Modeling your career after news stories


If you followed the link in my previous post to Mary Anne Mohanraj’s FB post, you’ll see someone popping up in comments to recommend she self-publish: “Huge Howley(sic) was making 8,000 a month just on his indie published Wool.”

We all know how much Howey has earned because it was in the news, and the fact that he was in the news is a strong warning against trying to duplicate his success.

I’m not saying absolutely never ever follow Howey’s path. I’m saying that being in the news should be a mark in the “con” column when you consider trying to duplicate his success.

To analogize: You are a new college student who wants to make a quarter million dollars a year when you graduate. Do you pursue an MBA? Get a job as a Wall St. trader? Or do you read an article about a woman who found a priceless painting at a garage sale and think Oh, shit, I need to start hitting every garage sale I can find?

Nothing against garage sales, most of my furniture is second hand, but the reason a story like that hits the newspaper is because it’s a rare event.

Now, obviously, self-publishing success is becoming less rare all the time. Not long ago people wanted to be Amanda Hocking. Now they want to mimic Howey. What’s more, there are lots of self-published authors making decent enough money. That’s all fine and good.

There are also a great many writers earning good money through NY publishers, probably more than you think. The thing is, this doesn’t make the news any more than “Med student makes good living as surgeon after years of hard work” would.

Because it’s common.

I’m not saying people shouldn’t self-publish. I’ve self-published and I expect to again. I’m saying: Don’t point to news stories and tell people that’s a good path to success. I’m waiting for those success stories to be so common they no longer make the news.