gluten and Restore Your Health from Celiac Disease or Gluten Sensitivity


Anne Janzer – The Servant Author

If you’ve been reading this blog, you’ve heard of servant leadership. But have you heard of servant authorship? That’s what Anne Janzer says is the key to her success. Anne is an award-winning author and armchair cognitive science geek who loves helping people find more joy in their writing. Her books include Get the Word Out, Writing to Be Understood, The Writer’s Process, The Workplace Writer’s Process, and Subscription Marketing.

“Other than writing and journaling consistently,” she says, “my important success habit, as a nonfiction writer, is practicing what I call servant authorship: focusing on how I can serve my audience, at all phases of the work. When I’m not sure about what to write, I think about the audience or talk with people. When editing, envisioning the audience offers clear insight into what needs to go. Writing seems like such an inner game, but (at least in my nonfiction world), the reader is an essential participant. In 2020, as the world shut down, I focused on my readers, interacted with my community, and wrote my fifth book, Get the Word Out, which is based on the servant authorship concept.”

Sound familiar? This is just another riff on what Jenny was talking about. Focus on your community, your readers, and your audience. Without them, you’re not going to be a successful author.

“Focusing on the audience helps me make better decisions about what to write, what to include, and how to approach the topic,” Anne says. ”It clarifies decisions about how to publish and promote a book, or what to do once the book is out in the world. Ultimately, thinking about someone else’s perspective is a kind of cognitive empathy, and empathy makes us more effective communicators and writers.”

Suggested Success Habits for New and Aspiring Writers

Anne suggests that you include the people you hope to serve in every step of your writing process: “On top of every outline, identify the audience you want to reach and their reason for reading. As you draft, envision your core audience. Run ideas past people who represent your readers. And as you edit and revise, think of those people. If you need help, try this journaling exercise: Write yourself a letter from the perspective of someone in your core audience (from them to you), about your topic area. That can get you thinking about what they know, believe, or are curious about.”

Anne Janzer

Anne Janzer, Author of Writing to Be Understood and Get the Word Out


Writing to Be Understood: What Works and Why

Writing to Be Understood: What Works and Why


Get the Word Out: Write a Book that Makes a Difference

Get the Word Out: Write a Book that Makes a Difference


Mari McCarthy – Daily Routines As a person with ADHD, I know the value of daily routines. Without them, I’d probably leave my glasses and phone at home way more often than I already do.

Mari McCarthy attributes much more to her daily habits than keeping the simple things together, she claims they’ve helped her heal from illness and become a successful author.

“My success habit that skyrocketed me to productivity and creativity and beyond was Routine,” she says. “Keeping a daily morning (journaling, meditation, vocal warm-ups) and nighttime (night notes) self-care routine coupled with following a paleo nutritional routine” keep her centered and grounded. She feels they give her the strength to not give in to her overly analytical head, nor her inner critics or whichever “goonies and gremlins are knocking around my brain.”

Suggested Success Habits for New and Aspiring Writers

A strong proponent of journaling – her business centers on the practice – she suggests new and aspiring authors, “ask their Journal and have discussions with her/him. He/She really loves it when you ask for their guidance and adult supervision. They’ll come up with the routines that FEEL right for them.”

Mari L. McCarthy, Author of Journaling Power: How To Create The Happy, Healthy Life You Want To Live

Mari L. McCarthy, Author of Journaling Power: How To Create The Happy, Healthy Life You Want To Live


Journaling Power: How To Create The Happy, Healthy Life You Want To Live

Journaling Power: How To Create The Happy, Healthy Life You Want To Live


Marc Reklau – A Jack of Many Habits

What post about success habits can be complete without the advice from the author of a book about habits? The last author to weigh in on this post is Marc Reklau, author of 30 Days – Change your habits, Change your life: A couple of simple steps every day to create the life you want.

Is there a Golden Ticket habit for author success? Not really, says Marc. “It’s difficult to narrow it down to one habit. It was rather a combination of many success habits like consistency, hard work, continuous learning, learning from authors that are at a point where you want to be one day.”

And that is a success habit to nurture right there – life-long learning. Successful people understand that knowledge is crucial for helping them achieve their goals. They stay up to date on relevant industry information, current trends, and innovations. This is built into their daily routine.

“I think [these habits] made me successful because above all I never gave up. And while I was trying other things like creating online courses, coaching, speaking, etc. I was always obsessed with making a lot of money with my book royalties and didn’t stop until I made it.”

Suggested Success Habits for New and Aspiring Writers

“I can only repeat myself. The best tips I can give you is to keep on learning, learn from the best and never ever give up. You might have to change or adapt plans but keep going.”

Marc Reklau, International Bestselling Author

Marc Reklau, International Bestselling Author


30 Days - Change your habits, Change your life: A couple of simple steps every day to create the life you want

30 Days – Change your habits, Change your life: A couple of simple steps every day to create the life you want

Make 2021 Yours with These New Success Habits

Did you find some new habits you’d like to form in these author stories and advice? I don’t know about you, but what I found surprising was how simple and timeless the advice was. These authors did not reinvent the wheel with their success habits. They did what has always worked … and so can you.


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