Want to be a successful writer? It’s a stupid question really. Everyone who seriously puts pen to paper wants to be a success and they dream of the lifestyle that goes with it. The truth is that not that many people get to make a full-time living from their writing and even fewer make the jump to the big time.
Those that really make it big are often not very good writers who happen to hit a nerve at the right time that makes people buy their books. What on earth made everyone go out and buy Dan Brown’s the The Da Vinci Code
? I’m sure most of the copies sold weren’t ever read. A madness took hold of us, the zeitgeist – whatever. While The Da Vinci Code
was selling in squillions, hundreds of other well-written, worthy and probably better books were written but never made the jump into the book buying public’s imagination.
So what can you do to give yourself an advantage? I think there is one simple thing that you can do that will help you get a foot on the rung of the best-seller’s list. People buy stuff that is already selling. If you can show that others are buying your books then it makes it easier to sell the next one. Buyers like to know they have made a good decision and if everyone else has bought the book, then the chances are they’ve all made a good decision. If they haven’t then at least they all go down in flames together.
There really is a simple thing that you can do. I probably applies to every other profession too.
When I was at school, I lined up at the end of the hall, because my surname began with an R, which put me, everyday, at the end of the queue with all the other no hopers… the Smiths, the Thomases and the Wilsons.
The Adams, the Browns and the Coopers would get fed first, get picked for the team first and would generally get a fraction more time at stuff than us, waiting to be chosen at the end. So they got more practice and a heightened sense of entitlement. It’s taken me this long in my life to work it out!
What should you do to become a successful author? Change your name of course! The brilliant thing about publishing a book is that you can have a nom de plume.
A name like Aaaron Aardvark will get you to the top of the list – the first choice that readers are given. Most buyers can’t be bothered to go any further and will buy your book because it is there in front of them. Any advantage is an advantage. Looking back I can see many situations where things would have been easier if I’d been thrown up to the top of the list by the simple fact of having a different name.
It’s probably too late for me now, I’d have to develop an alter ego and write quite different books – but then again… maybe that’s an idea I should follow up?