Sunday, April 22, 2012

Instant Success? The Myth of the Rowlings, Konraths, and Hockings

This is my article that was posted at Readers’ Realm last week.

Many people today are afraid of hard work. I have an aversion to some types myself—like scrubbing toilets. However, I get to scrub the toilet because I have a toilet. In many areas of the world, people are not so lucky. When my mother was growing up, she used an outhouse.

With a slight attitude change, I may not enjoy scrubbing the toilet, but at least I understand it’s all part and parcel of having a clean bathroom!

Many writers today have the same aversion to hard work as I do to scrubbing toilets. Some writers, believe it or not, do not even like to read. I think these people just want to throw a bunch of words onto their computers and pray for instant success. Kind of like the instant soup I have in my pantry. Throw it in a bowl, add water, and you have soup. abcsoup

Yes, you have soup. But do you know what instant soup tastes like? The soup would be much tastier if I weren’t so doggone lazy. I could cut up tomatoes, potatoes and carrots.

Or, better yet, I could grow fresh vegetables and harvest them to make the soup. And, I could search for the very best soup recipes.

Making a truly gourmet soup takes time and effort and sweat.  soup

When you are not a reader, when you have not read the very best books, when you have not learned your craft, you really have no idea what gourmet soup a good book tastes like. Perhaps you are satisfied with instant book because that is all you have ever tasted, but will your readers be?

On my personal website, my most popular post to date has been What's J.K. Rowling's Secret to Success? I believe its popularity is due to writers searching for the easy way to success. That’s not what they find when they read the article. To quote myself: J.K. Rowling worked hard to learn story, theme, and character development and implemented what she learned. We forget that she studied French and Classics at the “Ivy League” University of Exeter and was a Hemione-like student, according to her own words.

Yet, Rowling is not the only one some people believe achieved instant success. Many point to successful self-published authors and believe it can be achieved sans work.

One blogger had this to say about that notion:

We live in a world of instant gratification, where you can upload a video to Youtube on a Monday and be on the Today show discussing it by Friday. We don’t want to work for things anymore. We are not interested in staying the course, building character or perfecting our craft. We are just interested in money and a fan base. Even people, who do work hard and struggle for years end up being called an overnight success. Take two very successful self-published authors, J. A Konrath and Amanda Hocking as examples. Both have been ridiculed for writing a crappy book, slapping it up on Amazon and just “Getting Lucky”. What people don’t know is that J. A Konrath has been submitting his work to publishers since the early eighties. That’s longer than a lot of his naysayers have been alive, but we never hear about that. People put down Amanda Hocking for being a young girl in her early twenties who “Got Lucky” writing a book while working a fulltime job as a caretaker. No one ever mentions that she has written books her whole life and completed 17 novels before she ever started self-publishing. How many people can say that? Plus, everyone likes to breeze over the fact that while most of us sit on the couch channel surfing after work, she was up all hours of the night writing books and going after her dreams. Never mind that the so-called “Crap” they write has been loved around the world by millions of adoring fans. Let’s just put them and their work down to stroke our own egos, while we stair longingly at J.K. Rowlings picture on our wall. ~ Why Are We So Afraid of Hard Work?

There is no easy way to make a great soup write a great book. There is no secret to success—except that of hard work.

Are we willing to settle for instant book that readers may spit out when they get a taste? Or, are we willing to work hard to garner success?

The choice is ours. We still may not like scrubbing toilets the hard work of learning our craft, reading, reading, reading, and buckling down to write, but we can learn to be thankful for the opportunities we have.

Writing is hard work, but I still prefer it to scrubbing toilets.


  1. Great post, Sheila. Yes, hard work lies behind every instant success story. Our society seems to be lacking the initiative to do the work to be truly successful. Perfect illustrations for making your point.


Thanks for sharing your thoughts.