LeBron’s Lessons for Authors

Publish date:

By Rob Eagar

I'm a 5-foot, 10-inch man who can barely jump. LeBron James is 6-foot, 8-inch basketball superstar who can jump so high that people wonder if he's human. So, we're polar opposites on the basketball court. But, after watching LeBron win his first championship last week, I felt a strange connection between us. He just secured his first NBA title - a feat that had eluded and frustrated him for several years. I just published my first business book, Sell Your Book Like Wildfire, a feat that eluded and frustrated me for several years. During LeBron's post-game press conference, he talked openly about the difficult road he had walked to achieve his goal. Some of his comments offer timely lessons for authors:

"When I lost year, I was humbled and it took me to rock bottom."

In 2011, LeBron and his team suffered a humiliating loss in the NBA finals, which brought a load of doubt and criticism into his life. After eight seasons of basketball, he began to wonder if he'd ever win a title. But, he didn't let his superstar status go to his head by retaliating and accusing other people for the defeat. Instead, he humbly took the blame upon himself. Accepting this burden positioned LeBron to fight back and win a championship this year.

As an author, it's humiliating when you can't get someone to publish your book. Over the past three years, my proposal for Sell Your Book Like Wildfire was rejected by 15 publishers and 4 literary agents. Talk about humbling. It's tough to keep writing when the setbacks feel endless. But, instead of blaming other people, I had to accept the rejection with humility and use it as fuel to propel me forward.

"I looked myself in the mirror and realized I needed to get better both on and off the court."

LeBron's devastating defeat in 2011 forced him to do some soul-searching. His conclusion? I'm part of the problem. Even though he was nicknamed "The Chosen One" as a rookie, nobody was going to hand him a championship. He had to earn it, which meant he had to get better as a person and as an athlete. LeBron made changes in his family life and asked older basketball players to help improve his game. Those changes made him feel more complete and ready to bounce back from last season with a stronger mindset.

When I first wrote my book proposal, I thought agents and publishers would beat down my door with offers. Instead, I got a lot of rejection. Nobody handed me anything. So, I had to stop and ask myself if I was the problem. Was I getting in my own way? Grudgingly, I re-examined my manuscript and realized that my writing was too flat. I had good content, but my big idea wasn't communicated in a captivating manner. So, I took steps to make the necessary changes to get my book proposal to the next level.

"Winning this championship is a testament to hard work paying off."

Success is sweeter when you earn it. After a year of renewed effort, LeBron celebrated his first championship with gusto. He danced with his teammates as champagne flowed freely in the locker room. My favorite part was watching the look of unbridled joy on his face as he received the winner's trophy. By finally accomplishing his goal through hard work, the sense of satisfaction made all his pain and effort feel worthwhile. Now, he's emboldened with a deeper sense of confidence to go win another NBA title.

Likewise, I can understand how LeBron feels. Putting in the hard work to finally get my book published (with Writer's Digest) has given me a sense of satisfaction and confidence. I can't say that I partied like LeBron, but some champagne did flow freely. The best part is seeing three years of hard work come together to create a resource that will help thousands of authors achieve their goal to sell books like wildfire.

I may never dunk like LeBron or win an NBA championship. But, we both share the fulfillment of seeing a difficult dream through to completion. Maybe he'll decide to write a book someday. If so, I've got just the answer.


Rob Eagar’s new book from Writer’s Digest, Sell Your Book Like Wildfire, is now available in print and e-book formats. This is the bible of book marketing for authors and publishers. Get 288 pages packed with advanced information, real-life examples, and tips to start selling more books immediately. There are specific chapters on social media, word-of-mouth tools, Amazon, and a chapter dedicated to best practices for marketing fiction. In addition, get over 30 pages of free bonus updates online. Get your copy today at:

http://www.writersdigestshop.com/sell-your-book-like-wildfire or http://www.BookWildfire.com

Image placeholder title

About the Author

Rob Eagar is the founder of WildFire Marketing, a consulting practice that helps authors and publishers sell more books and spread their message like wildfire. He has assisted numerous New York Times bestselling authors and is author of the new book, Sell Your Book Like Wildfire. Find out more about Rob’s advice, products, and coaching services for authors at: www.startawildfire.com


Dr. Munish Batra and Keith R.A. DeCandido: Entertainment and Outrage

Authors Dr. Munish Batra and Keith R.A. DeCandido explain how they came to co-write their novel and why it's important to them that the readers experience outrage while reading.


Incite vs. Insight (Grammar Rules)

Learn when to use incite vs. insight with Grammar Rules from the Writer's Digest editors, including a few examples of correct usages.


Jane K. Cleland: On Writing the Successful Long-Running Series

Award-winning mystery author Jane K. Cleland describes what it's like to write a long-running book series and offers expert advice for the genre writer.

writer's digest wd presents

WD Presents: #StartWrite, Virtual Conference, and New Courses

This week, we’re excited to announce free resources to start your writing year off well, our Novel Writing Virtual Conference, and more!


20 Most Popular Writing Posts of 2020

We share a lot of writing-related posts throughout the year on the Writer's Digest website. In this post, we've collected the 20 most popular writing posts of 2020.


Carla Malden: Writing With Optimism and Innocence

Screenwriter and author Carla Malden explains why young adult fiction and the '60s go hand-in-hand and how she connected with her main character's voice.


Writing Mistakes Writers Make: Talking About the Work-in-Progress

The Writer's Digest team has witnessed many writing mistakes over the years, so we started this series to help identify them for other writers (along with correction strategies). This week's writing mistake writers make is talking about the work-in-progress.


Greta K. Kelly: Publishing Is a Marathon

Debut author Greta K. Kelly reveals how the idea for her novel sparked and the biggest surprise of her publication journey.

Poetic Forms

Mistress Bradstreet Stanza: Poetic Forms

Poetic Form Fridays are made to share various poetic forms. This week, we look at the Mistress Bradstreet stanza, an invented form of John Berryman.