Friday, February 10, 2012

You Are Not The Anomaly - In Most Cases

I love listening to writers talk about their career and attempt to figure out what is really going on with it. They get rejections. They get bad reviews. They fight to get that great contract. The list goes on and on. But in each of these cases, I often hear authors attempting to justify what they are doing, or make a comparison with something happening in their writing career with the anomalies of the business.

I have brought this up before here on the blog, but we cannot compare apples and oranges. What a New York Times Bestselling author is doing or getting is not going to be the same for a new author. What works for one person may not work for you if the situations are not the same. Sure, we can look to these individuals and find inspiration, but making us equal to these individuals will not work.

There is another aspect of this to consider. If you are the anomaly. I congratulate you. You are doing awesome so stick with that. For example... if you are in the e-pub market and bringing in over $30,000 a year in income from royalties and advances, way to go! But, your situation is the anomaly. You cannot tell other authors that they will do the same.

I would also have to argue that using this "chance" that you could be the anomaly, is not a smart approach when it comes to your writing career. In this case, think about the mathematical concept of probability vs. possibility. Is it possible you could be the exception? Sure. Is it possible you could be the next Stephanie Myers? Sure. Is it probable? Hmmmm.

As you dive into this weekend, this might be a great time for you to really ground yourself a bit. Look to the clouds and your dreams, but please. Keep it real!



  1. Whether epubbing, self pubbing or trad pubbing this is such a smart way to approach the business. Realizing the outliers can't be replicated. I like to look at the non-outliers making good money and see what they are doing. Or better yet, do the research, write the best I can and then go from there.

  2. I'm not sure about this one, Mr. Eagan. I am a nobody. I've only written two pieces of work in my life. A short story that was published, and a novel I'm feverishly editing to pitch at the ChicagoSF2012. I graduated from the IU School of Dentistry; no fancy creative writing degree. However, two years ago, I began a journey that has burrowed beneath my skin and festered into a passion I never knew existed. I have followed your blog (which I think is awesome!) and agree that some authors can be the most thick-headed, arrogant people I've ever met. But I whole-heartedly believe I would NEVER tell ANYONE "You're not the anomaly. Seriously, look at how slim your chances are." Are you right? Probably. But the people who believe they are, are not going to change their minds OR writing style/technique to be that anomaly. I can take harsh criticism. In fact, I encourage it and feed off of it. Nothing was ever improved by sugar coating a situation.

    Again, I'm a nobody, and I know that. No one should have an opinion about my post because I'm not speaking with the training and experience YOU have. For ME, I never, ever, want to write my story thinking, "This will probably get nowhere, and I'll be lucky to make enough from it to buy groceries." I write my story thinking, "Oh Dear Baby Jesus, please let an agent LOVE this story so it can be given to the world so they might enjoy it too!" And if I get rewarded with an army of loyal followers....hallelujah! And I hope to find an agent who WANTS a writer that feels the way I do. So, my opinion? DREAM ON, DREAMERS! But, don't think yourself infallible, and take ever drop of advice you can get!

  3. So true.

    Calibrating one's thoughts to the reality of the situation, of the industry, and not being driven by fame and fortune is well-advised (yet so difficult to do--this is the business of writing stories with mostly happy endings, hoping ours is one of them). Unfortunately, many a writer type "Chapter 1" with a true audience of one: themselves. This is our world. Our dream. So disconnected we can become with reality, we'd be as likely to land a best-seller as an NBA player trying to slam dunk with hundred pound ankle-weights.

    I will confess. That latter writer used to be me.



  4. C.L.
    Thank you for your comment. I do want to say that I certainly do not want authors to give up on their dreams. Dreams are the things that get us up each morning and drive us through those tough times.
    The point is, that there are too many people out there that seem to think their writing situation is exactly the same as those people who happened to stumble across the success. Making those comparisions will, in most of the cases, lead to potential disappointment. When that "random" occurance that created the anomaly writer doesn't happen to them... then what?

    Please, keep your dreams, but also remember that you can make dreams happen if the dreams have an element of reality attached to them.