Over the past few decades, I've studied best-selling authors. These are the ones who are super-successful, most becoming everyday household names. Ask anyone if they know who these authors are: Stephen King, John Grisham, J. K. Rowling, J. R. R. Tolkien, Tom Clancy, James Patterson, Danielle Steel, Dr. Seuss. In fact, here's a Wikipedia link to a list of the best-selling fiction authors and quite a number of them will jump out at you.
But what separates these authors from all of the others, the ones who also may earn a living writing?
I believe what the superstars do is write completely from the heart, iregardless of what the market is doing. Not that I don't believe all of the others are also writing from the heart, but deep down they may be riding whatever trend is out there.
Take Stephanie Meyer. There were plenty of vampire stories out there (i.e. Anne Rice), but she took it to another level and went somewhere vampire stories never had a home before: in the hearts of millions of teenage girls. It didn't take long before grown women (and men) were reading Meyer's stories. You could even say the same thing about Rowling and her successful Harry Potter series. Harry Potter is a children's story . . . except that they're well-written and just plain fun to read. Nowadays, walk around any book store and you will see tons of book covers that look like either Meyer's or Rowling's stories, because the publishing industry wants to capitalize on the other original idea.
At the genesis of Stephen King's writing career, when he was churning out stories for the . . . what he called the "titty magazines", he came up with the idea for Carrie. Now, he did throw his first attempt in the trash and his wife Tabitha retrieved it, but he went back to it, not even knowing if it could sell. He just wrote. Then, it sold. And he's been writing ever since.
I know, I know, I'm probably not painting a very good picture of the hundreds of other successful writers out there, am I? But, I have to admit, in listening to tons of other podcasts by these other writers, this is what they seem to talk about. They talk about writing for the market instead of just plain writing for the love of writing. It's possible with the advent of ebooks and self-publishing methods, these writers will stretch their wings and be daring, writing whatever is in their hearts.
I hope so. Because there's plenty of room at the top next to King, Grisham, and Rowling.