What Artists Can Learn from Advice for Authors

by Carolyn Edlund

A bestselling writer shared sound advice in a brilliant forum post meant for authors. It doesn’t matter whether you are selling books or art, though. The principles remain the same, and artists can also benefit.


What Artists can Learn from Advice for Authors. Read it at www.ArtsyShark.com


Way back in 2013, successful author Russell Blake wrote a classic post in an author’s discussion forum, which has been read more than 100,000 times. It was titled “Sell Loads of Books – My System Spelled Out” and you can read the original text here. It’s popularity testifies to the soundness of his advice, and how much it resonates with other writers who are looking to make book sales. Blake states right out of the gate that this isn’t the only way to do things – but it’s his way of doing them.

His lengthy post includes 28 points, and he elaborates on each one in the forum (which is worth the read). I’ve listed the first sentence of each. See if you agree that when his points are translated to selling art, he hits the mark in many ways. Which ones do you agree with or disagree with?

  1. Pick one genre that’s popular and with which you are extremely familiar, and then write in that genre.
  2. Write a series.
  3. Write a lot.
  4. Read a lot.
  5. Allocate time every day to write, and be disciplined.
  6. Allocate time every day to market; I recommend a 75%/25% writing to marketing mix.
  7. Stay off the internet when you’re writing.
  8. Get professional help.
  9. Make sure your product description rocks, is short and compelling, and sucks the reader in.
  10. Now for the actual book. You have five pages to hook the reader. The first five.
  11. Know your audience.
  12. Brand yourself as the go-to author in that genre.
  13. Price competitively and intelligently.
  14. When writing, write as a craftsman/artist, and strive to improve every day.
  15. It’s okay to go back and rewrite your early work once you’ve evolved past it.
  16. There is no such thing as “not my best work.”
  17. When finished writing, put on your business hat.
  18. Businesses require investment.
  19. Have realistic goals.
  20. Book selling is a retail business, and retail businesses are promotions intense.
  21. Assess what will be required to make it (and define what make it means to you in a coherent, attainable way), and then decide whether you are willing to do it.
  22. Decide whether making it is worth the cost.
  23. Be true to yourself.
  24. Pay attention to what works, and what doesn’t.
  25. Don’t try to be all things to all people.
  26. Nobody has ever heard of you. That’s cause for celebration.
  27. Finally, don’t waste your time.
  28. Having said all this, your best chance of making it is always writing your next book.

Which of these points ring true to you? Would you offer any additional advice to artists who want to sell their work?



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  1. What a great list. So true and so valuable for artists of any genre.

    I would add one critical extra piece of advice: Believe in yourself and what you have to offer to collectors.

    Without full and unwavering confidence, you won’t do much of what is on that list – especially investing money in promotion and hiring professionals. You won’t want to invest your time or emotional currency. You will approach everything with a taint of fear and self-doubt.

    Believe (because it is TRUE!) that you create artful objects that change people’s lives forever and the rest of the “work” will naturally follow with a sense of joy and urgency!

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