The Secret Dreamworld of an Aspiring Author by Anna Bell – Luck vs Hard Work
I was having dinner recently with a couple of friends and a full scale war nearly broke out between them when we were talking about being successful. The two of them were at loggerheads, with one person saying that they didn’t believe in luck, instead they felt that successful people worked hard to be where they got to, but the other was claiming that you could be the most talented person in the world but still not catch a break. I swiftly changed the subject, but it got me thinking about publishing. Do you have to be lucky, or will hard work always win out?
I have to admit that I’m slightly torn. I do believe that there is an element of luck involved in many of the good things that have happened to me relating to my writing career. I definitely think that there was luck involved with the release of my first e-book. I didn’t have a clue what I was doing, and without any real promotion the book began to sell. I’ve known other authors work their socks off to promote a book and not sell as many copies. Their books are not inferior, it’s just down to what people buy. I think unless your a well-known bestseller, there’s always going to be an element of luck when trying to predict what will sell. I also believe that timing has a lot to do with success; being in the right place at the right time.
On the other hand, I’m a big believer that hard work has a lot to do with success. At my old work’s Christmas do, one of my ex-work colleagues told me how proud he was of my book success and how it was always nice to see people do well when they’d worked so hard to get there. Now, I was pretty drunk at this point, and pretty feisty, and I may have had a little rant. I said that I’d punch anyone if they said it was easy to get to the stage I was at with my books, as I’d worked really hard (swear words have been deleted during retelling). Now, I’m not usually a violent person, and I can’t imagine that I would actually punch someone, but I guess this is the other side of the argument. I have worked really hard to get to the stage I’m at now, and I don’t want people to belittle it by suggesting that I haven’t.
I think perhaps that’s the key. It’s okay for me to say it’s luck that my books have done well. It’s good timing that I happened to tweet about wanting an agent at a time when my agent was looking for new women’s fiction authors. But if anyone else says to me that I’ve been lucky, I’d probably nod and smile through gritted teeth and be offended. After all, those people that think I’ve been lucky, don’t see me up working until stupid o’clock, not taking weekends off, and constantly having a to-do list as long as my arm.
What do you think? Does it take an element of luck to have bookish success - or is it all hard work? Is it only acceptable if you say it’s luck, rather than someone else?