Friday, September 12, 2008

Overnight Success Takes 2 to 10 years

STATUS: TGIF (Even though I’m blogging a bit late tonight.)

What’s playing on the iPod right now? IT’S TOO LATE by Carole King

Have you ever noticed that when an author becomes really popular, readers act like the author’s success appeared out of nowhere?

In reality, a big success takes anywhere from 2 to 10 years.

For example, in the young adult world (and in a lot of cases, the adult world as well), Stephenie Meyer’s name is on everyone’s lips. As an author, her Twilight books seem to “come out of nowhere” (if you talk to folks who have recently discovered her).

But the first book TWLIGHT, was originally sold in late 2003 and the initial hardcover of the title released in 2005.

It’s not three years later and suddenly this author’s name is everywhere (including a lot of non-print media). For a lot of folks, it feels like “overnight” success. However, that’s really an imaginary construct. Basically the book just reached critical mass in terms of awareness and thus looks like the success is sudden.

Here’s another great example. I sold my author Ally Carter’s first YA book, I’D TELL YOU I LOVE YOU BUT THEN I’D HAVE TO KILL YOU back in 2005. It released in hardcover in 2006 and it wasn’t until 2 years later that this title hit the New York Times Bestseller list.

Overnight success indeed! I think I would call that more a slow build but except for rare exceptions, that’s how overnight success really happens.