I am a fairly good writer but I will never be a famous one. For at least three reasons:
1. I don’t spend time and money acquiring an audience.
Marketing guru Seth Godin says:
In the era of permission marketing, the writer already knows her readers, the writer already has the ability to contact those readers. If not the writer, then the publisher or the bookstore. And that connection is an asset, a valuable one. It means that the attention is already there but must be re-earned regularly. … The losers at the end of this round are obvious: entities that haven’t bothered to build a direct connection with readers.
Successful writers tend to be incessant self-promoters or to have agents or publishers who are. I’m not and I don’t.
2. I’m a generalist, not a specialist.
Over the last 15 years I’ve written or edited: business books, juvenile fiction, self help, first chapter books (coming out this summer), ministry tools, biography and autobiography. This eclectic output makes me hard to categorize or view as an expert in any particular genre.
Even my blog lacks a single focus (it has three.) I have a Christian worldview but sound more like an agnostic. I ask open-ended questions and offer few answers, which can be frustrating. OPEN Mike is a mishmash of perspicacious insight and sagacious wit (not to mention arcane palaver).
3. I write at the red wine level.
Many accomplished writers were angst-ridden souls who consumed prodigious amounts of distilled spirits, e.g., Hemmingway (“A man does not exist until he is drunk”), Thompson, Joyce, Fitzgerald (“First you take a drink, then the drink takes a drink, then the drink takes you”), Kerouac, Joyce, Parker, Faulkner (“Civilization begins with distillation”).
I have my share of existential anxieties but I don’t have the palate—or the pocketbook—for hard liquor.
I have no illusion about making a living as an author; still I continue to write every day because it connects me to others. Not enough people to support my habit, but enough to keep me going.
If writers were good businessmen,
they’d have too much sense to be writers.
-Irvin S. Cobb