Inspiration Post: The Myth of Overnight Success

The Myth of Overnight Success

Let’s face it, both writing science fiction / fantasy and publishing independently is a lot of work. Most people treat these two paths as completely separate careers because there is so much to be done for each, so much to learn. Sometimes, the work load can be overwhelming, and if we aren’t seeing instant results, we can get discouraged. Other times, we get so discouraged, even, that we think what we’re doing just isn’t working.

Well, I’m here to call BS on that, and to tell you that what you’re doing IS working! You just have to be patient and consistent. I’ve been watching successful authors and other artists out here, both independently and traditionally published, and you know what I’ve noticed?

Except in truly unusual circumstances, most authors, bloggers / vloggers, and anyone else who has ever made it big in life do not hit big time until about 4-6 years after they first debuted in their market!

(And sometimes, even longer.)

I kid you not. Unless you’re already a celebrity, do NOT expect overnight success in much of anything. Actually, even celebrities (most of them) had to start small and work hard for a long time to get where they are. Think about the actors and authors we know well: George Clooney, Shia LeBeouf, J.K Rowling, Stephen King… none of these artists walked onto the silver screen or into the literary arena and wowed the world instantly. It took time, effort, grit, and good ole fashioned elbow grease.

“Overnight success” is never overnight; it just seems that way because we don’t hear about most people until they make it big! Also, the movie or publishing industries have a knack for creating these “instant sweetheart” images while leaving most of their clients’ histories in the dark. Don’t believe everything you see! Trust me, most of the big timers nowadays didn’t start off that way and took quite a while to get where they were going:

  • Clooney started off in television in 1978, and no one even sneezed his way until he played Dr. Doug Ross in ER almost SIXTEEN YEARS LATER!
  • Shia LeBeouf started off in comedy clubs when he was 10-years-old (because his family was broke), and then he hit the Disney channel for a while. Point is, he didn’t have a career breakthrough until ELEVEN YEARS LATER, when he starred in Disturbia. Now his career is taking off, and neither he nor his family will ever be broke again.
  • Stephen King, the prophet of horror writing and one of the most successful fiction writers alive today, wrote his first novel, Carrie, in 1973 which HE THREW IN THE TRASH because he had been discouraged about writing altogether. His wife fished it out for him and urged him to finish it, and as we all know, the rest is history. Mind you, he was also an alcoholic at this time, and so he had the double burden of forcing himself to keep going while dealing with his illness and with his mother’s passing.
  • J.K. Rowling could barely get Harry Potter published anywhere, and even when she did, it took five years and three whole books later for the world to pick up on her brilliance. I need not go further as 99% of us know and love her work all too well!

But the bottom line is that these artists that we love so much had to work at their craft, keep their noses to the grindstone, keep trying things from different angles, and most importantly, they had to BE PATIENT. You shouldn’t expect to do anything less, either. Expect to work hard, virtually round the clock, for a few years (maybe even a decade), branding yourself, marketing yourself, strengthening yourself and your skills, and producing good, quality work, in order to get that “overnight success”.

Let me share a secret with you: “Big breaks” and “overnight success” are planned, ladies and gentlemen! Very few people ever stumble accidentally into a “big break”, and even if they do, if these stumblers aren’t really about anything, or if they aren’t doing anything worthwhile, they sort of fall into ridicule. (Kim Kardashian and Paris Hilton, anyone? Stunningly beautiful women, but not really doing anything valuable or attention-worthy, in my opinion… but I digress!)

So, how do you plan your “big breakthrough” as an author? Well stay tuned, because the very next post is going to list out my personal observations of how very successful people have successfully planned and executed their big breaks, what I’m going to do to model them, and some action tips on how you can do the same! I want to make it big just like them, just like you, and there’s no reason that we can’t do it together! 🙂 So stay tuned!

In the meantime, keep at it, and as always, keep it indie,

<3 Colby

5 thoughts on “Inspiration Post: The Myth of Overnight Success

  1. Anh says:

    I like how you’ve applied the theme on perseverence to writing. Sometimes its easy to forget that especially for writers, success can be a long way away, and then theres also the unlucky few who get critically successful after their passing.

    • Colby R Rice says:

      Hi Anh!

      Totally! You hit the nail right on the head, especially with your comment on posthumous fame (which is always unfortunate). Writing can be a very isolating experience sometimes, and we can get stuck in our own heads. My next posts on this topic will be about recognizing things you HAVE achieved and tips on how to “plan your big break”! Thanks for your comments, and thanks for stopping by! 🙂 Come back soon!


  2. Janice Seagraves says:

    The people you mentioned were also dirt poor when they started out. J.K. Rowlings was on aid after just having a baby. Stephen King was a English teacher and working nights as a janitor, trying to support his family. How he manage to find time to write let alone sleep, I really don’t know. But to both these writers writing was like breathing. They had to do it.

    Plan to make it big. Write with joy in your heart and that joy will shine through.


    • Colby R Rice says:

      Exactly! And thanks for your warm words, Janice. Our vocation truly is a wonderful one! 🙂 Please come back again soon!


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