Authors, like James Patterson and Stephen King, have gotten into the business of selling “their knowledge,” claiming they have the secrets which will make you a successful writer. Okay, they don’t actually promise that, but the assumption is well. Follow him/her and you, too, will be a well-known author!
NEWSFLASH! IT DOESN’T WORK THAT WAY
Masters writers are what we aspire to be. They make a lot of money, hold the valuable space in bookstores, get the big advertising dollars, and have access to interviews and talks across the country, if not the world. They sell a lot of damn books. They’ve made it! But, in this new age of publishing, where publishing houses are doing less and less, budgets are smaller, staffs thinner, the opportunity for a no-name author to get attention is remote. Well-known authors may offer courses on how to be the “next” Stephen King or Dan Brown, but do they instruct you how to become a success?
REALITY IS UGLY
In the article, “With Fewer Debut Novels Selling, What Do Editors Want To Tell Authors?” , Publishers Lunch’s Michael Cader noted debuts were “way” down. He noted, in the weeks leading up to London Book Fair in 2016 there were 34 debut fiction sales, 37 in 2017, and only 27 debut fiction deals in 2018. The opportunity for new writers in traditional publishing is not growing. Writers are fighting for fewer and fewer spots.
OPTIMISM VS OPPORTUNITY
I’m not suggesting you shouldn’t indulge in courses from best-selling authors. I’m sure they have a bundle of helpful advice. Master writers offer priceless experience and knowledge. Well, not priceless MasterClass will charge you $180 for a year’s access to learn from master writers like Dan Brown, Margaret Atwood, and Neil Gaiman. If you can fit it into your budget, taking courses that help you grow as a writer from people who have walked-the-walk and have proven successful should be a part of your repertoire. But I wonder if these masters of writing were in the trenches with debut authors of today, would they be so optimistic about their keys to success? Or would they give up because it is so damn hard?
DON’T SEEK PROOF… IT’S NOT THERE
I’m a hardworking, committed writer. I have pushed myself to learn everything I can about writing and the industry. I don’t know many who have kept up a passion for success as I have. If there was a roadmap–a mountain to climb, or a river to forge–that would prove me successful, I would have found it and done it. I would be shouting it off the rooftops to all my fellow writers to do the same. I want everyone who works hard, and is committed, to find their success. But I haven’t found the roadmap. I am not sure the masters of writing have “the” proven methodology to success either. Authors like John Grisham, J.K. Rowling, or Judy Blume hold keys to their success, and maybe are just as passionate to share with others. Their aspirations are noble.
The truth is, nobody’s advice is going to work for you. In publishing, you have to find your own path, travel down it, and if it leads to nowhere, find another one, and another one, until you see a clearing. We are all looking for someone to tell us how it’s done. I honestly wish I had the answers. I can only offer my inspirational spirit and encourage you to keep writing because you love to.
Believe in yourself. That is what I do. I am not giving up. I am still searching for the opportunity. And when I find it, I’ll let you know. Maybe I’ll have my own Master Class.