Contents ©2012 Mike Pascale. Visuals copyright and trademark their respective owners.
Awhile ago, I was involved in a Facebook debate about books with “good” writing vs. those that sold well. The guy with whom I was arguing was ripping on the Harry Potter novels for being lousy, while touting his own abilities as superior.
Problem was, I–and most of the world from what I could tell–had never heard of this guy. He was largely an amateur with little published work to show. Yet he spoke and criticized like a top professional. (Well, near-top. I’ve noticed that most folks at the very tops of their fields aren’t the criticizing type. They tend to be too busy doing great work or counting their dough.) Worse, he was using the success of J.K. Rowling and others as an excuse for his lack of success. The market likes crap so they don’t recognize greatness anymore, was his reasoning.
His responses got me thinking (nothing blew up, thankfully); sure, we’ve seen things that we thought sucked suddenly sell like gangbusters. Heck, McDonald’s sells billions of gut-bombs regularly. But does that always apply to any creative endeavor? Is the reason that certain things you or I like or do not popular really because of “the market”? Or “the economy” like many have said during the bust years of comics or the financial crisis? If that were true, why did other things succeed during those years?
This is what I wrote:
Harry Potter books are good writing–otherwise they wouldn’t be selling so well, have lasted so long and become such an enormous franchise. They’re not just a one-off fluke like some others have been. And what about all the books on the bestseller list? Are you saying your writing is better than ALL of them for the last few years? Hogwash (and Hogwarts), I say. Is it really a case of everyone else sucking and your greatness being unrecognized, or is it more an issue of timing, diligence, faith and/or patience?
The only reason I am not as successful as Alex Ross or Peter David is ME, and me alone. So I’m working on that guy as much as possible and take responsibility for any of my failures, because I can then take all the kudos for any success as well. It’s much more liberating and enjoyable than when I used to blame “the market” or others. (Speaking for myself only, of course.)
Where your abilities, talents and experience line up with the public’s interest, that’s where your success will lie. It’s finding that match and compromise that takes time, effort, patience and perseverance. Who will believe in your success if you don’t?
Just get better at what you do, keep writing, keep submitting, keep learning and networking until you make that important sale, then market yourself and your work for all it’s worth. Why should you be any different than those who have made it? The odds of winning Powerball or MegaMillions are about 170 to 195 million to one. Compare that with the number of successful writers vs. wannabes, and you’ll see the latter still has MUCH better odds.
There is a ton of success out there available to you. I hope you find it because you deserve it!
As always, let me know what YOU think in the Comments section.
P.S.: Want a personal, original commission of your favorite Harry Potter character? Or any other? Just ask Craig here!