Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Why Isn't Every Writer Famous?

Most authors have the same dream … to be a bestselling author, make tons of money and contacts, gain millions of fans, have a movie deal or five, gain respect from the masses and forever be known for our craft.

There are probably millions of writers throughout the world, but only few in comparison live that writer's dream.


Well, it has to do with a lot of factors. No single author could follow the exact same footsteps as another author and have the exact same outcome. There are so many minute differences that the outcome will never be the same.

Remember in the movie Jurassic Park, when Jeff Goldblum's character, Dr. Ian Malcolm, was talking to a woman about the butterfly effect? He took a drop of water and allowed it to run down the back of her hand, and then he did it again with another drop of water. Even though he placed the second droplet in the exact same place as the first, the second droplet didn't run down her hand in the exact same path of the first droplet as she predicted. Why? According to Malcolm, "Tiny variations never repeat and vastly affect the outcome. Which is unpredictability."

So no matter what you do to mimic successful, bestselling celebrity-status authors, you will not come to the same conclusion. You may come close to or even succeed that writer dream, and that's a good way to look at it too.

What are "tiny variations" in publishing?

  • The story itself. No two books are exactly alike. They may have come from the same idea but different authors use their different skills and come up with different stories.

Remember those games we used to play in grade school. One person tells a short story into another person's ear, by the time the story makes its rounds between ten other people it has changed vastly. The same with stories written by authors, the characters, the motives, the descriptions, the conflict, it all contains tiny and mostly significant variations that affect the outcome and overall reading experience.

  • The book's audience. Just because one book is getting rave reviews doesn't mean another following its same path with get the same reviews. And we all know how powerful word-of-mouth advertising is. The more buzz surrounding your book, the greater the chance more people will take notice of it.

People, like literary agents and book publishers, movie directors and even celebrities who can endorse your book. Or for some, their buzz might just result in an increase readership and their relatives finally taking them seriously as a writer. It's never the same for everyone.

  • Pure luck. Yes, I went there. To be brief and blunt, some people have it and others don't. Even some authors who get six figure book deals and movie contracts sometimes don't know how it happened. Some don't even try, they publish a book and the book just takes off without any promotion at all. Trust me, it happens. I chalk it off as pure luck. Some have it. Some don't.

So here we are, millions of authors vying for the same attention, the same respect, and the same outcomes as some of the lucky greats before us and the lucky greats even beside us. When the best thing we can do for ourselves is write the best stories we're capable of, work hard to do what we do best, keep striving but ultimately let the cards fall where they may and enjoy the experience.
We'll all have a unique writing experience and that's what makes writing so special to begin with. Let's cherish the unpredictability.

Do you know some tiny variations that you would like to add? Leave a comment.

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