Thursday, October 8, 2015

The All-Time Logical Fallacy (Or, How I Saved $99.99)

There is a logical fallacy among many writers (witness the blogs and their followers) that goes like this: You sell lots of books; if I study how you did it, I  will sell lots of books, too. This thinking doesn't, of course, take into account the factor of fortunate coincidence: in the first writer's case, certain events occurred that probably won't happen again in your case. But the second factor, and what this little blog exercise really is about, is what I call the logical fallacy of success. Here it is: Your ability to do something doesn't automatically mean I have the same ability.

Let's face it. Some people are smarter than other people. That is why they happen to succeed, because they thought their way into it. Or maybe they're more talented, so they wrote books that more people wanted to read. Just because author Jones can write unputdownable books doesn't mean author Smith can do the same. For author Smith to spend $99.99 to take author Jones' course on How to Sell Books is a foolish expenditure, if viewed in this light.

Now I'm going to tell you the secret of selling lots of books as it's come to me: write books people want to read. Can everyone do that? No. Can  you? If factor one (the fortunate coincidence of events) and factor two (the level of IQ or talent) are both present, the answer for you is "maybe." Why only maybe? Because you might throw up your hands and give up on book nine when book ten was the one that was really going to sell. Or maybe you're writing romance when it's really erotica that's your gift.

But here's the bottom line. Can you write and sell books and quit the day job? You won't know until you try. And try. And try.

That's what the rest of us did.

But save the $99.99. That's the price of admission for one day at Seaworld. (I know, Shamu is a victim of his own success. My wife is actively campaigning to set them all free, so got that covered. Which leaves me more time to write. But seriously, go to Seaworld rather than take someone's course for $99.99. If you don't yet understand how the oblique leads to the unique in your art, you might not be ready.)


Mykol Hamilton said...

Excellent advice.

Paul Tipping said...

I whole heartedly agree. I spent my adult life as a successful sales man till I was 40 I taught various people along the way - but no one lasted. They used my script - but weren't me!

admin said...

Exactly, Paul. There are some many variables--it doesn't mean someone else won't be successful, but more likely than not, they'll do it their way, not my/your way.

admin said...

There are so many factors in things like writing best sellers or trying the best lawsuit. It's too easy to pay $99 and tell ourselves we're on our way. Any art takes thousands of hours of preparation by practice.