Friday, October 28, 2011

5 Realities Every Artist Must Accept

1. Your Work Isn't For Everyone
No matter how brilliant your work is (or you think it is) some people won't like it.  Others will LOATHE it. Harry Potter and The Sorcerers Stone, the book that started a multi-billion dollar industry and is beloved by generations all over the planet has almost 16,000 one star reviews on Goodreads.  The Giver, a Newbery award winner and a book I feel is one of the most important in children's literature has 4,400 one star reviews. Some people are born to be critics and enjoy doling out the negative and your work will not be the exception.

2. You'll Pay Your Time Before You See A Dime
Malcom Gladwell's the Outliers suggests the key to success at any task is 10,000 hours of practice. That's working around an 8 hour day at something, every day, for about 3-4 years. Take a deep breath.  Chances are you are not going to produce the type of work mentioned in number 1 right away.  Even seemingly overnight successes didn't happen overnight.

3. There WILL Come A Day When Someone or Something Will Make You Want To Quit
See 1 & 2.  Everyone feels beaten down now and then. But that bad review doesn't mean as much as you think it does and your next work might outshine your first.  The only way to know is to keep going. All you have to do is take a five minute tour of the internet to know that plenty of successful people struggle every day with failure. If you want to do something and do it well, keep going.

4. You Should Quit If YOU Want To 
But only because you want to spend your 10,000 hours doing something else.  Like writing in another genre, or trying your hand at graphic arts, or paying more attention to your family.

5. Karma is a Biiiiaaaatch
Once you've spent your 10,000 hours and "made it" don't forget about your roots.  Take a young artist or two under your wing and encourage them on their path to greatness. And don't marginalize someone else's path. I worry for those artists and bloggers out there that publicly bashed indie authors and/or the self-pubbed.  I think the day is coming when they might find themselves in a room, shoulder to cold-shoulder, with folks that got their start that way, folk's whose books are doing very, very, well. In my opinion, a little modesty and humility is not a bad thing to have in this business.


  1. Great advice! I like #5 because I think trad. published authors need to OPEN their eyes and see that there is a new way to publish, and that it's legit. In fact, many of them are getting beaten in sales by some of these indies, and making fun of them isn't exactly pro-active, nor going to make those sales drop.

    Even J.K. Rowling is on-board with indie publishing!

  2. Thanks! Cathies! I would love to have a novel traditionally published some day. (I've already had short fiction published in this way.) I have nothing against it. But I think many authors and publishing professionals tried to ignore what was going on in the marketplace for too long and even tried to sabatoge the indie movement and in so doing burnt some bridges. I think it would be more productive to see the potential in leveraging a developed indie author rather than bringing on a debut with no experience or platform. *Dances, waving hands* Hey, look at me, I have experience and a platform. :)

  3. Excellent advice. I'm rather cheered by the stats in #1. :) My first novel seems to be quite split into love it or hate it camps. LOL!

  4. Thanks, Laura. I had a critique partner once tell me that the best books are the most polarizing because it means they brought out strong opinions in people.

  5. Good post, and great thoughts! #1 is soooo true, and I think you're right about the best books being polarizing. #2 and #5 really resonated with me as well.

  6. Great points! And they are, each one of them, so true. Not everyone will like everything. That's just never possible. I for one, love the HP series, but thought the first book's writing was much weaker and didn't grab me like the rest of the series did. It was my first YA/MG read as an adult. You can easily see how much the author grew as a writer over the course of the series. And that's a series that is a world-wide phenomenon. I couldn't imagine it rating 1 star though. Interesting what people like, or what people will rate down for reasons of jealousy.

    Your points all seem to add up to the fact that writing is hard, it's a time suck, it's not really ever going to be easy, so you have to love it, love it, love it. And ideally you should give back. Perfect things to keep in mind!

    Thanks for sharing.

  7. Thanks Rachel!

    So true. You MUST love it or it won't be worth the effort.


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