Do you need to be Stephen King?

“There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.” Ernest Hemingway, American author

It seems a lot of people are either writing a book or thinking about writing a book. It’s as much a national past-time as plotting a way to make it onto The Voice or America’s Got Talent. And, it’s easier than becoming an American Ninja Warrior contestant, sort of.

So, when I was asked for publishing advice during a recent interview to promote my book Dune Girl, I had to really think. I have learned a lot about the book world in the last three years, but what would be worth sharing?

This is what I wound up with: “I’m not really qualified to give advice, but I can offer an observation. Like any other profession, book writing is basically a wedding cake. There are a tiny handful of Stephen Kings at the top.

“There’s a small layer of highly skilled writers making a solid living, but not achieving much name recognition under that. In the middle, you have people like me. The writing’s professional, but it’s likely self-published and, money wise, it’s an unusual part-time job at best, not a career. There’s also a large layer of writers who may be self-published or may just be writing in a journal, on a laptop or hand drawing illustrations around their poems in an art book. These are pleasure writers — and there shouldn’t be any shame in that. Writing is writing. It can taste really good at any level.

“However, if you aspire to be in those upper two layers, you just have to know that you need to not only write brilliantly, you have to be a CEO-level business person at the same time. A break will probably be needed in an early stage, as well. That top layer is achievable, but not by most writers.”

Those are tough words, I know. But, it’s a question that every book writer has to answer: Do you need to be Stephen King to be happy?

I did not. In fact, it got to the point that negotiating the traditional publishing world — a step I thought was “success” — was making me unhappy. I chose indie authoring only after taking a long, hard look at the Stephen King issue. Other book writers may answer an entirely different way, but there is no avoiding the question.


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