Thursday, July 24, 2008

Talent Vs. Publicity - Which Is The Key To Success?



I recently wrote in an email that "being a successful author has just as much to do with marketing and networking as with writing skill." I thought this might be a controversial statement to some, and so decided to expand upon my idea.

First of all, is it possible to be successful without talent? In this day and age, the answer is a resounding YES! I'm sure that as soon as I mentioned it, several names popped into your head, most likely from the pop culture arena. These people make money and stay successful simply by staying in the public eye.

Second, is it possible to be successful without publicity? I could imagine someone writing the Great American Novel while holed up in a cave and then making millions because of the sheer awesomeness of the book. However, I don't think it's very likely.

Granted, you (probably) don't want to be one of those talentless people who cling to fame long after their fifteen minutes are up. But at the same time, you can't rely on your skills alone to take you to the top, no matter how good you are. My advice is to at least consider putting decent effort into promoting your artistic pieces de resistance.

And one more note about the notion of talent - it's constantly changing. For most of the history of writing, there has been a very strict standard for what constitutes a good story. However, with the coming of the internet and the explosion of blogs and other outlets for personal expression, "good writing" isn't necessarily what it used to be. For example, I love the writing on Cracked.com (not suitable for all audiences). It's entertaining, relevant, and intelligent, despite the fact that it's probably not going to be featured in any literary magazines or take home any prestigious literary awards. The Digg ratings that most of the articles receive show I'm not the only person who appreciates the site. So if you're searching for success, stop agonizing over whether your work is the best it could possibly be, and start reaching out to the reading community - both online and off.
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