Monday, March 26, 2012
What is Your Author Talent Class?
I've been looking forward to this post for a few days. The topic is dear to my heart and was first initiated after reading John Locke's book on how he sold a million books. What he said really struck me. He was one of the first authors I've heard admit that he may not be the best, nor will he ever be the best writer.
Amazing. I love the humility and the honesty.
I got to thinking about that in a guest post I wrote the other day and wanted to expand on this concept of author talent class. And yes, I'm referring to talent in the same way we refer to social classes in economics. It is my belief that there are three author classes and I wanted to open this up for discussion. I wanted to bring this up because the more I thought about it, the more I realized that it was important to understand in order for me to move up the social, or talent ladder.
Here's what I think. As the founder of The Kindle Book Review, I have found, and correct me or add if needed, that there are essentially three talent classes: upper, middle, poverty. Are there classes in between? Yes. But I believe that indie authors in particular need to examine where they fit in this scale because your placement can have a huge impact not only in sales, but also in the perception that readers have of the rest of us. (Having said that, remember that if you see any typos, it is 4:22 a.m. ~ grace accepted).
The first class is The Upper Class Author ~ I don't mean to make this class sound uppity or snobbish. I did want to align them with a higher crust because that's what they are; skilled, and trained literary artisans. They have or soon will get the recognition they deserve. They have spent years writing, working with editors, studying the craft, writing books that they never published and have now broke into the indie author field. They are true professionals who have honed their craft. Most of us are not in this category. If you are a newer author, do not deceive yourself. These authors are few and far between.
The second tier is The Middle Class Author ~ The middle class author is the up and coming author. They are the authors who have put out a couple of books, taken their lumps, are learning from their mistakes and putting out creative and entertaining reads. They are growing their platform and their audience. But, they are not true masters. They are good, but not great, I include myself in this crowd. We are by far the largest group in the indie author talent pool, and we are the masses who are beginning to turn the heads of readers. With such large numbers, readers can't help to notice that indie authors are a force to be reckoned with. What's really encouraging is, many of us will move into the upper class over time. Some will make deals and step into the trad pub zone, and some will quit because life happens. But we are many and we are good, maybe better than good in some cases.
The third tier is The Poverty Class ~ This group is the group of authors who think they know how to write. They think they know how to structure a novel length story. they think they know how to create lovable characters and develop them. They think they can self-edit their work and put out a quality product when in fact, they cannot. This class is talent deficient and doing readers as well as the rest of their indie author peers great harm. This class is either delusional or deceptive in regards to the quality of the product they are selling. Can they grow? Can they change and move up the ranks? Can this class pick themselves up from their bootstraps? Yes. Many of them can. Some just may not be creative enough or have the determination to continue, but I believe anyone can be taught to at least step up to the middle class.
Anyway, I wanted to throw that out there and gather some opinions. Maybe I'm being to harsh? Maybe you are thinking about this for the first time. If so, that's good. What do you think?
Jeff Bennington is the best-selling author of Reunion, Twisted Vengeance, and The Indie Author's Guide to the Universe.