Sunday, September 27, 2015

Maybe You Suck

Some people don't like me preaching on and on about how luck is possibly the single most important factor of success.

Some of these folks insist that good writing will always find an audience.

Some say those with success deserve it.

Some say my insistence that luck is important is a form of humble bragging, since I've sold a few million books.

Some don't like the fact that luck is beyond their control, and they believe talent and hard work always win out.

Some think they make their own luck.

I'll bite. Let's say I'm wrong. Let's say luck isn't as big of a factor as I think.

Have you reached the level of success you want? If so, and you don't believe luck was involved, good for you. I suppose you can make a case for yourself, the same way every self-made millionaire makes a case when they write their inevitable "How I Did It" books. I don't know how many people have read the Essays of Warren Buffet and then became billionaires, but perhaps a lot have. Maybe good, solid advice, a strong work ethic, and loads of talent, coupled with a how-to template, can make anyone a raging success.

But what if you aren't a raging success, and you still don't believe in luck?

Well, maybe you suck.

Maybe your writing isn't as good as you think it is.

Maybe those covers you bought on Fiverr look like they cost $5 and are scaring people away.

Maybe you were wrong to think that Loch Ness Monster LGBT BDSM Amish Space Opera was the next big thing.

Maybe you need a better editor. Or an editor, period.

Maybe you signed your rights over to someone else who sucks.

Maybe you published before you learned how to write well.

Maybe you'll never learn how to write well.

Maybe you spend too much time whining online about how everyone is against you, and not enough time putting out good books.

Maybe you're incapable of putting out good books, no matter how much time you spend at it.

Maybe you dwell too much on defending your publishing decisions, when you should be questioning your publishing decisions.

Maybe you've bought into what the media says about ebooks waning in popularity, because you're stupid.

Maybe your spouse and Mom telling you they like your book doesn't qualify as constructive criticism.

Maybe you're reading too much about publishing and not experimenting enough with publishing.

Maybe your drop in sales isn't about the marketplace; it's about readers not liking your work.

Even if you do account for luck in your definition of success, you might still suck. Maybe it isn't bad timing and crummy breaks that have stalled your career. Maybe your writing is the problem.

Yes, you can self-publish.

That doesn't mean you should.

And it certainly doesn't mean the world owes you a read.

If your sales suck, it might be because you suck.

Maybe you deserve that 1 star review.

Maybe you deserve that #2,543,677 ranking.

Maybe you should go bury your nose in the Elements of Style.

Maybe you need to workshop your next story with a writing group before trying to publish it.

Maybe proof reading isn't an option; it's a necessity.

Maybe all of your excuses are bullshit.

Maybe you're 100% to blame for your depressing career.

Maybe you should quit.


Maybe you can do everything right, and still not reach your measure of success, because you haven't gotten lucky yet.

But I'm willing to admit I might be wrong.