These are the units used to calibrate human success. We all do it.
We’re obsessed with numbers, from bank balances to clothing sizes.
Yes, we’ve allowed numbers to judge who wins or loses.
No wonder our writer’s craft is measured by book rankings and royalties.
But is it fair? Specially, as that thing we do is artistry…
Our words tear at the soul, warm the heart, craft fantasies, and inspire, and inform. Readers weep, laugh, shriek, rant and question our ideas.
How’s it possible to reduce so much emotion into cold uncompromising numbers?
“The pure emotion of art thrives in the intangible. Attempts to pin it down to the rigidity of figures and statistics does a disservice to both art and artist.” [That’s me quoting myself from my days in the record business.]
I felt it was time for an attitude shift.
Fortunately, I stumbled upon a better gauge of a writer’s creativity; it’s called “The Author Effect”.
“The Author Effect” Defined (sort of…)
Let’s not fall into a trap and define “The Author Effect” in hard, quantifiable terms. That’s exactly what numbers do.
Make “The Author Effect” personally yours. Rate it against your creative aspirations and generous motivations, then own it.
For myself “The Author Effect” is about feelings and generosity of spirit; both heartening and enriching as seen in these MasterCard “Priceless” commercials, click here and here. [I’m fond of dogs and elephants!]
Okay, it’s ironic using a credit card company, whose stock-in-trade are emotionless numbers, as a cuddly example of the author effect.
But that’s my point…
Look, our stock-in-trade is art.
As authors we wrap our emotions around a blank page and bring it to life in the mind of the reader.
But something’s amiss.
The emotion quotient has been stripped from the success equation.
The result? Our writerly achievements are reduced to a numbers game.
- What’s your sales ranking?
- How many Amazon reviews?
- How may social media followers?
- How many units sold?
Admittedly, it would be nice if we could all achieve these tangible goals.
I hadn’t. So I began to question my validity as an author.
“Is that all there is?” By legendary songstress, Peggy Lee cycled repeatedly in my head.
My confidence was shot to hell despite rave reviews and a social platform teaming with thousands of followers.
Then my experiences as a successful music executive came to mind…
Fact is my record collection is full of superb recordings by artists that never made it. Yet their lack of commercial success didn’t diminish one iota their superior artistry. I realized that factors beyond their control had impacted their sales, but not their art.
Surely then an author’s creative self-worth should be judged by a different metric?
The problem was I had no idea what form that metric should take.
Then opportunity knocked on the door…
An Unexpected Invitation from a Worthy Cause
As writers we provide the story arc that shape the fate of characters in our books; who lives or dies, fails or succeeds.
In the written worlds we create, the power we wield is darn near supreme.
But in our own lives, not so much…
But there’s good news.
We are authors.
And being an author counts for something.
Because as authors we are talented communicators.
Here’s the scoop….
A stranger read my novel, The Zebra Affaire, and concluded that the author (me?!) was “thoughtful, brave, provocative and a social justice warrior.”
The praise was gratifying, but there’s more…
I was invited to an exclusive Los Angeles event to meet Ambassador Deborah Birx, M.D. The doctor heads the United States’ global effort to combat HIV/AIDS.
The event was hosted by the Black AIDS Institute as an initiative to stop the spread of the disease within minority communities in American cities.
HIV/AIDS Screenings are the first line of defense but efforts to get this vital life-saving message to the hardest hit precincts has proved difficult due to ignorance, economics, stigma, and prejudice.
Targeted communication was now key; and in that effort a writer was needed.
No longer was it about me selling books—it was about saving lives!
[Note: I was invited to participate because of thoughtful words I’d written in a book; not because I was famous or topped the NY Times best seller list.]
Your Books are the Path to Creative and Expert Validation
My book had rewarded me in a surprisingly novel way (pun intended).
It had gifted me with an aura of gravitas or what’s known as “authority”.
All the more surprising because my book is a work of historical fiction.
Yet, here I was.
My expert opinion being sought by men and women of substance over matters of life (and dare I say, death).
Better still, I was contributing to an important cause.
No longer was I troubled by book sales and Amazon rankings. All that seemed trivial.
Thanks to “The Author Effect” I finally felt validated as an author.
Tap into your own Author Effect
And you can also experience a similar sense of validation with a shift in perspective. Look beyond those numbers and tap into your own author effect—then develop a plan around it.
With our collective talent can you imagine the intelligent and creative contributions we can make to this troubled world? And in doing so, validate our creative artistry.
Causes needing help are many so look to your own experience, or characters and themes within your stories, for inspiration. Then get involved.
“The Author Effect” should be part of every writer’s promotional platform.
3 Benefits of “The Author Effect” (by the numbers?!)
It’s a rare trifecta seldom attainable in life—the ultimate win-win-win situation.
Because “The Author Effect” satisfies many needs;
- Creative Need—as authors we gain access to a far greater canvas on which to creatively express ourselves,
- Validation Need—as authors we’re emotionally rewarded for our proactive engagement in real world matters of great importance (and in the process bring credibility to the entire Indie Author community).
- Community Need—because of our participation as authors we’re contributed mightily to our communities at large. So enriching.
But wait, here’s a bonus that will help you sell more books!
- Readership Need—supporting every cause is a fully vested community. As authors we need access to readers. These cause-driven communities are packed with readers that are potential audiences for our books.
That’s the elegance of “The Author Effect”—by doing good deeds we’ll reach new readers, and feel validated in the process.
Love to hear from you with examples of “The Author Effect” you’ve experienced. Please share your inspiring stories in the comments below.
Mark Fine is a music executive by profession and author by choice. His novel, The Zebra Affaire, exposes the unkind underbelly of South Africa’s apartheid years (the land of his birth). Fine is an expert in creative collaborations having worked closely with successful recording artists and other authors. For more information and further insights into the creative process please register for free at The Fine Maxim.