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JA Konrath on luck

Discussion in 'Publishing' started by Steerpike, Sep 28, 2015.

  1. kennyc

    kennyc Inkling

    Was reading this thread yesterday....ran across this article just now:

    Russ and acapes like this.
  2. Russ

    Russ Istar

    Really good article. I don't think one can or should underestimate the importance of building good personal relationships in building a successful career. I am always pleasantly surprised with what happens when I socialize with very successful people in the publishing field. I find most of them kind, thoughtful and helpful.
  3. Legendary Sidekick

    Legendary Sidekick The HAM'ster Moderator

    I definitely agree with Joe. His "maybe you suck" article really makes his case.

    Of course talent and perseverance are factors (within the writer's control), but the most wildly successful people I know admit to luck being a factor. R.A. Salvatore (who lives ~5 miles northwest of me, but I don't consider him "someone I know") told me he "got lucky" and "wrote the right book at the right time."

    If you think of luck as the factors outside of your control (such as the right person discovering your book or someone getting movie rights to a story that's coincidentally similar to your 90%-complete WIP), then it's hard to make the case that successful people aren't lucky to an extent.

    EDIT - @Russ, very true! I've found successful writers and other creative artists are very helpful and encouraging when it comes to advice. Especially when I compare them to people in other fields (such as education) where some successful people are snobs with a superiority complex.
    Last edited: Oct 3, 2015
    Steerpike likes this.
  4. psychotick

    psychotick Auror


    I don't always agree with Jo, but in this case I do 100%. Yes luck is a huge factor. And here I refer to luck as factors that cannot be controlled.

    But it's important to realise that as Goins says, you don't have to simply accept it. You can nail down some of those factors that are luck and make them yours.

    So Konrath says go for quality and volume. Abso-bloody-lutely! If you want your best chance of making a success of this business, then you need to put out more books and they need to have good covers, good blurbs, be well edited and have good plots etc. This is the minimum you need to do. The idea of putting out one book and simply expecting to be an overnight success is basically crap. This is a marthon not a sprint.

    Look at it this way. It's a lottery. There are things you can control and things you can't. But the first thing every author can control is how many tickets he has. The more tickets the more chances.

    Next there are rules to help authors. One is write series. Another is stick to a single genre. I do neither but that's just me. In essence these rules help you to get more tickets and place them in a smaller section of the lottery thus increasing your chances of being noticed.

    Promotion is valuable. How valuable I don't know. And the bitter truth is that no one knows. Yes there are zealots who talk about getting perma frees in book one of their series. There are zealots who talk about using particular add campaigns. There are zealots who talk about using social media including mailing lists and so forth. There are zealots who talk about pricing as if it was the golden goose. Problem is they're all zealots. What works for one will not work for another. And what worked once may not work again. To me most promotions are a hit and miss thing. As for me I don't promote. I go back to basics and write more books. Twenty three out at present. I never change my book prices either. These days it's $3.99 for a novel, 0.99c for a shorty. I've got no freebies and won't have any. My social media skills are crap too.

    Next we can talk about reading the market and looking at what's hot and trying to guess the upcoming trends. Again I don't do it, but what the hell - I'm an antediluvian with limited PC skills and no interest in most such things. So my thought is first how much time can I spend writing more books if I don't spend my time looking for market research gold? And second even if I knew for certain what was going to be the next big thing, could I write that book? (I'm a pure pantster for those who don't know.)

    And last you can analyse successes and failures - though of course no one analyses failures which is 99% of the problem. So if a book does well who can say whether it was due to good promotion, good writing, good cover, good blurb etc. Or if it was just dumb luck - the right book in the right place. For your information in a few instances you can. Hugh Howie for example attributes his success to a certain celeb having read his book Wool and raved about it. Of course the other bases with the book - cover / blurb / writing are covered too.

    As for my success it's up and down. I know some genres do better for me than others - pity I can't stick to them. I know that covers are vital - and for that reason using cover artists I respect is my new best laid plan. And I know that some changes in markets can send me flying through the atmosphere or sinking beneath the ocean. KU2 for example just tripled my income which was very nice. So I hope Amazon continue with it.

    I also know that the more books I have out there the better my chances become - which is why writing more books is my plan.

    As for success, so far this year I've put out two novels. The first - The Stars Betrayed has failed dismally and probably earned around five hundred bucks. The second - The Arcanist has done well netting me around twenty K in the last few months. And while I have some idea of the reasons for the difference - specifically genres and cover, I don't actually know it.

    But what I do know is that the more books I put out the more chances I have to strike another Arcanist.

    Cheers, Greg.
    Svrtnsse and kennyc like this.
  5. kennyc

    kennyc Inkling

    and what an appropriate goodreads quote of the day:

    "Some things in life are out of your control. You can make it a party or a tragedy."
    - Nora Roberts
    Happy birthday, Nora Roberts! Her novels have spent a combined 861 weeks on The New York Times Best Seller list—almost two and a half years.
  6. M P Goodwin

    M P Goodwin Scribe

    I have twenty years of experience in my chosen career, in a field of work that is trying to say the least, and there are few difficulties that I cannot overcome with the right planning, right attitude etc. But when all looks likely to fail, I have always relied on luck and with good measure, as that has seen me through some very problematic times. However, I am an utter novice when it comes to publishing and having reviewed these few threads I am very heartened by what I have read. It seems to me that whilst there are various formulas for gaining momentum, developing strategies and approaching the rather gargantuan task of writing, editing, publishing and then marketing a novel, the truth appears to be the same as it is in any field; hard graft, unwavering self belief, worthy colleagues and friends and perhaps above all...some talent for the work itself. Beyond that it appears we are all in the lap of the gods/monotheistic belief system/quantum field variability we cleave to...or as is more often the term, 'luck', and that alone is actually quite comforting to me, given my past experience.

    And wandering slightly off topic, I now realise that I have a great deal more to learn in regard to self-publishing despite, or more likely entirely due, to having actually published one novel, and discussions such as these are the exact form of mentoring that any apprentice might find from simply being in the company of the old hands on the shop floor so to speak, so many thanks from an old apprentice.
  7. Steerpike

    Steerpike Felis amatus Moderator

    Seems self-evidently true that luck factors play a certain role. You can see this just by looking at traditional publishing, where it is easier to make a given book stand out because the field is smaller. There are some very good fantasy novels by writers who got a traditional publishing contract, got good promotion from a company that knows how to promote, got review blurbs from well-known authors, etc., and for whatever reason they just never made it. It happens. You can do everything right and still not succeed. If you do everything right, though, you increase your odds of succeeding.

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